It was at the practice round of the AJGA Wells Fargo golf tournament that Bishops Gate golf academy first noticed Courtney Zhangs Potential. 

One of our most successful and most social players Karen Arimoto had asked if she could join us on our practice round, of course I agreed. My number one objective when traveling with Karen was to create an environment that she can be happy and have fun in, so having a friend join us would be great.

Myself, Karen and Tiger Lee (another polo ranked Bishops Gate Academy player), went about handling our business as we normally do in practice rounds. I would take photos of the tee shot, the preferred area for the approach shot and the green. These photos enable Bishops Gate players to play the course in their mind the night and morning before they tee off. I would also be responsible for locating the marks on the greens that reflect where the pins are going to be cut. Then I would place cup size discs on the floor so the players can simulate putts they may be faced with in competition, rather than just hole out with no purpose. 

Tiger and Karen would diligently pick lines and distance targets for shots and also record where North is on the hole to allow them to get a better idea of the wind on competition day. As a team, we would talk about the ‘good miss’ and find run off areas from the tee and around the green.

One of the most impressive things about team Bishops Gate is the effort that we go to, in order to gain as much information as we can during a practice round. This defiantly stood out to Courtney and her Mom, who, by the 4th hole had both joined us in our quest to be as strategically prepared for competition as possible. 

Immediately I was impressed with Courtney’s growth mind-set and desire to evolve as a golfer. She shifted from simply playing the course, to taking detailed notes and hitting various shots in and around the green. She also started to take photos as she embraced the theory that, playing the course in your mind before you play aids performance. This was after asking me a number of great questions and digesting the answers I provided. 

I was so impressed that I invited Courtney to the Bishops Gate team meeting. This is where traditionally the players lock away the outcomes they desire and set process goals that will pave the road to performance. Courtney was very enthusiastic, and again displayed the ability to absorb new information very quickly. Based on her attitude alone, I contacted Zach Parker (the director of golf) and suggested we invite Courtney to the academy to help her develop further to her goal of playing college golf.

Coincidentally, a few days before she arrived at the academy, Courtney actually met Zach during a practice round and reenforced everything I had relayed to Zach earlier. Once again she enjoyed the environment and focus that team Bishops Gate creates when preparing to perform.

The first thing we exposed Courtney to on her arrival to the academy was not JC video and a complex swing analysis, it was actually education on how to achieve elite performance and how she fits into the elite performance model. To be an elite performer there are 4 areas we need to practice. Technical, mental, physical and performance practice. These are a must if you want to be great! So we analyzed where Courtney’s focus was. It became evident that a large percentage of Courtney’s practice time was spent in the technical quadrant, so as a team we decided to help her shift to a more performance focused mind-set. She spent the morning with Matthew Cooke who gave her games to play setting target scores. I then educated Courtney on how to use a more process focused mind-set when playing the games, which would allow her scores to be a by- product of controlling the controllable.

Courtney also attended a golf specific fitness session which highlighted further her need to explore other elements of elite performance if she wants to evolve as a golfer. 

The final part of Courtney’s brief, but action packed time at Bishops Gate was to evaluate her previous tournament and fill in a daily practice log. This was my favorite part of the day as I watched Courtney enable herself and transform into her own best coach. I admired her ability to learn and grow as she cross-referenced the gaps identified in the post tournament analysis. She then explained to me how she was now going to take a different mindset into future events.

Since her visit to Bishops Gate, Courtney has qualified for the public links, the US girls and won an AJGA event, where she posted a second round of -5 and was bogey free for 35 holes. Courtney and her Mom credit the academy as playing a major role in these achievements. Read Courtney’s Mom’s Testimonial. 

I feel the major factor for Courtney’s success is her. Not once during this passage have I mentioned Courtney’s grip, club face at the top of her swing, or angle of attack. What I have mentioned, is her growth mind-set and ability to learn. She was willing to break her habits in her quest to become a college golfer. She was willing to try things in competition that she had never done before. She was willing to change and dared to be different. That’s why Courtney achieved what she achieved in such a small space of time. 

At Bishops Gate this is the type of player we desire to not only work with, but create. If you truly want to change your game, perhaps performance based practice, or a more strategic focused mental shift, is the key to unlocking your potential.

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