Jake Thurm – The Mind/Body Connection to Better Golf

PODCAST_HEADER_JAKEOur guest this episode is golf instructor Jake Thurm, who was named by Golf Digest as one of the best young teachers in America. Jake is the lead instructor at Fresh Meadow Golf Club and works with top Tour professionals including Kevin Streelman and James Hahn. You can learn more about Jake at jakethurmgolf.com.

In this interview with Jake, we learn:

  • The benefit of being a “hard trier” in golf
  • Why he’s read over 700 golf books
  • The biggest lesson he learned from his mentor, Dr. Jim Suttie
  • How he uses technology to fine tune the game of PGA Tour winners like Kevin Streelman and James Hahn
  • The primary reason why learning the golf swing is not paint by numbers
  • Why he doesn’t label his students by their handicap
  • Understanding the relevance of your 10-shot window
  • The similarity between business and working with top Tour professionals
  • The importance of tracking your statistics on the golf course
  • A simple tip to improve your performance under pressure

Interviewer: Walter Lis. Running Time: 52:00
Click here to download an MP3 file.

CHICAGO GOLF REPORT:         First of all how did you find the sport and secondly how did you find your way into becoming a golf instructor?

JAKE THURM:        I didn’t come from a golf family. In fact, I had an uncle that perhaps could break 90 occasionally who lived in Philadelphia whom I rarely saw. Everybody else in my family didn’t play golf. Maybe in a golf outing occasionally for work and it was the last sport I ever played.

My dad got into it. I was a caddy. I always told people I had been in the golf business my entire life. I started caddying when I was 12. I’m pretty sure that the age was 13 and I lied and said I was 13 just to caddy at Ruth Lake Country Club. This gave me access to the golf course on Mondays, and for a few years there I wasn’t using it, but my dad just got into golf and he loved it. He wasn’t any good at it but he loved it and I could bring a guest, and he goes you’re crazy not taking advantage of all this free golf.

So it really started from caddying. When I was caddying for members, I remember thinking this game can’t possibly be as hard as they’re making it look.

Probably the first time I ever touched a golf club was literally two weeks before freshman tryouts in high school, and I’m pretty sure that I was the very last person picked on the freshman/sophomore team, but I happened to make it, which was a much better choice for my body size. It was either golf or football in the fall and in football I would have gotten broken in half.

My thing was I was always a hard trier. I always felt behind in golf so I needed to catch up on the learning curve. I would hit 500 golf balls a day, and again, this is not a golfing family I was with, so I’m telling my mom I want to put a mat and net in the garage, she goes what, you’re crazy you know, so I could hit balls in the middle of winter.

I used to put a kerosene heater out there, and I would just hit balls all the time. 300 to 500 a day and basically try to catch up so to speak. I played at Downers Grove South and went on to play Junior College golf at the College of DuPage. And then I finished my undergrad at Millikin University and played on the golf team there.

CHICAGO GOLF REPORT:         How difficult was it making that transition from being a golfer to a golf instructor? Was it difficult for you when you reached the end of the line with college golf and making that decision to play or going to teach?

JAKE THURM:        I’m going to tell you that being a hard trier translating into an instructor is probably seamless. The problem is that it may have limited you when you were a player.

I remember my first golf book I ever got, and that’s what I’d do because I always felt behind, I started asking for golf books for Christmas. My parents at least in high school were not inclined to get me golf lessons.

couples-norman

Fred Couples and Greg Norman

Basically, the books that I chose were my two favorite players that also happened to be two of the best players that were on TV at that time – Greg Norman and Fred Couples. I read those books and I really didn’t feel that there was a lot there.

What I got out of those was that those guys were really really talented and a lot better than me. All of that we already knew. Nick Faldo was another person that was interesting to me, so I found out that David Leadbetter coached Nick Faldo.

I went from player books to instructor books, and in instruction books there was a lot more to it. There was less feel and it was more of a how-to manual from that instructor’s perspective. It was more thorough, it was more organized and thought out.

I really liked that, and I’ve probably read over 700 golf books. As I sit in my office and look up, most of them are here. I think my wife would like them all to be here.

I started reading David Leadbetter, and started reading anything I could get my hands on, Jimmy Ballard, Mac O’Grady, what limited stuff you could get from people that spoke to him.

I got more out of the instruction books. Now the only issue was, and to answer your question initially, how does a hard trier turn into an instructor? The problem is that he’s probably not the greatest player, because if I had an opening round of under par in a tournament, I was probably the only guy in front of the mirror that night. My teammates were going, what are you doing, you played really well today. I go, yeah, I’m trying to figure out what the heck it is that I did.

When Jimmy Ballard said to move off of it I did. When Mac said to stay centered I did. When Jim Hardy said to have a single plane, I tried that too.

All the while I think it was great for understanding certain systems that worked for certain players on an individual basis. But in terms of the growth of my own personal game, I can’t honestly say that at all times I was truly growing. In fact, golf is the only sport, and this is why I love what I do, that I practiced really really hard and got worse.

Every other sport for the most part, and I played other sports in high school and other sports growing up, every time I put the work in, I don’t want to say it was immediate, but I could see market growth throughout that process.

There were times where I’d make a swing change and this college golfer with a 74 tournament average and then all of a sudden I can’t break 80. It’s really about getting it right for the individual, and that’s what kind of lead me into instruction.

I certainly tried. I was an experimentalist, experimenting on a live host, unfortunately that was me. But I wouldn’t have it any other way.

I got to play college golf on a scholarship and I ultimately it was all good. But what I like to do is help people that have the same passions that I do, perhaps not waste so much time.

CHICAGO GOLF REPORT:         You worked with Doctor Jim Suttie. Can you give a little bit of background of that kind of evolution for you? When you decided you were going to become a teaching professional, then what happened? How did the steps evolve?

JAKE THURM:        Well, I grew up with Kevin Streelman, and pretty much was his tackling dummy. I could not take that guy down. I had to play great and he had to play awful. If I played good, and he played good, he got me. And if I played great and he played a good, he got me. I didn’t really have the whole failed player around me, because at no point did I think I was going to be on the PGA Tour.

THURM-STREELMANGoing back to something I said previous, the guys that were interesting to me, were guys telling the talented guys what to do. I didn’t have that. My background is in the behavioral sciences, so my degree is a bachelor of science in clinical psychology.

I’ve worked for DCFS in Decatur and Chicago, as a child abuse investigator. I also was a respite worker with mentally ill children in DuPage County.

My background is a little bit different than maybe a golf professional, although I did try the club professional out for a second. My background is in the behavioral sciences and to me it was always about the client, so I just wanted to help them.

I actually thought I was going to go into social work. I learned really quickly at DCFS and as a respite worker, you have to be a tougher person than me. I have the greatest amount of respect for people in those fields. You have to be a far tougher person than I am to do that for the rest of your life.

So that kind of let me back to golf, and when I was managing a golf shop, I didn’t feel like I was a part of the game. I didn’t feel like I was helping anybody, but I realized that even after an 8-10-hour shift in the shop of folding sweaters, I was looking forward to the two or three hours of teaching that I had after.

Now, you would think that I either a, wanted to go hit balls or b, get the heck out of there and go home. But I was writing notes during my shift about what I was going to tell this person. And to be honest, most of my clients were juniors because that’s how you learn. So ultimately, if they don’t kill each other in the lessons, you must have done something right. But that’s kind of how you cut your teeth.

I was at Ruffled Feathers Golf Club, where I was managing the golf shop there. And across the street from me was the number one teacher in all of Illinois, Doctor Jim Suttie. Every single opportunity that I had I would go across the street and I would watch that man teach. I might set up the range and I wasn’t even being paid. He would always try and give me something and I would say knowledge is my reward. I would watch that man teach all day.

I ended up working for him for quite a few years down in Naples, Florida at the place he is still that, which is Twin Eagles. I was pretty confident that I knew how to teach players that I was better than. Where I would say most golf pros they are going to do more right from wrongs. With most people, they’re a better golfers than. But I was not very confident in teaching someone that was better than me, which obviously it will bring us into the tour clients that I have.

And all that time when I wasn’t with Doc, or with these pros, I was travelling the country in my Nissan Altima. Anyone that was gracious enough to share and let me watch them teach, I took full advantage of that.

I would write letters to say, hey, if possible, and you tell me when, I’ll get in my car and drive there. If you would let me watch you teach, if you would have lunch with me and I can just ask you questions. And I would always pre-apologize that I had a thousand questions.

JIM-SUTTIE-LESSON

Dr. Jim Suttie

My thought process was one, my background in clinical psychology and then two, my main mentor, Doctor Jim Suttie is a Doctor of kinesiology, so for me it was really about mind and body. I never claim to be a medical expert, though I do have a fair understanding of what the body should be doing when creating a golf swing, and in a healthy way. And the psychology was actually how to communicate that simply.

I’ve learned a long time ago that sounding smart never made anyone better, and I was living proof of that. I went to these great teachers that I maybe understand now, in retrospect. But I was like one of my wife’s third-grade students sitting in class when they say yeah, do you understand what I’m saying, and I would be like yeah, because you just don’t want to appear stupid.

I really wasn’t learning and I was just deflecting or hiding in a way. It really was about mind and body. It was having an understanding of what I’m looking at from a biomechanical standpoint, with different bodies.

That really is Doc’s thing that he brought to golf. He is a pioneer in that way is that he brought body types and swing types in. In other words, not everybody swings the same way. Anyone who watches golf on a weekend, knows that not everybody swings the same way, and that was interesting to me.

That was really interesting to me, because getting back to what I said before, I knew I tried a million different ways, but unfortunately for me, there was really only one way that I could perform my best. And it was a long, arduous process to learn that, but I’m kind of glad that I went through that process.

CHICAGO GOLF REPORT:         Can you talk a little bit about how you utilize technology with Kevin Streelman and PGA tour level players?

JAKE THURM:        The comparison that I make is I have a five-year-old and a two-year-old at home, and everyone who has kids knows this. I had to show my wife the other day how to download an app, whereas if you slide that iPad to my five-year-old, he’ll put the password in and he’ll flip through all the apps and find the game he wants to play, pull it up. I mean, he’s well versed.

So technology, with the generation previous to me perhaps has gotten a bad rap. But that generation used a lot of video, and the generation previous to them, using video got a bad rap as well.

Technology is a way to assess and not guess, and as technical as it looks to the previous generation of instructors and players, I still point out my five-year-old on the iPad. This is not technical to the next generation of young players, in fact they grow up with it. They’re more optimized and they understand TrackMan. They understand BodiTrak, which is a device that I use as much as anybody.

When I’m working with Kevin Streelman, James Hahn, or whoever. And again, I have the greatest respect for the teachers previous to me, because they said something and they must have said it in a way to convince the players to do it. But for me, technology is great because it gets away from, do this because I say so and I’m Jake.

I actually think that technology in a lot of ways, is so beneficial to the student. But I think in a way that the reason it’s beneficial to the teacher is that it saves the student from the teacher’s opinion or influence. Because it gets to the point where you look at these numbers, and we’ve become a sabermetric society.

You get to these numbers, and you go dude, this is what you’re doing. Now, there still is coaching. That would be the interpretation of data, but the influence of those numbers is where we still do get into coaching. But the neat thing is that the issue isn’t up for debate.

In other words, when you use a TrackMan, we know exactly why that ball does what it does. And if they want to argue, they say, I guess I’ve got to go and talk to the orange box.

BodiTrak is a pressure mat. I’m on the Tour Advisory Board and that’s kind of what I’m known for out there is this pressure mat that shows their movements. This shows a lateral and a rotational, and a vertical. And it shows what time they do that.

BodiTrak Golf Pressure System

BodiTrak Golf Pressure System

I think a lot of players come to me and they said, I got a lesson from so-and-so, and I go great! These are good teachers, why haven’t you stayed with them? And they go, well my handicap has kind of plateaued. And you know then they almost want to knock the teacher they had previous.

I look at their swing and I go listen, so and so gave me a lot of great pieces to work with here. They taught you how to hold the club, and perhaps the only thing that’s been lacking is putting it all to motion.

In other words, those that have practiced in front of a mirror, and then have gotten in front of a camera and hit a golf shot have always been disappointed. Well why?

The reason is because when you go in front of a mirror and you stop your backswing, you’ve already ceased creating motion, so you can put that backswing wherever the heck you want. I could put it where Jim Hardy wanted it, or I could put it where David Ledbetter wanted it. But once I got in front of a golf ball and made a golf swing, my motion perhaps did not allow for that position. I always say, for anybody who always works in front of a mirror was always disappointed because motion doesn’t translate when you practice it in a static position.

You can practice your posture in front of a mirror. But you’re not going to get much out of it.

The neat thing about technology is I only use video for the students. I have this 3-D system called Swing Guru, BodiTrak all these things. I only use video to show the person that it is indeed them. That’s it, it’s like yeah that’s you. That handsome guy right on the screen, that’s you, okay. I do believe in the visual aspect in the learning, so when they see themselves do it, then there is a stronger belief level.

When I was growing up, and when I watched Eamonn Darcy hit a golf ball or Allen Doyle, I don’t really know where your backswing should be. I don’t really know what your swing should look like. And anybody that does is lying to you. I cannot possibly venture to guess what your swing is until I know more about you.

Technology is in the process I take students through, because also my indoor academy is Athletico Golf Performance Center, it’s in Oakbrook. My teaching partner, who is probably the best physical therapist in Chicago when it comes to golf is Jeremy Smith. If I had everyone that comes to see me, they would not come to see me initially. They would first go see Jeremy.

He would do a full evaluation, because he is a licensed physical therapist. He is a medical professional. I am not, I’m just a swing coach, and from the evaluation Jeremy gives to me, I already know what you can and can’t do.

The funniest thing about Jeremy is he played college golf. He is a low single handicap, and he would tell you, that he doesn’t know how to give a golf lesson.

I am TPI Certified, but I wouldn’t claim to be a medical expert. So if everyone stays in their lane, and you use technology accordingly, I already know what you can and can’t do. What I have done is I’ve saved you from my own influence. I’ve saved you from my own opinion, and I think people knew that when they were taking their lessons anyway. Because they go yeah, I’ve been working on my backswing for a year. And I’m like, well, how’s that gone?

Well, I can’t do it yet. And I go well, how is your handicap? Well, it’s just how it was, and I go, maybe one, it’s not something you should be doing. Or two, there is something is not allowing for it to happen. This idea of, well, just do it a 1000 more times, and you’ve got it, isn’t practical.

My whole thing is I was probably taught in my golf lessons as a junior to paint by numbers, a little bit. In other words, this is where the club should be. This is the perfect grip. This is the perfect facing, or this is how you’re supposed to look at impact.

Even though, I didn’t see any of that on TV, but that’s what I was told and I tried to insert tab A into slot B. I tried to work on these systems and unfortunately, I mean they weren’t all bad. I obviously achieved to scratch level. I had some good tournaments, shot some good scores at one point. But the problem was, at no point in my lesson was I included.

In other words, that person kept giving the same lesson, if they were successful teachers for eight hours. They gave eight hours of the same lesson, and I didn’t want to do that and that wasn’t very interesting to me.

CHICAGO GOLF REPORT:         You work with as high as PGA Tour level golfers. Are you taking new students?

JAKE THURM:        It’s funny, being an instructor is kind of like building your golf game. I mentioned Faldo earlier. I spent a couple of days with him last month. Jim McLean was somebody that was interesting me. And I used to always tell people, I don’t want to work for Jim McLean, I want to be Jim McLean.

Jim McLean

Jim McLean

I would set these little goals and I told myself well, I could go and teach for somebody, but I’ve already done that. You’re not really a teacher, unless you have your own golf academy.

So I did that, and I came to Fresh Meadow and kind of took that over and became a Director Instructor with our corporation. And then I said well, you’re not really a teacher, not full-time, unless you’re teaching eight hours a day, six days a week in the summer. And then it took me some time and I did that. And then I go well, you know you’re not really a teacher, unless you’re charging “X” amount.

Each time, surprisingly, and happily I accomplished my goals. I’m at a good place now where this Golf Digest award has just been awesome for me. Social media has created a lot of awareness for me, BodiTrak and so on.

I’m in a place now where I can pick and choose who I work with, and I think it’s great. The older I get the less I know. Instead of trying to be everything for everybody, I think if you’re a really good teacher you can help a lot of people.

I have sent other clients to other people, friends, people I look up to. I have had people come up to me and they go yeah, I think I should take lessons from you. And I go have you taken lessons before. And they’re like, yeah, I take them at so and so. And I go well he’s a really good coach. I go, are you still improving? Because if you’re still improving that’s the name of the game. If that ever stops, just remember that there is this nice guy that told you not to take lessons from him right now.

To me, I’m pretty full. I book about two weeks in advance. It’s funny, over the years, those that have stuck with me that hopefully knew I was smart before other people said that I was.

To answer your question, I am taking new clients always. Probably the person that should seek me out is a serious golfer. When you start coaching to Tour players, you get the beginning golfer who goes, “I probably even shouldn’t be here”.

I look at them and go well, are you serious? What is your goal? If he just wanted to get the ball in the air for the golf outing, we can do that, but I’m probably not his guy.

I want people that are serious. I want people that to be honest, are a little crazed like I am and passionate about improving. That’s my client.

I don’t actually label people by their handicap. I think that’s a huge mistake because it doesn’t matter. Everyone who comes in and tells me I want to be more consistent. And I always tell them, you’re every bit as consistent as a tour player, you just don’t like the results.

In other words, 90% of your rounds are going to fall within a 10-shot window, right. For a tour player, that’s 65 to 75. Now, did they shoot lower than 65? Yeah, Kevin had a 63 a month and a half ago, but that happens and it’s an outlier. And can they shoot over 75? Sure they can, and that’s probably when they miss the cut. But 98% of the rounds are going to come within a 10-shot window.

What I tell the amateur, is so do yours. You don’t want this idea of consistency, and in fact, if you shot 90 all day, I would actually tell you that it would be great if you were a little inconsistent. Why not get off 90 and maybe shoot lower ever so often?

But they shoot in a 10-shot window as well. I tell them, you’re every bit as consistent. You just want to load the 10-shot window. And that’s what improvement in golf is.

No scratch golfer wants to admit that he or she can go out there and shoot a round of 80. They never want to admit, because no one wants to admit the top of the 10-shot window. Everyone wants to think of themselves in the middle, or obviously at the bottom in those special rounds. That’s why we play.

But from a coaching standpoint, and from a guy that’s more of an analytics guy, I try to run people like a business, especially Tour players. Because I get asked all the time, how do you coach these guys? Isn’t it really different? My response is it is and it isn’t. It is when you’re on the range at the British Open or the Masters.

It’s not lost on me, I know where I am. I’m fully aware. But ultimately, I’m still doing what I’m doing. The only difference is, you’re looking at the best shots you’ve ever seen in your life. Ones you can’t possibly do yourself, and you have to tell them everything wrong with it, that’s the only difference.

People laugh and go geez, what do you do with that? My response is you run them actually, like a business.

In other words, I learned quickly that what they do on the range doesn’t mean much. And any player that ever said they hit so good on the range and lousy on the course understands what I’m saying. In a way, the range is necessary but it’s not everything.

What is everything is to perhaps take the human element out of it for a second when you analyze performance, and so I do everything off their statistics. I do it quarterly. If they’re struggling from a distance, or a length of putt, or a certain missed left, right or whatever that may be.

If you always go after it that way. I still work for the Arcis Golf Corporation. When I run my Golf Academy, they tell you, hey, good job here, and what’s the plan for here because this has taken a dip. And that’s how I do it with Tour players.

That brings us back to amateurs. So how do you do that with amateurs? Well, this is where I always tell people, I think a more serious golfer, I do not care what your 10-shot window is.

What I like to do is everything I possibly can to ensure improvement. I insist that they keep statistics. And golf is the only sport where the coach doesn’t run practice. I’m pretty sure that Coach Mike Krzyzewski is running practice, the players are not.

But golf is the only one where they show up, they hit balls and they tell you touchy-feely stuff like, my driver doesn’t like me. It’s like, well, what do I do with that?

So what I do with these golfers that come to me, I strongly encourage them to keep statistics. I can’t go on PGATour.com and look what they’ve been doing for the past few weeks. But they have an app for that.

I have gone through a few apps, and the one I’m currently into right now, and I’m sure there will be a better one. But right now, it’s the Mark Brodie app, the guy that came up with strokes gained statistics on the PGA Tour. It’s a little extra work, but if you’re going to improve at golf, it’s a lot of extra work.

This apps keeps many statistics and it’s on your phone and you can text or email it to me ahead of your lesson. Why is that important?

Because then I start getting my head around how you’ve been playing. I get to go watch Kevin or James Hahn play golf. I know all their tendencies. I know from 110 yards that if they were to miss they would be this direction left or right, long or short. I don’t know that with you, but if your statistics beat you to your own lesson, I can design practice for you.

Again, I’m using numbers as a way of saving you from my influence, because if you just come here and start swinging, basically without any investigation I’m just going to make your swing pretty. And I learned from my own experience that if you make someone’s swing look good, like Adam Scott, you may improve the golfer. Maybe, but if you go after a particular miss, which is statistically based, I’m going to go out on a limb and say, I guarantee you’re going to improve the golfer because golf is a game about your misses.

If I see a tendency, then that’s what we have to design practice around. It’s something in their swing, I am helping them with a technical issue in their golf swing. It must have something to do with the direction you’ve been missing in. Otherwise, what the heck are we doing?

CHICAGO GOLF REPORT:         I’ve got one final question for you and this relates to the mental side. For the average player, can you give them a tip that is something on the mental game? Is there something right off the top of your head that can help them you know solve maybe the negative thinking or whatever it is the case that a lot of players fall into?

JAKE THURM:        This is really where it kind of lights me up because this is why I got into it. I always tell people that at Tour events, there is less technical coaching. In other words, all this swing knowledge that I’ve obtained over time, gosh I don’t know if I use it a lot. Really, it’s about getting them to stick to the plan. I always tell people at a Tour event I use more of my psychology degree than anything that I learned from my golf mentor.

One of my favorite words is hamartia, and it’s from Shakespeare. It’s a word that implies a tragic flaw in the hero that you can see early that always kills them in the end, and that’s what I see with golfers.

There are a lot of great golf psychology books, and I’m not even going to recommend one of them. I’m going to recommend all of them, because the nice thing about reading a golf psychology book is all you have to ask yourself is, does that make it easier or harder? And if it makes it harder for you stop doing it because a lot of them tend to have the same message; stay in the present so on and so forth.

What I like to do is take people a different way with that. And again, I find instruction books to be for instructors. In other words, if you try to do what the instructor is saying in the book and that’s wrong, well gosh, that’s going to take a lot more to get out there and changing your pre-shot routine that you found in the golf psychology book.

I like players to read psychology books. I like them to read stories about golf not how to swing. I always tell them, why don’t you give me the keys to that car.

I tend to think of myself hopefully, and again I only have my undergrad, but it’s applying real world psychology. And this started when I was a junior golfer and I looked up to one of the best players in the Illinois PGA section, and I would ask him a thousand questions on how to play golf. And I told him in a very vulnerable moment, I’m pretty sure I choke in tournaments.

You can go a thousand ways with that, but it’s one of the best pieces of advice that I’ve been given. He said, let me ask you a question.

Before a tournament do you clean your clubs the night before? I said yeah, I clean my clubs.

He then asks do you lay out your clothes? And I mean, I have no idea where he’s going with this, and I said yeah, I lay out my clothes.

He then asks, do you shine your shoes and make sure you have nothing in your spikes and all that? Yeah. Mark your golf ball? Yeah.

He said, do you show up to the tournament an hour before, so you have plenty of time to warm up? I go yeah.

And he asks do you do that when you play golf with your buddies? And I said no.

He says, so you play with dirty clubs, and then you just pull one out of your bag and you clean that when you hit the shot and throw it back in? Yeah.

And do you sometimes use like an old ball from the bag, because that one was marked? Yeah.

Do you just wear anything that sticks to you in the morning? Yeah.

Do you get there are five minutes before your tee time and just make a couple of hard practice swings and just go. And then tell your buddies hey breakfast ball if it’s not in play? I go yeah.

So do you see what I’m getting at?  I respond, you want me not to have clean clubs and you want me to get to my tournament five minutes before I go?

And he said no, well actually he said, you could. But what I’m telling you is that you need to start treating golf the same as tournament golf. In other words, if you want to be good in tournaments and you want clean clubs, then you should probably do that before a round with your buddies. You should probably get there and hit a bucket of balls before you play. That way the mind knows no difference.

In other words, those that are struggling, they are knowingly struggling in their golf psychology. The problem is that you are valuing it differently.

In other words, if I had you walk across a bridge that was a foot off the ground and I’d say what back and forth 10 times for me you would go, okay, and then you would start texting. You would start returning emails like this is boring.

But if we put a bridge of a skyscraper, it’s the same sized bridge, but if I said, hey, you have got to walk back and forth 10 times you’re going to go across that thing like Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom.

You’re going to be holding on to the sides. The slightest little wind shakes the bridge. It’s the exact same size as it was 2 feet off the ground. The task is identical, but the problem is that you now value it differently. In other words, you fall off, you die. That’s what people get with their golf game.

When they hit their first shot in the rough with their buddies it’s not that big a deal, because nothing bad has happened to you yet. But people value tournaments differently, and they tend to write stories that they haven’t read yet. Because they could hit it rough with their buddies and be fine, but now they’ve done that in a tournament off the first tee, today is going to be a bad day.

I’ve had dreams, nightmares in the past – and people tell me they tell me, Jake, I struggle with negative thinking. My response is, it’s the fact that you value that it’s negative is the problem.

In other words, I’ve had dreams at night where I’ve died in a plane crash. The next day when I’m teaching and I hear – because we teach right next to the airport, that when I see a plane go overhead I don’t think it’s going to come down and hit me just because I had the dream the night before. It’s the valuing of it as a negative that is the problem. It’s a self-fulfilling prophecy.

If people could treat golf similarly, and what I’m saying is the ones that treat the tournaments differently, they are already different the night before when they are laying out their clothes. The fix is already on. The compromise has already happened.

I always tell people with expectations that there is a trashcan right next to the first tee. Make sure you throw them in there. The valuing of it differently is why it’s so hard to get it done.

Now, there will always be the struggle. I say that as though it is simple, and it is actually the key component here. What I want golfers to know that come to me, is that you’re not alone. In other words, that when you say, I can’t bring the range game to the golf course, well that’s everyone.

If I see Tiger Woods on the range one more time, and then tell me how great he is on the range, and how he struggles on the golf course, I’m going to be sick. Because they make it seem like Tiger is the only one struggling with that. That’s every golfer. That is the struggle of golf is to bring the range to the golf course.

I think you have got to bring the course to the range and fight the good fight, but that will always be the struggle. The struggle is the value of what you’re doing, and the fact that your score is going to go next to your name on the Internet for all to see, good or bad.

So it must mean so much more, even though I’m pretty sure, my five-year-old couldn’t care less. He just wants to you know he wants to watch the new Star Wars movie.

But that is the struggle. In other words, they already treated it differently and they haven’t hit a golf shot yet. Therefore, I would tell them you’re four over and you haven’t even hit the first tee ball.

Our guest this episode is golf instructor Jake Thurm, who was recently named by Golf Digest as one of the best young teachers in America. Facebooktwitterredditlinkedinmail

Walter Lis

Walter Lis is the managing editor of Chicago Golf Report, which launched in 2010.

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