In this exclusive Ultimate Golf Advantage interview, UGA’s Alex Davidson answers questions submitted by UGA readers and comments on Walker’s win this week at the 2014 AT&T Pebble Beach National Pro-Am.
On his most embarrassing moment on the links:
I’m not going to pretend I haven’t made a fool of myself on more than a few occasions on the course – I often share these incidents with the UGA tribe. Bad days on the links are all part of the game and it’s important not to let these moments define your entire experience (no-one likes golfing with a hot-head after all!)
But there was one memorable occasion early on in my golfing “career” in which I faced off with a greenside bunker… and lost. But, not in the way you might expect.
See, after a 3-putt gone awry, I headed over to the bunker to play my ball out. I could almost feel the grinning of my playing partners as I was assessing the lie from the backside lip of the bunker, which was pretty deep. I got distracted making a smart a** remark to my buddy and clearly wasn’t watching my step. So, my most embarrassing (and sadly memorable) moment came when my legs went from under me as I slipped and landed in the bunker square on my rear end in the sand, much to the roars of my golfing partners. I’ll just count my blessings this happened before the smartphone was invented to capture it all!
On the pressure Walker faced at the 2014 AT&T Pebble Beach National Pro-Am:
I’ve received a lot of emails about Walker’s shocking win at Pebble Beach. Given that he’d already won 2 tournaments in the short few months since the season began, there was a huge amount of pressure on Walker. If he could win this, he would join the ranks of Woods, Duval and Mickelson in winning 3 out his eight starts in the season (did anyone else notice the commentators’ “Tiger Woods” namedropping every 5-minutes?)
He looked close to cinching the victory for a while, but he faced two tough 3-putts after a bad chip on the 12th. Walker admits that he hates three-putting (pro golfers – they’re just like us!) and his shaky short game almost lost him the tournament, but he was able to overcome his anxiety and take the lead, finishing 11-under 277, just one shot ahead of Dustin Johnson, bagging a cool $1.188 million in the process. I thought that was amazing.
What this really goes to show is that we all have weak areas on the course, but with the right attitude it is entirely possible to overcome these and come out on top. Instead of fighting our weaknesses, we should acknowledge them, take a step back and maintain our “big picture” perspective.
Walker proved to be a great example of resilience under pressure this weekend.
On what amateur golfers can learn from Walker’s surprise win:
It’s easy for amateur golfers to feel intimidated by these pros who seem to maintain their composure under such intense pressure, but there’s really only one difference between the best-of-the-best and all-the-rest…
It all comes down to a winning mindset (you know I’m a firm believer in practicing the mental side of the game as well as the technical side!)
Let me put it this way – Walker may have scored a victory at Pebble Beach this weekend, but even he confesses to hate the technical side of three-putting. The thing is, Walker accepts that the game has highs and lows and just goes out there to play. It’s this kind of approach to the game that allowed him to play through the tough putts and come out on top – he doesn’t let his weaknesses get too much inside his head.
That’s a good lesson for all of us to remember, amateurs and pros alike.
On tips for golfers getting back on the links this spring:
As much as any avid golfer will happily battle the elements on the course, for many of us there comes a point in winter where the clubs go into hibernation for a well-earned break. Springtime brings many emotions for golfers getting back on the green (cue waves of youthful excitement!) and if it’s been a few months since you played and you’re feeling a bit rusty or tense – you’re not alone.
It makes sense to start at the beginning and build back into the swing of things. So here are my three top tips for setting yourself up for better drives this spring season:
1) Position your head 6-inches behind the ball and keep it there. It’s a simple thing to remember, but you’ll find it much easier to bring your right shoulder below your left on the downswing.
2) Nerves will affect your backswing, usually making it too rushed. So, take your time. When I haven’t played in a while, I remind myself to turn my lead shoulder behind the ball on the backswing – it’s not rocket science, but it slows the motion down.
3) Loosen your grip on the club. When you’re stepping back onto the links for the first time in a while, it’s understandable to be a bit tense. But, instead of taking it out on your club with a chokehold, take a moment to loosen up your fingers before you swing.
About Alex Davidson:
The team at Ultimate Golf Advantage is committed to helping passionate golfers around the world who are serious about improving their game.
Alex can be contacted directly at firstname.lastname@example.org