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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..


Rough start? Don’t panic

Written by Charlie Epps on 01 June 2011.

Patience is the key to any round of golf, whether it's the U.S. Open, a Saturday morning game with your buddies or a match with your spouse or loved one. Of course, when you are playing in the U.S. Open, everything is magnified.

Especially the need for patience.

I qualified for 1978 U.S. Open at Cherry Hills in Denver. Before heading to Colorado for the championship, I paid a visit to Claude Harmon, the father of my good friend Dick and the 1948 Masters champion. Mr. Harmon was in Houston visiting Dick, who was the pro at Houston Country Club at the time.

I asked Mr. Harmon for his advice on playing the U.S. Open at Cherry Hills.

"Charlie, always remember: you are going to make bogeys playing in the U.S. Open," he said. "But don't panic. Usually there will be more bogeys than birdies, but there will be birdies. So play for the middle of the fairways and the middle of the greens."

Mr. Harmon also told me not to get discouraged if I happened to start the first round with four straight bogeys. Mr. Harmon's good friend Ben Hogan always said he expected to make four bogeys in each round at any U.S. Open. Hogan also expected to make two birdies every 18 holes. On a par-70 course during a U.S. Open, Hogan's personal par was 72.

He kept realistic expectations.

It's just another aspect of Hogan's philosophy we all should adopt and practice. Setting realistic expectations should be easy. It's not like trying to hit a high fade with a 2-iron. Positive self-talk is mental. We all have the ability to think positively.

Lucas Glover, who was Dick Harmon's top pupil before Dick passed away in 2006, had a horrific start to the 2009 U.S. Open at Bethpage Black. Bam, first hole of the championship he makes double-bogey.

You might think he said to himself, "Here we go again." But I guarantee you it was more along the lines, "OK, I have 71 holes to recover."

He did recover, and he won the championship with a 4-under 276.

The key to a good golf score is positive self-talk. I think most would agree that Tiger Woods has lost that aspect of his game. How is your self-talk? Do you have positive or negative thoughts on the golf course?

How times have you started a round poorly? Maybe you double the first two holes. On the third tee, you "stop caring," and lower your expectations. Then, by the 16th tee, you realize you have a chance to shoot one of your best scores ever. So you start "over-trying" again and end up stumbling on the way in with more bogeys. Has that happened to you?

It reminds me of the 2005 Houston Astros. Midway through the season, the Houston Chronicle ran a full-page photo of a tombstone and pronounced them dead. The Astros played loose the second half and wound up in the World Series. Then they started pressing again and got swept by the Chicago White Sox.

This month's U.S. Open at Congressional has a chance to produce the highest scores in recent U.S. Open history. The course is 7,600 yards long with narrow fairways and small greens. When you're watching at home, be careful not to count out any of the world's top players if they happen to get off to a rocky start.

More often than not, the player who wins the U.S. Open is the one who not only plays the best golf. He's also the one who exhibits the most patience.

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