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Mental Game – Forget About It

Mental Game – Forget About It

I have a good friend who I’ve known for several years now, and have played countless rounds of golf with. We’ve talked golf for hours on end together, the tours, swings, courses, tournaments you name it. If it’s golf related we’ve talked about it. Naturally during the course of playing so much golf together we’ve talked about each others games, and various improvements that we each can make.

One of the things that I’ve worked with him on constantly is his mental approach to golf. He is a perfectionist, a relentless self-examiner and someone who can hang onto one swing, one shot for an entire round. I’ve seen him make a bad swing on the 2nd hole of a round, make a bogey and then proceed to par the next sixteen holes for an easy 1-over par round of golf. Something that 99.9% of golfers in the world would die for, and all he can think about is that one bad swing he made.

Why? Why do we as golfers dwell on something so trivial? My friend might be an extreme case, but as a golfer how many times have you had a blow up hole, or swing and you’re still thinking about it several holes later? How many times have you said to yourself after a round; “If only I hadn’t three-putted that hole” or “If I didn’t have that blow up hole I would have broken 80, 90, whatever” What if those thoughts were perpetuating the cycle of bad shots and holes?

Why hold onto a shot or hole, or even a round long after it’s said and done? If you have a bad hole, and are thinking about it on the next hole all you’re doing is taking your focus away from the shot at hand. What happens when you’re not 100% focused on the shot you’re hitting? With a lack of focus and concentration, you increase the likelihood that you won’t hit the shot that you want to hit. Of course, this makes you upset and keeps you thinking about your previous bad shots.

I’m sure you’ve all heard it before, the advice to take it one shot at a time. But have you really let that advice sink in and realize what it can do for your game? More than just focusing on the shot in front of you, it means forgetting about the shot you just hit. It doesn’t matter if it was the best shot of your life, or the worst, because it’s still your last shot. You can’t change it, you can’t fix it, you can’t hit it again, so there is no benefit to your round to even think about it at all.

It’s easier said than done, but perhaps an old trick that Tiger Woods used to do in his prime (maybe he should try it again now?) It’s been said that on every hole, and every shot he gave himself seven steps to think about the shot he’d just hit. Once he got to the eighth step he had wiped it from his memory banks, not to be thought about until well after the round. I think this was a large part of what was behind his supreme dominance.

The next time you’re out on the course, go a little easier on yourself and understand that every shot you hit is immediately in the past and unchangeable. Let it go, and realize that the more you can stay in the present and focused on the shot in front of you rather than what you just did, then slowly but surely your stretches of bad holes will be reduced to one hole, or one shot. It won’t be easy, it won’t happen immediately so don’t expect it to. However just like any other “practice” the more you do it, the more natural and consistent you will become. Now if I could only get my friend to grasp this concept. On second thought, maybe I shouldn’t help him, I don’t want to give him more ammo to use against me.

Read More from Tim on his golf blog,

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