Apr 01, 2024

How to Be the Best Golf Partner with Kathy Hart Wood and Justin Klemballa

beginner golfers golf routines golf tips and tricks mental hurdles of golf on the course podcast tournament golf

Tired of crumbling under pressure when playing partner golf? Drained from constant apologies and deflated by mental fatigue? Fed up with poor strategy and soul-crushing negativity?

If you answered "yes" to any of those questions, you've come to the right place. Because today, we're unleashing a partner golf revolution – a five-pronged assault on everything that's been holding you back from unleashing your true golfing potential.

"We're live from week two of the Desert Classic! Alongside Kathy Hart Wood, Justin Klemballa, and Kim Eaton, I discuss five ways to become a better partner in tournament golf."

1. The Three C's: A Mental Mastery Trilogy

Newsflash: golf is a head game. But fear not, for we've unlocked the mental trifecta that'll have you swinging with the serenity of a Zen master. Behold, the Three C's:

  • Calm: Serene as a glassy lake, unruffled by life's ripples.
  • Certain: Unwavering belief in your abilities, a beacon of confidence.
  • Confident: The swagger of a champion, radiating poise and self-assurance.

As Kathy Hart Wood so eloquently puts it:

The key? Identifying your optimal state and embracing it like a long-lost friend. When the Three C's align, your swing becomes a graceful dance, and your partner's jaw drops in awe.

2. The Anti-Apology Pact: A Sorry-Free Zone

"The reality is, is you're gonna miss shots, you're gonna hit shots at the wrong time, that's golf. But when you say I'm sorry, or I didn't mean to do that, you feel bad and it's gonna take you energy to get back to being calm, certain or confident for you to make your best swing."

Imagine a world where missed putts and errant drives are met with shrugs and high-fives, not groveling and self-flagellation. It's a beautiful thing, isn't it?

So, gather 'round with your partner, lock pinkies, and swear a solemn oath: No more apologies, only acceptance and determination. After all, the only real mistake is dwelling on the past.

3. Chip Away at Mental Fatigue: Conserve Your Focus Chips

Ever feel like your mental game is running on fumes by the back nine? You're not alone:

"You wake up every day with a certain amount of poker chips to focus. Once you are out of poker chips, you're mental toast."

But fear not, for we've got a strategy to stretch those precious focus chips further than a contortionist at a circus:

  1. Ditch the Complaints: Griping about slow play, that pesky bunker lie, or your partner's questionable fashion choices? That's a surefire way to burn through your focus chips faster than a Vegas high-roller.
  2. Embrace the Present: Dwelling on that triple-bogey from three holes ago? That's ancient history, pal. Keep your mind firmly anchored in the here and now.
  3. Let It Go:  Arguing with reality is a losing battle, so embrace the flow and roll with the punches.

By conserving your mental energy, you'll be a focused, sharp-witted machine come the final putts. And that, my friends, is how you seize victory.

4. The Art of Strategic Positioning: Optimal Angles and Short-Side Avoidance

Alright, strategy buffs, this one's for you. Brace yourselves for some next-level course management wisdom, courtesy of our resident swing savant, Justin Klemballa.

Optimal Angles: The Key to Unlocking Green Supremacy

"If the pin is on the left side, you want to be at somewhere on the right side of that fairway. If the pin is on the right side, you wanna be somewhere on the left side of that fairway, want to give yourself that optimal angle coming into the green."

Hear that, partner? It's the sweet, sweet sound of increased greens in regulation. By positioning yourselves on the optimal angle, you're setting the stage for a glorious approach shot – the kind that leaves flagsticks quivering in fear.

Short-Side Avoidance: Dodging Disaster, One Shot at a Time

Now, let's talk about those pesky short-side misses – the bane of every golfer's existence. But fear not, for Justin Klemballa has a foolproof plan:

"If you can hit that short side avoidance when you're coming into a green, it's gonna set yourself up for avoiding those bigger numbers, especially on the better ball day."

In other words, avoid missing the green on the same side as the pin, and you'll be rewarded with easier up-and-downs and lower scores. It's a simple concept, but one that could mean the difference between victory and utter despair.

5. The Power of Positivity: A Joyful Juggernaut

Last but certainly not least, we come to the secret sauce that ties this whole partner golf extravaganza together: pure, unadulterated positivity.

Imagine a world where every shot is met with encouragement, every mishit celebrated as a learning opportunity, and every laugh shared with your partner echoes across the course like a melodious birdsong.

But how, you ask, can one cultivate such a radiant aura of positivity? Fear not, for we've got a few tricks up our sleeves:

  1. Positive Conversations: As Justin Klemballa advises, "Control your conversations inside of, uh, during the tournament and, uh, make sure that they're always positive ones, even if it has nothing to do with golf." Gush about your partner's killer outfit, swap hilarious tales of family shenanigans, or discuss the finer points of artisanal cheese-making – just keep those good vibes flowing.
  2. Encouragement, Encouragement, Encouragement: Remember that chat we had about what kind of words you'd like to hear from your partner? Well, time to put that knowledge into action. Shower each other with affirmations, high-fives, and maybe even a celebratory shimmy or two (just don't pull a muscle, okay?).
  3. Laughter is the Best Medicine: They say that laughter is the best medicine, and in the world of partner golf, it's a performance-enhancing elixir. Embrace the silliness, the camaraderie, and the sheer joy of spending a day on the links with your favorite golfing buddy.

By fostering an atmosphere of unwavering positivity, you'll not only have a blast out there, but you'll also unlock your true golfing potential – a combination that's practically unbeatable.

The Ultimate Partner Golf Cheat Sheet


Key Takeaway

The Three C's

Identify your optimal mental state: Calm, Certain, or Confident. Embrace it, live it, love it.

The Anti-Apology Pact

Ditch the "S" word (sorry) and embrace a world of acceptance and determination.

Chip Away at Mental Fatigue

Conserve your focus chips by ditching complaints, living in the present, and embracing the flow.

Strategic Positioning

Unlock optimal angles and master short-side avoidance for a strategic edge.

The Power of Positivity

Foster an atmosphere of joy, encouragement, and laughter – a surefire recipe for success.

Laminate it, frame it, or tattoo it on your forehead – whatever it takes to ingrain these partner golf pearls of wisdom into your very essence.

A Hole-by-Hole Partner Golf Playbook

But wait, there's more! We've got a special treat for you, dear readers: a hole-by-hole playbook tailored specifically for the Desert Classic at Papago Golf Course. Because let's face it, knowledge is power, and a little insider intel never hurt anyone.

Hole 1: The Gentle Opener

  • Par: 4
  • Strategy: Aim for the left side of the fairway to avoid the water on the right. As Kim Eaton wisely advised, "If you hit it to the right, you're probably gonna be in the water."
  • Positive Affirmation: "I'm starting this round with a calm, focused mindset, setting the tone for greatness."

Hole 11: The Daunting Water Carry

  • Par: 3
  • Strategy: As Kimberly Eaton declared, "One of the harder holes for a lot of you women is gonna be hole number 11. Par three over water." Embrace the challenge, embrace the fear, and then promptly punch that fear square in the face with a well-struck iron shot.
  • Positive Affirmation: "I am a water-conquering warrior, and this hole belongs to me."

The Rest: A Choose-Your-Own Adventure

For the remaining holes, we'll follow Justin Klemballa's sage advice:

"Allow yourself to have six hard holes out there where you're not gonna score as well. And be okay with having a score on a hole that's not as good as you could have had. Then you're gonna play a couple of holes when you're out there. That seem really easy. Wow, there's not a lot of trouble in front of me. This is your, like, this is your green light hole."

In other words, embrace the ebb and flow of the round. Identify your "hard holes" and give yourself permission to play conservatively. Then, when those "green light holes" present themselves, pounce like a tiger and rack up those birdies (or net birdies, as Justin so eloquently put it).

Nurture Your Partnership: A Bond Forged in Golf

At the end of the day, partner golf is about more than just strategy and mental toughness – it's about nurturing a bond, a connection, a partnership that transcends the game itself.

As Kathy Hart Wood reminds us:

"Have your partner be there as your encouragement and as your support and share with them what to say to you. Because sometimes your partner doesn't know, right? They have no idea what you want to hear or what you need to hear."

So, take a moment, gaze into your partner's eyes (but not in a creepy way, okay?), and lay your golfing souls bare. Share your fears, your aspirations, and the words that will buoy your spirits when the going gets tough. Because when you and your partner are truly in sync, you become an unstoppable force – a dynamic duo destined for greatness.

The Curtain Call: Embrace the Partner Golf Journey

And there you have it, folks – a veritable masterclass in partner golf supremacy, served up with a side of sass and a whole lot of heart.

But remember, this isn't just about winning tournaments or shooting lower scores (although those are certainly nice perks). No, this is about embracing the journey, savoring the camaraderie, and finding joy in every aspect of the partner golf experience.

So, grab your favorite golfing buddy, lock arms, and stride confidently onto the first tee, ready to conquer whatever challenges the course may hurl your way. Because when you've got a partner by your side and these five electrifying ways in your arsenal, you're practically unstoppable.

Let the dynamic duo reign supreme!

Connect with This Episode's Guests: 

Justin Klemballa

Kathy Hart Wood

Kim Eaton


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First T Crew [Behind the Scenes of Women’s Golf]


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