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AUTHOR : CHARLIE EPPS

author-charlie eppsKnown as "The Golf Doctor," Charlie Epps has been one of Houston's most respected PGA professionals for 30 years. He is the Director of Golf at Redstone Golf Club, home of the PGA Tour's Shell Houston Open.

Epps teaches two-time major champion Angel Cabrera and second-year Tour player Bobby Gates. Listen to Epps 9-10 a.m. Saturday mornings on Yahoo! Sports Radio on 1560 AM in Houston, channel 127 pm Sirius satellite and 242 XM.

He can be reached at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

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Learn from Jack’s winning thoughts

Written by Charlie Epps on 01 December 2010.

I am convinced, at the age of 65, that your golf swing is a result of what you have in your mind. The only way to have a proper golf swing is to have good swing thoughts. David Graham, the two-time major championship winner, said, "All physical action is rooted in the mind."

So as we approach the New Year and celebrate the holiday season, let's commit to filling our minds with the proper golf information. You can't have a good golf game without good thinking. You can't have good thinking without good thoughts.

When I went to work for Jack Nicklaus in the early 1990s, it was my responsibility at the Nicklaus/Jim Flick Golf School to pass on Jack Nicklaus' thoughts about golf to the students. While doing my research in reading all of Jack's books, I came across perhaps the best golf book ever written. It was entitled, Jack Nicklaus' Playing Lessons.

Through that book, I learned about Jack's thoughts on winning. To this day, I refer to these thoughts—not only for my teaching—but for my personal game.

If you have any doubts to the value of these ideas, let me dispel them. For starters, the ideas I learned from Jack—the very ideas I'll share with you over the coming months—were many of the same ones critical in my success with Angel Cabrera on his way to winning the 2009 Masters.

In terms of my own game, once I learned Jack's winning thoughts, I won my major championship—the STPGA Senior Championship—three times in five years. I was in my mid-50s, and I won the major at a 60 percent clip from 1996-2000. I finished twice two other times and had two, final-round 64s. I attribute all of that success to using Jack's thoughts on winning.

As they say, the proof is in the pudding. And that's some pretty good pudding, wouldn't you agree? So here is your first Christmas present, Jack's first winning thought:

Learn the fundamentals of a good golf swing and putting stroke. Stick to them through thick and thin.

The fundamentals of the swing are: Grip, Aim, Stance and Swing. I've always called them "GASS," and it's the acronym I use to remind students of the fundamentals. You can't play good golf with bad GASS.

To keep the positive thoughts alive, I tell my students to write themselves notes to which they can refer before, during and after their rounds. All great players, from Tiger Woods to the best amateurs around, go to the course each day with thoughts in their minds that guide them around the course. You can do the same thing.

When my daughters were in high school, I'd write them little notes before every tournament they played. The notes might read, "Good Aim," or simply "Smile," or "Relax" or "Good Grip." They'd find these notes and refer to them during competition.

It goes back to the fact that the physical action is determined by your mental commands. Muscles don't move without thoughts. It all starts in the mind.

Whether it's the full swing or the putting stroke, it's all the same. Every shot in golf requires GASS. In terms of your grip, the thought might be "Proper Grip Pressure." For the stance, you might think, "Good Posture." For the swing, it's "Tempo, Timing and Rhythm." What you write down for reminders comes down to personal preferences. You want positive thoughts rooted in your mind, accumulated through past experiences.

You should cling to these thoughts and reminders as if everything depends on them. Just because they don't work all the time, it doesn't mean we have to forget about them. If you develop good GASS and keep your mind filled with positive swing thoughts and mental triggers, I promise you it will pay off. You'll play better golf and shoot lower scores many more times than not.

And on those days when nothing's working, stick to the fundamentals and think positively. You'll reap the benefits—maybe not that day, but if you stick with your fundamentals, you'll soon find your way again and be an even stronger golfer because of it.

Stay tuned in the coming issues of Texas Links for more of Jack's wining thoughts. Until then, I hope everyone has a wonderful holiday season.

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