2009-11-18 A lot of you seem interested in hearing more about my time in college and in particular about the golf coach I had there. I'm gonna try my best to tell some stories and give a hint of how our golf was over there at Oklahoma State University (OSU).
Team's schedule on a normal day:
6.30-7.30: Workout (4 times a week plus individually on weekends)
8.30-12.00: School classes
13.30-18.30: Golf practice
Our Coach's schedule:
6.00-7.30: Workout (7 days a week)
13.00-until last player leaves practice: Golf coaching
As you can see, we all worked pretty hard. But, I think our coach worked harder than us players.
The first year was very tough. Everything was new and I felt a little out of place. We were 10 players on the team but only 5 play each tournament so the competition was very good. I struggled with an injury during the first semester (fall) but got to play in the spring but didn't manage many top results. My game got better each year and I improved in the rankings and also improved my poition within the team.
Our coach's main goal was to win NCAA (National Collegiate Athlete's Association) titles, but he also wanted to prepare us for professional golf. He was the most competetive person I've ever met and I don't think I'll ever meet anyone more competetive either. He has been very successful over his 30 years of coaching at OSU. To sum up what he believed in:
1. Never have any excuses, nobody cares about hearing them anyway.
2. Always tell your score and nothing else, nobody cares how you did it.
3. Always perform to your full potential, if you don't you choose not to do it.
4. You should be able to shoot low in any kind of weather.
5. Never give up.
To make us learn these things, he trained us hard all day, every day.
We usually had 4 rounds of team qualification before each tournament to decide which 5 players get to play. If the weather was too good at a qualifying day, he usually changed it to a day when the weather was supposed to be bad. He loved it when it rained really hard and the win was strong. He thought golf was to easy when it was calm and sunny.
Our college course (karstencreek.com) was a brutal test of golf. I remember after playing my first qualifying round we all gathered in a ring and coach pointed his finger to each player asking for the scores. 71, 75, 69, and so on. Then to me, 80. He looked at me and just sighed. He then glanced away onto the next player. I felt very low and I understood where I have gotten. I had to get better. I did get better but I recorded many more rounds in the 80's during my 4 years of qualifying.
If anybody would add one single word after telling his score when coach asked him, he was given a lesson by coach saying that "nobody cares how you played. Just tell your score and nothing more". If you kept making excuses or saying you finished well after a bad start you were given a punishment workout which was not pleasant. We all learned very quickly.
Coach thought you should perform to your maximum potential in every area of life. The three main areas for us players during our college years were in most important order (to coach), school, golf and then workout. I peferred playing golf over studying though and got benched during a great stretch of tournaments including Hawaii, Puerto Rico and Las Vegas because he thought I could have done better in school the previous semester. The same for golf. He tought a player underperforming chooses to underperform. Most teachers and coaches will tell a player who just had a bad round to forget it and wish him/her better luck next time. Not our coach.
If he saw someone slacking during a workout, he gave him a lesson to always try your hardest or go to another college where they allow slacking off. He was very direct. You always knew what was going on, which I thought was great.
One thing that he did sticks out the most when I think back to college. He had just heard of a game called "worse ball" (you play 2 shots and pick the worst one) and described it to us before we all were going out to play a casual round. We thought it sounded like a game that would improve our golf so we were up for it. Then he added, we play this game and it counts as a double qualifying round. So now, we were going to play worse ball at one of the world's most difficult golf courses during a qualifying round which counts as two rounds. Now he got our harts pumping. Coach didn't think much of a friendly round of golf. He wanted to make us feel the nerves shaking to prepare us for the worst. We sucked at worse ball in the beginning, recording scores in the 80' and 90's but we got it down to mid 70's by the the time we left.
Coach did so many things to make us feel the pressure both from ourselves and from all the others who wanted us to perform well. If he thought a player on the team looked nervous, he made him feel even more nervous. Coach described himself as being our conciousness and expressing our doubts and nervousness clearly so if we could overcome and disregard his voice, we could overcome our own voice. As another example, I usually scored really bad at the tough 17th hole at Karsten Creek. I rarely made par and double-bogeys were common for me there. He knew I hated the whole and that it made me nervous playing it, so he always told me and everybody else how I never play good there. He used to tell about my latest triple-bogey there over lunch and so on. Then, at the NCAA final tournament at just Karsten Creek in 2003 I made a triple-bogey on the 17th. Do you think I got to hear the end of that? It still echoes in my head. Maybe I didn't overcome either his exaggurated words or my inner voice this time but I did on a lot fo other occasions.
I remember one time when I performed better than coach thought I would. One time we got to choose our own date when we wanted to play a qualifying round at Stillwater Country Club. The only rules were that we had to play with at least one more teammate and you had to announce that you were playing the round as a qualifying round at the first tee box. The first day we went up there to play, my friend Dayton announced his roundas a qualifying round but for some reason I didn't so I just played it as a casual round. I shot 63 (-8) that day. "Too bad you didn't announce it on the first tee that you were playing it as a qualifying round. Now you will not even sniff that when you do announce it", said coach when he heard about my round. The next time I went upp there to play I felt ready and announced it and boom, I sho t a 61 (-10)! It was the sweatest thing seeing coach's face when he found out.
The more I play this game and the older I get, the more thankful I am for all the lessons he gave us. I couldn't have read these things in a book. No way!
Time to hit the swiss ball:)
See you later!
2009-11-17 They are really taking care of us this week here in Dubai. Got a room at Atlantis Hotel which is an unreal place with loads of fun stuff to do. A waterpark and an aquarium with 85.000 fish including a whaleshark. Crazy.
The lobby with some kind of art in the middle...
Beachparty with great food. Feels awesome to just dive into straight after working out.
Atlantis Hotel in the background.
Edfors and Cissan relaxing:)
Time to sleep...get back with more stories about my college coach tomorrow. I read that some of you want to hear more. I got loads of fun stories about him. He is not longer the golf coach at Oklahoma State University, he took over the whole atheltic side and is now the Athletic Director. He is doing a great job. Check it out at okstate.com
Bye for now...
2009-11-16 Golf is all about scoring. Lately I've scored better than my game has felt. It takes a lot of energy to battle your way around a golf course but it feels sweet to shoot a good round after not hitting many good shots. I know it's all relative. My bad shots are good shots for someone else. One's perception of a good shot is measured by the amount of practice and experience I think.
The last month or so I've worked a lot harder on my swing technique than earlier in the year. I am just tired of not hitting it the way I want to so I've spent a lot of time on the range. But, with golf, nothing comes quickly, does it? For a golfer to say, "I have it" is one of the deadliest sins there is for us. So, I've tried to not say that after training sessions when it has started to feel a lot better. Although, it's still frustrating watching videos of my swing where I can see the exact same swing faults as I had when I was 17. You would think 10 years of training almost every day would solve these faults, but it takes a very long time. Maybe it will never go away but it will improve and in the end it might not have an effect at all. But, as Peter Hedblom's dad, Olle Hedblom told me today on the range after hearing me complain over my same old swing faults: "Just think of where you were 2 years ago, improving in golf takes time". That made my day! He has seen most of the best players and has helped his son Peter throughout his career so he knows what he is talking about. I just have to keep working and be patient. I'm so happy with my results and couldn't have dreamt of improving as much as I have these past years so I should be happy. I just love playing good golf so when I struggle on the course it's not as much fun to play. As my college coach said, "Golf is only fun when you play good. Whoever not agreeing with that either lies or doesn't care about his game".
Speaking of my college coach, there are some things he said and did that I will never forget. For example he said:
1. "Life is not fair so I will teach you to overcome everything unfair that is put in your face". In qualifying for a tournament amongst the teammates, sometimes we played from different tee boxes to make it unfair.
2. "Don't ever have any excuses". If we ever used any excuses we got a punishment workout on the stairmaster. Since then, I rarely use any excuses and I'm very happy he tought me that.
There are so many more things but can't bore you with them all but just wanted to tell you those things since I think they are important things.
Some pics from the course today. Felt nice to have Colin back on the bag and with the camera. Kasper Hedblom was good yesterday but he was more interested in hitting spinners from the fringe than giving me distances which I easily understand.
Feels so weird to be the first player to hit off the tee. Sweet though:)
Where do you hit it here? I think it's either 5 iron-6 iron or a driver-wedge. Hmm...
Approach to 18th green.
Guess what hole this is:)
2009-11-15 Just came to think about this. We need a new competition for you guys!? I think the trick shot competition went really well and you guys showed a lot of skills! What should we do this time? What prizes? Maybe a workout competition? Maybe the one who comes up with the most fun putting competition or something like that!?
Just got a question about my coming website. I'll finish it over the winter break. I just want to make it fun for you guys so it's worth visiting often.
Feeling good now after a hard workout. It feels like it was a good choice to take the week off from tournament golf so I could do the necessary practice to give myself a good chance this week. I have also gone a lot harder than usual in the gym 6 out of the last 7 days, so now I will go a little lighter to tune in my body for this week's golf. I have felt really tired the last couple of days while working out this hard, but from now on I hope I will feel really energized and strong. We'll see if that will be true but at least I've had a plan and stuck to it. That was a first.
Time for sleep!
2009-11-15 I'd love to try this one out. I have a dream to go in one of those two seated F1 cars with an F1 driver...would be the best thing ever!
Hedblom and I are on the way to the Jumeirah Golf Estates golf course but it was seriously hard to find it since it just opened and there are no real roads into it.
Everything is under construction in Dubai but after seeing this huge sign, we knew we must be close.
This is the entry road to the golf course:)
Kind of looks like Augusta's Magnolia lane doesn't it? Or not...
One of the biggest ranges I've ever seen. Feels really cool when you get a sign with your name on:)
Some drills on the range. Just trying to understand how to get to this position. Worked for an hour with my coach Pete Cowen and it felt a lot better after that. I have been scoring good but it hasn't felt very good so we need to do some work over the next few days to get it going this tournament. I feel excited though! Last tournament of the year, the grande final! After this I have around five weeks off to do a lot of swing training to get the swing in better shape for next year.
Great extension through the ball by Mr. Hedblom.
Junior Hedblom was my caddie today since Colin was coming in little later...
Nobody has played this course before us...in great shape.
The coolest courtesy cars of the year! Awesome!
See you guys later!