First Tee Jitters

First Tee Jitters

In a resent poll taken on our Instagram account we learned that over 80 percent of you suffer from first tee jitters.  It is totally understandable for sure!  I have found that the best way to overcome this is to plan!  Create a mentally stable pre-shot routine where you change the way you think.  First tee jitters come from over valuing the outcome.  If you play attention to your pre-shot routine and not outcomes.  Concentrate on doing the some things before you hit the ball.  Try it!  Please leave your comments below!

Mike Fay

Mike Fay

PGA Director of Instruction

With over 30 years of teaching experience, it's easy to see why Mike has become a leader in the world of golf instruction. Everything from cutting edge social networking techniques to having his own podcast, Mike has helped to change the face of teaching golf.  He currently is the Director of Instruction at Walnut Creek Country Club in South Lyon, Michigan.

Email:  [email protected]

Golf Match Play-Think A Different Way

Golf Match Play-Think A Different Way


Playing match play golf has been around for centuries.  With a handicap system to equal the field, just about anyone can beat anyone on any given day. That’s what makes it so much fun to play.  All inclusive.

I have had a formative career playing match play events.  I have won some and lost some heart breakers.  As I look back on it honestly I have learned more about myself and game than any other format of tournament play.  So I wanted to share some of what I have learned with you today.

I guess you could call them rules, mistakes, or things that have worked for me. So lets begin!

Doomed Before You Start

In the days leading into a big match can set a tone for your match without you even knowing it.  Perhaps you know this player ahead of time or maybe you don’t. Regardless of that everyone around you will have expectations about the outcome of your match. Only you have control over you. Don’t let the distractions bother you.

While we are here let’s add a few more things that can cause you to be doomed to the start. Things like lack of sleep, improper nutriution, and lack of preparation time all can have you doomed before the start.

What Happens During The Match

Being reactive instead of proactive will ruin your chances to win matches. A big rule that I stand by is that no matter who you are playing against, play the course and play that course to the best of your ability. If you try to keep up with the 350 yard bombing opponent, most likely you will be hurting only yourself by slashing balls deep into the forest. Be proactive by knowing your own game limitations and maximizing them.

Always go into matches with a “let them beat you” mentality. Dare them right? If they do beat you and produce great golf, hats off to them! Your opponent’s play throughout the day had nothing to do with yours. You just didn’t play well enough to win. and…..that’s ok. We often learn more by losing than by winning. Losing does inspire greatness!

Never get too far ahead of yourself. Each hole is it’s own entity. It doesn’t matter what has happened before in the match, and….guess what? It doesn’t matter what will happen after either. Be concerned with what you are doing on each shot on each hole. Many a player has had a thought they had it in the bag coming down the stretch and found victory fall through their fingers. Which brings me to my final point.

Never underestimate your opponent. Your opponent is here for one reason and one reason only….to beat you. You can’t go through a match hoping that your opponent makes mistakes. It’s draining on you and you aren’t paying attention to what you need to do to play your best and win the match. Be encouraging to your opponents, show respect for the good shots they hit, you will be a better player for doing these things. The world’s best player can be beaten in match play, we have see it done before. Play YOUR game and not to theirs.


Mike Fay

Mike Fay

PGA Director of Instruction

With over 30 years of teaching experience, it's easy to see why Mike has become a leader in the world of golf instruction. Everything from cutting edge social networking techniques to having his own podcast, Mike has helped to change the face of teaching golf.  He currently is the Director of Instruction at Walnut Creek Country Club in South Lyon, Michigan.

Email:  [email protected]

The Big Miss Review

Perspective can be a funny thing.

Many times we as fans believe those in the media spotlight fit a specific mold. This can be movie stars, politicians, and athletes.  It’s not until we get insight into their “world” when we are able to take a step back and assess who that person really is.  In certain instances, we are not privy to the daily lives of famous people.  We are at the mercy of what is placed on YouTube or what a photographer may catch at a fleeting moment in time.  This is how are perceptions are formed.

Our perception is our reality.  What we hear or see is what we believe. We do not live in sound bites but many who are famous do. When those who are close to famous people for an extended period of time, give us insight into what that person is like, we are able to reassess our perception.

Enter –  Hank Haney.  Recently, I had the opportunity to read, The Big Miss.  If you are not familiar (What rock have you been living under?) Hank Haney was Tiger Woods’ coach for six years.  During those six years, Hank describes his relationship with Tiger Woods in the book both on and off the course.

The book reinforced and shattered some of my perceptions of Tiger Woods.

Reinforced: The Big Miss reinforced the perception that Tiger Wood is a relentless worker. Hard work pays off.  It certainly has paid off for Tiger throughout the years.  His numbers in both major and non-major tournament wins is a testament to that.  Hank’s insight into Tiger’s practice regiment and tireless preparation gives the reader a glimpse into what can happen when talent and work ethic are meshed together.

Shattered: The Big Miss shattered some previous perceptions of Tiger. Hank referenced many times throughout the book that Tiger was (and still is) a driven individual.  Hank, when coaching Tiger, made the comment that it was like he (Tiger) was the boss and the student all at the same time.  As a former coach, we all believe our athletes can succeed with proper guidance and instruction.  Most athletes are open to that instruction because we as coaches have either demonstrated success with others or have done it ourselves.  In my opinion, after reading the book, this part of the relationship between Tiger and Hank when practicing or interacting was a difficult one to manage as a coach.   One could imagine attempting to correct Tiger or ask him to try something new may be a slippery slope in that it’s not like Tiger doesn’t know what he is doing.   Habits and routines of elite athletes are hard if not impossible to break.  Hank points out in The Big Miss that Tiger’s previous coach, Butch Harmon, worked on aspects of Tiger’s swing that were in difference to Hank’s philosophy.  This is most certainly true for most coaches.  Everyone is different. Attempting to break some habits that Hank believed Tiger could benefit from was a struggle.  Tiger’s tenacity, although a good trait to have, was a difficult barrier to overcome when hank wanted to try something new.  An athlete tends to believe his coach more when suggestions work and the athlete sees success.  Tiger experienced success with Butch.  Again, up to this point in Tiger’s career it’s not as if he had not won anything.  He most certainly had.  But, remember, Tiger asked Hank to coach him – not the other way around.

Reinforced:  Greatness requires greatness.  To quote Hank, “I’m going to give Tiger as much as I’ve got for as long as I can.  And somehow I already know he’s going to be the last touring pro I teach.”  Going into this with Tiger, it’s apparent that Hank understands the time commitment  effort and toll this coaching job will require.  It can be said that Hank Haney is one of the greatest coaches the PGA has seen.  Greatness requires greatness.  But, what else was there to improve on?  Greatness can be measured by the willingness to sacrifice in order to achieve what others are not willing.  Tiger and Hank were willing to push each other when needed.  The Big Miss addresses this in great detail.  The insights learned from practice session successes and tribulations gives the reader insight into what it takes to be great – and the talent that goes with it.

Shattered:  My previous perceptions of Hank Haney prior to reading the book.  It is easy to take a shot at somebody when they are down.  In fact, it seems most people take this opportunity to makes themselves feel better about themselves.  This is what I was expecting when I picked up the book.  I was fully expecting Hank to give the readers the dirt on Tiger.  As it turns out, it could not be further from the truth. Hank is nothing but complimentary to Tiger in all aspects of his life – this includes both golf and Tiger’s personal life.  Hank credits Tiger.  Hank is humble and confident in what his influence was on Tiger. Hank is humble yet confident when reading the book.  The journey of this tremendous opportunity for Hank was written in a manner that highlighted the positive aspects of Tiger and his relationship.  Subsequently, Hank’s knowledge of the swing clearly translated to Tiger’s success after trust was built.  A common comment on social media (Twitter) from fans to Hank is that they have an even greater appreciation of Tiger and what he was able to  accomplish.  This is not to say in The Big Miss that Hank “sugar coats” situations or events that occurred in their six years working together.  Hank is honest and to the point.  In doing that, you, as the reader get a real appreciation of their relationship (Coach/Athlete).  Many take the easy way out.  The easy way out for Hank would have been to bad mouth Tiger and his exploits on the range, course or in his personal life.  Hank refrained from this and it comes out in his appreciation for Tiger. After I read the book, I have a greater appreciation for Hank and Tiger as it relates to their coach-athlete relationship and accomplishments – together.

In short, The Big Miss is an easy read and any golf fan will not be able to put it down once they start.  Hank Haney goes into various memories of Tiger and him in detail which gives the reader insight into what it takes to be great.  In the end, the reader comes away with an appreciation for the greatness of both Hank Haney and Tiger Woods.  Pick up the book.  You will not be disappointed.

Scott Kapla,  Mike Fay Golf Staff Writer
To “follow” Scott on Twitter click here
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Photo Credits:


What makes the tour pro’s great?



I’m sure if you tried to answer and someone was nearby to actually hear you, you’d answer with a list of attributes. The one attribute that I am interested in is preparedness.

How to do you prepare to golf? We can break that down even further. How do you mentally prepare to golf? How do you physically prepare to golf? Don’t answer.

Physical Preparedness

I am a fan of the Golf Channel as probably most of you are that read this. They have a show called, On the Range. The show is basically a color commentary of teachers in the studio watching on a large screen how tour pro’s practice prior to the start of a tournament.

I find myself saying-I do that. I do that too. Wait, what was that? I am going to try that.. I think when we physically prepare for a round we emulate what we see or how we were taught.

If we have time…

Many of us are working stiffs. We try to fit golf in around things in our life whether it be work or family. That means that most of the time we hustle to the course. Change our shoes in the parking lot. Pay. Meet our foursome on the first tee. Take a couple of practice swings with a couple of irons to loosen up. Tee it up and off we go. Is it any coincidence that our back nine scores are usually better than our front nine? (A personal side note: my brother is the only human being that can step out of his car and stripe it down the fairway. A solid 260. It kills me everytime I see it.)

Let’s look at the other side of this. What if you did have time to prepare? What would you do? Why? Many of us on the range start with a wedge and work our way to the driver. Then we head to the practice green (which is probably where we should start and stay-but that”s just me) But, why? Has it been successful for you? As I write this, I am reminded of Tom Watson. He starts with a long iron. He’s pretty good from what I heard.

The bottom line is that what separates us from tour pro’s is obviously talent but time-on-task and preparedness are close behind. We don’t have the talent. We don’t have the time.

We don’t have to make a living at it either.

Mental Preparedness

The mental and the physical go hand-in-hand in any sport. With golf, though, it seems to be magnified. When you approach the first tee before you even hit a ball whether you’ve warmed up or not, what are you thinking about? Are your thoughts positive or negative?
Has your inner voice said the following:
● Just get it in the fairway
● Don’t go left
● Don’t go right
● Don’t shank it
● Man, there are a lot people watching me right now
● 240 to carry the water

I would classify these thought as primarily negative in that they are telling your mind what not to do which in turn your body does (I know it’s weird but many sports psychologists say this).

I think whether you have time to physically warm up or not, your mental approach can have a tremendous effect on your game. Instead of the above negative thoughts, maybe you should try repeating certain swing keys (that what I do). I also heard that some tour pro’s sing to themselves to develop a rhythm. Try it but, please, don’t tell me what you are singing.

Either way, the best way to mentally prepare for a round before you even strike the ball is to keep thoughts simple, focused and positive. Stay in the moment. Don’t let yourself slip and say the following:

If I can just get off to a good start, I will probably have a chance to break (insert your number here).

Each shot counts whether it is on the range or on the first tee. I think that’s the way tour pro’s think. Each time they swing the club and strike a ball, it has a purpose.

What is your purpose when you mentally or physically prepare for a round?

Keep it simple, in the present and positive.

Scott Kapla
Mike Fay Golf Staff Writer

To “follow” Scott on Twitter click here

To follow Scott”s Blog Ed Tech Minute click here

The Long And Short Of It

Let me take you back to the The (British) Open.  Adam Scott, until the last three holes, was in complete command. Ernie Els was steady and sank a birdie putt on the 18th.  No big deal.  But, Scott did not drive the ball in the fairway on the 18th and subsequently made bogey.  His last three holes were a nightmare.  This gave Ernie Els The Open title.  What do they both have in common?  Long(er) putters.

If you recall, I wrote about Ernie’s putting troubles in a previous post.  You can read it here.  If you watched The Open and any other golf tournament prior to or since then, you will notice the overwhelming use of the long putter.  The long putter, although quite controversial, has given life to players who otherwise may have needed life support on the greens.  Ernie may be one of those players.

What makes the long putter so controversial?   Anchoring.  Many commentators and PGA professionals believe that anchoring the putter to your body may be considered cheating.  For example, I follow Hank Haney on Twitter.  He posted the following as a reply to a question about the long putter:


It is quite conclusive what Hank Haney thinks of the long putter but is it cheating?  Is anchoring the putter to your body a way to take out the nerves? Has anyone looked at putting stats?  Back to that in a minute.

Haney has also stated on Twitter that he believes long putters will be allowed in the future but without anchoring.  Picture a golfer holding the putter just below his chin or just in front of his stomach and making a stroke from there. How will this be monitored?  It will be up to the USGA and the R&A.

The long putter has undoubtedly rescued some fledgling careers on the greens.  Or so it may seem.  Take my example from above.  Adam Scott uses a long putter.  To the naked eye, his putting statshave improved (you would think) but he is currently ranked 169th in total putts and 156th in total birdies.  Let’s look a little closer at Scott’s stats:

Putts 5-10 ft:  51% (158th)

Putts 10-15: 36% (14th)

Putts 15-20: 14% (150th)

Putts 20-25: 12% (73rd)

Putts > 25: 11% (1st)

 What do you see in these stats?  I certainly see inconsistency. I’m not sure that banning or altering the rules for the long putter is necessary.  I realize this is only one player but I’m sure that many other players mirror Scott’s stats in that there are strengths and weaknesses when comparing distance to percentage made.

The USGA and R&A will, I’m sure, do their due diligence when coming up with a ruling.  Technology has always been a point of contention with golf.  I’m just not sure banning or modifying the use of the long putter is necessary.

That’s the long and short of it.

One last thing.  I do know one rule that should be modified.  .  He will tell you.

Scott Kapla, Mike Fay Golf Staff Writer

To “follow” Scott on Twitter click here

To follow Scott”s Blog Ed Tech Minute click here

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