It was great to get the chance to recently interview Billy Foster for my Brain Booster podcast. He really is the best of the best in terms of caddying. When you speak to him you can clearly see why he has been at the very top of the game for over 30 years.
We discussed just how much the game has changed out on tour from the days when he carried the bag of one of the all-time greats, Seve Ballesteros.
In particular, he talked about how much of the art of the game has been lost with modern equipment and how it would, in his opinion, be great for players of all levels to get out onto the course with just a few clubs and ‘create’ golf shots.
I couldn’t agree more.
We often fall into the trap of looking for the perfect swing when what we need to develop is the ability to hit shots. At the end of the round the scorecard doesn’t ask you how many swings you made, it asks you how many shots you took.
Play around and create golf shots on the course.
Find out what happens when you put the ball back or forward in your stance, learn how to bend the ball to the left, bend it to the right.
Stop trying to be so perfect and see the course itself as a place to learn and develop your game. Yes, of course there is a place for range work, but now as we are into the season it is about playing the game.
If you get the chance have a listen to the podcast on iTunes you will be fascinated by his insights.
It is sad to hear also about how Ballesteros’ game went away from him as he fell into the trap of taking on board too much information from too many coaches. I myself have seen this so often in an age when we are literally drowning in information. Find a coach you trust and stick with him or her for the long haul.
The best alliance you can ever form for your game is with a good pro who understands your swing but, perhaps more importantly, your personality.
I have said it so many times but I do feel it is worth repeating: to get the best out of yourself is not about finding ‘the’ way to play but uncovering your way to play as a unique individual.
As Billy says in the podcast, when Seve got too far away from his own game and his own way of doing things he got lost and his game never recovered.
A good caddie is literally worth their weight in gold at the highest level as they make decision-making so much easier due to quality information.
A round of golf is so much like life itself in that it is a series of decisions about what to do. There is absolutely no chance that you will always make the right decision out on the course for each and every shot, but what you do need to do is be committed to those decisions and a good caddie helps with that.
Commitment will make a big difference to your game.
You may not be in a position to have a top-class caddie but you can still follow the principles. Gather good information then make a decision based on your game that day.
So many times club golfers go for shots that even Seve himself would have probably baulked at. To lower your handicap this year perhaps the most important statistic is to hit more greens.
Averaging one more green per round will reduce your handicap by a stroke over the long haul. So often we miss greens because we are hypnotised by the flag. It draws our attention and we shoot at it only to put ourselves in trouble.
Play around with the idea that – depending on your handicap – most of your approach shots should be aimed at the centre of the green.
You will be surprised how many more greens you will hit with this strategy and I guarantee if you did have a good caddie on your bag this would be the direction he would send you in.
It is amazing how many more greens you will hit if you aim at the centre of the green and just swing freely. You then have so much more margin for error both from front to back and side to side.
Commit to this and you will notice a big difference in your scoring.