Step 1. Visualize the shot.

Visualization puts a positive image in your mind before hitting.  Most all Pro Golfers visualize each shot before  hitting.  Guy Wilson who began coaching Lydia Ko from the first grade (the youngest Number #1 ranked golfer of all time - age 17)  taught Lydia to visualize each shot.  Visualization takes your mind off the mechanics of your swing, and helps you relax. Consider the shot. Decided on whether to draw, fade or straight ball to your target.  Start on the practice tee as well as the chipping green, to visualize each shot before hitting it. View each 20 foot putt or less rolling in. View longer putts stopping close to the hole.

Step 2. Align each shot before you take your stance.

The only place to see where you want the ball to go is to stand behind it. Determine an imaginary line on the ground from your target back to your golf ball. Then pick a spot on the ground (a odd blade of grass or dirt) just about a yard in front of your ball on the your line. Then walk to the side and  take your stance perpendicular to your ball and the spot you chose about a yard in front of your ball. Pause and take a moment to feel comfortable, then look up at your target. It might not look like you’re lined up properly but that’s simply physics since the line looks different from a side view vs. the rear view in back of the ball. Trust your rear view alignment. 

Step 3. Grip. Keep your grip light and be relaxed.


One simple grip test (or reminder before you hit). Take your stance and hold the club up vertically in front of yourself (position 1 above).  If the club slips down, your grip is too light. Hold it just tight enough so it doesn’t slip. Then hold it perpendicular (position 2 above) and you’ve got the right tightness. Generally on a scale of 1 to 10 with 10 being the tightest, your grip should be between a 5 and a 7. See Butch Harmon explain this in the video above.  And, remember to relax. Lee Trevino use to say, “Pressure is playing a $3 Nassau with only a dollar in your pocket.” Heavy competition or trying too hard tenses your muscles.  Try pretending you’re on the practice tee and you just want to make a nice swing. 

Step 4. Stance. Take your stance and make sure you’ve got the right ball position (i.e. Driver off the left heel, Five Iron  from the middle of your stance to your left heel, or over your heart, etc.).

When you first learned to play golf your pro should have shown you the proper stance and taught you the right ball position for each club for a normal shot. It’s generally something you’ve already decided on in Step 1 of the Vagse method when you first visualize the shot. That is, you know the distance, you know which club you’re going to hit, you visualize the shot in your head.  Let your subconscious take over.  

When you set up your stance, you should know when you have the right stance since you’ll feel good about it. If not take a step back and let your thoughts clear. Think of a clear blue sky or a positive thought. Don’t let negative thoughts bother you.  Then resume your alignment and stance again. Focus on the back of the golf ball and make an easy swing as described in final Step 5 of the VAGSE Method. 

Step 5. Swing Easy. Let the Club do the work. 

Most higher handicap golfers logically think the harder they hit the ball the further it will go. But trying to hit too hard tends to create a sway instead of keeping yourself behind the ball. Try not forcing or hitting the shot of your lifetime and focus on effortlessly controlling  your swing and tempo. If you can control your swing to an easy swing with a relaxed tempo you’ll gradually increase your distance – whether you want to or not. Remember to trust your ability as you’ve made similar shots before. 

Final Tip: Before using the VAGSE Method (Visualize – Allign – Grip – Stance – Easy) in a round go to the practice range and hit a bucket using the VAGSE Method. Make sure you hit a bucket before the round – whether you want to or not.  The VAGSE Method will quietly have you lose an average of 5- 7 shots on your present game.

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​​​​Tip: Laughter Helps You Focus On Your Golf Game:

​Years ago, I knew a successful club pro who told me a story about himself specially qualifying for one of the very few spots open at the time for Arnold Palmer’s Bay Hill Classic in Orlando. He was overjoyed and only 19 years old at the time. He began his first round walking confidently to tee his ball up tee with his proud father/coach on his bag and then proceeded to hit his drive out of bounds. A bit shaken but still eager to make a good showing, he teed up another ball and hit that OB as well. I stared at him in silence as he told me the story. Then he whispered, “It got worse from there on out....”  Well, he missed the cut but later went on to a successful golf teaching career. 

Playing bad golf can be stressful, embarrassing and excruciating. If you’re playing bad golf and can’t seem to correct it (which some same is worse than the “Cruel and unusual punishment” banned by the US Constitution) what should you do?

                      “If we couldn't laugh we would all go insane.”

                                                     ― Robert Frost

Laughing is sometimes the last thing you want to do when your play turns bad – your bad feelings during bad play changes your chemical balance, and your mental game deteriorates. You know the situation. Your mindset tells you you’re going to hit the perfect shot then for some unknown reason your ball flies OB? I’ve heard one golfer say he pictures a blue sky with white puffy clouds in his mind before he’s ready to swing, or another golfer says he just keeps a single thought of making a nice swing before a crucial shot. Regardless of the reason(s) for the bad shot, after the unexpected bad shot happens and rage and anguish start to surface, should you try thinking of something funny? 

Sound silly? Not really.  For example, Lydia Ko’s caddy, Jason Hamilton, besides being an excellent caddie, has a wry sense of humor and tells Lydia one of his bad jokes after she makes a bad shot. She says she gets over the bad shot better that way. 

It’s been scientifically proven that laughter causes the body to send more oxygen to the tissues. In fact, if you combine laughter with exercise (wave your arms and smile), more oxygen will flow throughout your body. A research project at the Univ. Of Maryland studied the effect of laughter on blood vessels. One test group was shown a comedy movie while the other test group was shown a drama. The comedy group’s blood vessels were normal yet the drama group’s blood vessels became constricted restricting blood flow causing less oxygen to go throughout your body.  We all remember feeling relieved exiting a cinema after watching a serious drama? 

A 2014 Loma Linda University Study proved that Laughter actually produces brain waves similar to being in a state of meditation.  “It’s as if the brain gets a workout....which allows for the subjective feeling states of being able to think more clearly and have more integrative thoughts,” according to Lee Berk, Dr.PH, MPH, the principal investigator of the Loma Linda study. In other words, a good laugh helps you regroup and think more clearly and focus.  Laughter has also been shown to break a state of negativity and also helpful in treating Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. 

Okay, but how do you start to laugh after an unexpected and traumatic bad golf shot? 

Three Tips on how to laugh (when you don’t even come close to feel like laughing) after a bad golf shot: 

1. Smile. You’ve heard it many times. If you want to be confident, act confidently. Likewise, if you force a smile happy feelings will follow.  Okay, but say that doesn’t work? Try the next tip. 

2. Think of an old joke. Keep the funniest joke you’ve ever heard in the back of your mind. But you may be in such anguish you can’t think of a funny joke, so try writing it down and keeping it in your pocket (you don’t have to pull it out and read it, just reach in your pocket and touch it so it will come to mind.) For example, I went on line and searched for the “Funniest joke ever told” and found this one:  “A woman gets on a bus with a baby. The bus driver says: ‘That’s the ugliest baby that I’ve ever seen.  Ugh!’ The woman goes to the rear of the bus and sits down, fuming. She says to a man next to her: "The driver just insulted me!" The man says: "You go right up there and tell him off – go ahead, I'll hold your monkey for you." 

3. If all else fails, think of something positive!  For example, say to yourself, “My next shot will be excellent.” After the anger starts to subside and you feel yourself starting to relax, think of or look around for something odd or funny (e.g., Bill Murray’s hilarious antics playing the Pebble Beach Pro-Am? Your favourite part of “Caddieshack?”, etc.). Then try thinking of your joke again. Or, if you have to, let the anguish out for a second, but try hard to relax after you do, then force a smile and laugh it off. Your focus should return and your golf play will improve. 

Bonus Tip: For some fun things to do when you’re on the course and you can’t shake the bad golf, check out Golfwell’s Fun Section: 

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Golf Course Wildlife: Snake! Be Ready For The Unexpected!

Are you prepared if you run into an Alligator, a Poisonous Snake, or Poisonous Spider? What about a Heart Attack?

The Port Labelle Inn and Oxbow Golf Course near the Florida Everglades has signs near its many lakes, "Do Not Molest The Alligators". I took my visiting New York City brother there for a round of golf and he noticed the "Do Not Molest..." sign and said,
"What the hell? Do they think I'm going to jump on the back of an alligator and tease him?"
"No, just don't throw anything at them.," I replied.

Another day, I was sitting in a Florida Courtroom listening to lawyers argue over a case where the Plaintiff had been bitten by a rattlesnake looking for his ball in the rough and later filed suit against the golf course for damages. The golf course filed a motion to dismiss the suit. The snake bitten Plaintiff's lawyer argued, "Your honor, they should have at least given a warning to golfers. It would be reasonable and the duty of the Golf Course to at least post a sign, 'Beware of poisonous snakes.' .Both sides argued on and on. Finally, the judge said,
"If I rule the Plaintiff has a right to sue in this case, then that would require every golf course in the State of Florida to post a sign, "Beware of Rattlesnakes." Well, everyone knows there's poisonous snakes in Florida. Do hammer manufacturers have to put a label on hammers - 'If you hit your thumb with this, it will hurt you?' Case dismissed."

We as golfers know there are hidden dangers. I played a very fine golf course near Sydney with three Aussies who were kind enough to let me join their threesome. On one of first few holes, I hit my drive into the right rough which Aussies call "bush" and started to walk into the bush to look for it.
"Hold on, mate," I heard one of them say.
"Oh, I'm just going to take a quick look for my ball," I said. Then I heard a chuckle. "What?" I asked.
"That's a web of a funnel web spider web right next you, mate."
"Are they dangerous?" I asked.
Then I heard another chuckle. "You've got to respect the nature here, mate."

The Funnel Web Spider Video - It all happens too fast!

But what do you do in case of a heart attack? 

A golf bag survival kit? Dangerous animal attacks don't happen often - but heart attacks are more common. No one has room in our bag to carry a defibrillator. Many golf courses have defibrillators but they might be too far away when every second counts. There is something that's not bulky that you can easily have on your bag.

Here's a golf bag tag survival kit under $15 that fits on your bag. It has 

four uses in one as an all inclusive survival kit. It attaches to your golf bag

similar to a bag tag and has an American Heart Association CPR

instruction card.

"Gimme back my F#%&!! golf ball!!"


​​Tip: Storytelling on the Golf Course:

  (Or How To Keep Positive During Slow Golf Play) 

“We are a culture built on Storytelling, it’s essential to the Human Experience.”

We've all been in this line. Let’s say you’re backed up by two foursomes on a par three and looking at a 30 minute wait. You moan and usually one in your group begins cleaning iron grooves, another starts to tell a joke, another digs into the cooler for a beer and the last one’s saying, “Where’s the Marshall?” Complaining aggravates waiting, makes people irritable and spoils everyone’s fun and tends to wreck your golf round. If you’re with a client or people who mean something to you, try breaking out a story. People love stories and you reveal your character and intelligence by telling the right story. If fact, if you’re playing golf with a client, good storytelling may win you more business as well as future invitations to golf.

For example, when I was a young lawyer with a single digit handicap and working hard as a new associate in a large firm, I was finally invited to play golf by my boss and two of his banker friends. The three of them were in their 50’s and I wasn’t sure how my 26 year oldishness would work out. I knew on the golf course I could hold my own, but now I was on display and the bankers as well as my boss were sizing me up, perhaps somewhat thinking back to their more youthful days. I’d just finished birdying a short par 5, and we drove the carts to the next hole a par three. There were two foursomes waiting in front of us to tee off. My boss got out of the golf cart and after surveying the situation, he shrugged and complained of the backup and noticed the pin was tucked in the back on a downward slope. Going over the green made the balls roll down to the hazard. “ The pin shouldn’t be there on a Saturday. There’s too much play on the weekend.”
There was a short silence. I took a chance and began telling them of a recent trip my wife and kids took to Orlando’s Disney World where the waiting time for popular attractions like Space Mountain, were up to an hour in the summer. Waiting in line for Space Mountain, I suggested to my wife and kids playing our usual game, “Whose got a joke?” We each took turns telling jokes as we inched forward. The one rule of our joke game was that if you couldn’t come up with a joke in 10 seconds when it was your turn, you’re out and the winner was the last one standing. I don’t think a human being has ever heard more dumb jokes: “What do you call a bear with no teeth? Ans. A Gummy Bear.” “Descartes walks into a bar and the bartender asks him if he wants a drink? Descartes responds, ‘I think not’ then disappears.” Etc., etc.... Anyway, as we told our “hilarious jokes/ stories or observations” others near us joined in with a few of their own and before we knew it, we’re all laughing and the wait was over as we boarded the indoor rollercoaster.

My boss and the bankers liked my story and started telling me about memorable times when their children were small. Wonderful and funny memories began to spill out of them. The next thing we knew we were teeing off with everyone in a good mood. My boss could have called the Marshall to try and speed up play but we enjoyed the storytelling more. Sometimes there's no way to speed up play...."Say have you ever played Beachview GC on Sanibel? Let me tell you...". Source: Golfwell Have you ever struggled with small talk? Try storytelling. People are instinctively drawn to hearing a story. Studies have shown that some of the benefits of storytelling are: 1. It helps people understand you better. You show your values (such as family and a positive attitude) and you gain respect with a good story. 2. It makes your listeners remember things in their own lives. They get eager to share their own similar story. 3. When you share a happy story (or even a sad one) it connects you for the future.   


​Okay, but how do you tell a good story? How do you impress people with a simple story? Well, there’s a well known book and it’s not expensive called, “Practical Storytelling: How To Use Stories To Build Strong Business and Personal Relationships,” by Dominic Valari. This book shows you it isn’t hard to think up and tell a good simple story which will impress people and make them remember you. Alfredo Castro wrote on Storytelling in Business: “Stories create a communication bridge to connect the left and right sides of the brain, by touching the rational elements of our customers (and team members) as well as their emotional aims and objectives. Storytelling in the corporate environment is generally used in marketing and product development. This technique can be used in other areas to improve results. One of the best places to use storytelling is sales management. One of most powerful ways to engage a sales team and the customers is to use storytelling.... Storytelling is something well recognized by professionals from a variety of disciplines such as historians, literary critics, filmmakers, cognitive psychologists, lawyers, neurologists, physicians, economists, and, yes, professional storytellers. As F. Scott Fitzgerald said: “Draw your chair up to edge of the precipice, and I’ll tell you a story.” In his well known book, “A Whole New Mind,” Daniel Pink points out that it’s fairly simple to tell a good story. The elements are:  A clear beginning and end  Clear message  It’s authentic  It’s relevant. It's engaging (often with drama or tension) So, the next time you run into an unexpected wait, tell a good story and see what happens. Be prepared for others to join in and have a great time doing it. 

See our story telling contestGolfwell's Story Contest