As I write this I am busy preparing for what will be an extremely busy six-week period. I start in Melbourne where I have two events, the Victorian Open and Victorian PGA Championship. Over the past few years I have played well in the Open, finishing 6th in 2014 and having won the Victorian PGA Championship in 2006, I always look forward to heading south. From Victoria I head up to beautiful Toowoomba for the Coca Cola QLD PGA Championship at City Golf Club. It’s a great little track. Tight, but always in perfect condition.
On Monday following the QLD PGA Championship I head to the US for the World Golf Championship event, The Cadillac Championship which is played at the “Blue Monster” course, Doral. Obviously this is going to be a highlight of my career but I’m going there with the mindset of not just enjoying the event and experience, but finishing as high up the leaderboard as I can. It’s obviously a massive jump in events, from a $120,000 tournament to a $9.5 million US dollar event but in the end, it’s still golf.
I then fly out on the Sunday night straight after the final round of the Cadillac Championship to get back for the New Zealand Open, played at Milbrook Resort and the Hills Golf Club in Queenstown. Queenstown is such a beautiful place and I have played well there in the past, finishing 4th in 2008. I just hope that it’s not blowing 60km per hour when we fly in like last year! I land on Wednesday afternoon before the Thursday start so I’m hoping I can recover from the long-haul from the US to feel ok for the first round.
So what have I been doing to prepare for all this golf?
I thought I would share with you a day’s practice for me.
My day starts around 5.45am, as I like to be out at the course by 6:30am. I find you get much more done early in the morning and really get a jump on the day. I spend two hours down at Southport Golf Club’s short game area where I pitch, chip and work on my bunker shots.
Now, this time is not spent just working on my technique. As I have been working on some small technical changes, around half of this time is technical work and the other half is working on trust and commitment. You can have the best technique in the world but if you don’t trust it, it won’t work. That’s fairly obvious if you are watching Tiger Woods’ game at the moment. His ability hasn’t changed but his trust, I believe, certainly has.
After 8:30am I head up to the putting green, where I spend around 1.5 hours. My practice starts off with 100 putts under a string line from between 4 to 15 feet. This normally takes about an hour and then I throw balls around from 4 to 40 feet and just putt, trusting what I have just practiced.
At about 10:30am I head down to the locker room where I find a nice piece of carpet and lay down for 15 minutes to work on my mental game. I picture great shots I have hit and also do some NLP (Neuro-linguistic Programming) on myself. I do this so when I play under pressure, I can draw back on the great shots I’ve hit when I have had to do so. Out of the full day that I practice, these 15 minutes may be the most important. So why only do 15 minutes? To properly work on your mental game, you must be mentally and emotionally fully involved which is really difficult to do for long periods of time. I then stretch and warm up just as I would for a competition round.
I head to the practice fairway around at 11:15am and hit balls until 12:30pm when I go and have some lunch. By this time I am feeling a little tired. Not from the physical side of training but from trying to have 100 percent focus when I’m practicing… not just hitting balls for the sake of it.
Around 1:15pm I head back to the putting green for another hour where I mix technique with trust. To finish off my practice I will go out and play a few holes, general arriving home around 4:30pm. The last part of my day is in the gym. I only spend around 30 minutes at the gym but during this time there’s no talking and relaxing. It’s a full-on 30 minutes, so by the time I arrive home at 5:30pm, I’m spent!
I generally do this five-and-a-half days a week. Sometimes I have to force myself to have a day off because you don’t want to go away to events feeling tired. It’s one of the hardest things to determine in our job. Do you train really hard and risk being tired… or train just a little and stay fresh? I think the answer is different for everyone but I believe nothing beats hard work.
So heading to my run of events I am feeling great and believe that there are some good finishes coming my way. I know I have done the hard work now let’s see if it pays off.