Ever had that feeling where you are having a great round and then get to the 14th or 15th hole and start to make silly mistakes? Wrong club, misjudge the wind, 3 putt from nowhere??
Always score better on the front 9 than the back 9?
Feel like you throw away too many good rounds by coming home on the bogey (or double bogey) train?
Playing consistent golf all the way through a round has a lot to do with being able to maintain concentration. Maintaing concentration has a lot do with keeping energy levels up. Keeping energy levels up is all about FOOD!!
Have you ever heard someone say, “He had a great round today, he was really focused?” When a professional is playing very well, the adjective that is often used to describe his mental state is “focused.” What does it mean to say that someone is focused? Focus is defined as “a point at which rays of light appear to diverge, or the clarity of an image rendered by an optical system.” Of all our different senses, focus is associated mostly with sight or the eyes. It is the ability of our eyes to zoom in on an object, or, in the case of golf, the target. For example, look at an object such as a book. Focus on the book. Now focus on the book with an increase in intensity. Next, focus on the book with an even higher increase in energy. Notice what happens when you increase your intensity. You get more absorbed into the object, and you may notice more details. The energy from your eyes to the object increases with greater fervour and all the other senses move to the background as you eyes become primary. The more you see with your eyes, the less you think with your brain. Let me repeat this truth, the more you see with your eyes, the less you think with your brain.
We know from a variety of studies that athletes performing at a high level have very little chatter in their brain, and their focus is extremely high. What happens when you are nervous or struggling on the golf course? Often you begin to increase the self talk and thinking, while decreasing the energy available for focusing. In an attempt to think through the struggle on the course, one often makes the problem worst by increasing the thinking, and diminishing the focus. I am not saying that thinking is bad,I am simply saying that lots of thinking during actual performance is usually detrimental.
Over the last 60 years technological advances in clubs and balls have helped golfers hit the ball farther and straighter than any time in history. The science of bio-mechanics has identified the perfect swing for every body type and improvements in error detection equipment help professionals pinpoint exactly where a golfer’s swing deviates from the ideal. How much have golfers, as a whole, improved their ability to score. According to the USGA, nothing! Both amateurs and professionals alike still score, on average, exactly the same as their counterparts of six decades ago. Not to minimize the great strides a small percentage of golfers make in their own journey, one would expect that these advances would lead to lower scores. They haven’t. In fact, USGA statistics show, that as a whole, golfers don’t improve after the third year in the game.
One of the Most Costly Mental Mistakes in Golf is the Easiest to Eliminate. Here’s How…
Golf is a game that is played mostly from within, and for this reason, it is important to know when you are putting too much pressure on yourself to perform. Having too high expectations of yourself is one of the biggest causes of a loss of self confidence and not playing to your potential. But by simply re-framing your mind-set and being more disciplined in your approach, you can easily eliminate this pressure and play better, more enjoyable golf.
Expectation is a self-created pressure we need to eliminate if we want to become better golfers. It demands that we should play in a certain way, and if we don’t, something is wrong, leading to frustration and self-doubt. The general opinion is that expectation and confidence are one in the same thing. If we expect to win a tournament or expect to hit great golf shots, this will increase our confidence. But in fact the opposite is true. Confidence is how much self belief you have in executing a given shot, not trying to continually meet expectations.
Whether it be your performance relative to your pre-round driving range session, your playing partners or your last round, continuously measuring yourself will you make you frustrated and further remove you from the process needed to execute good golf shots. For example, let’s say your last round was one of your best and you are getting closer to becoming the player you always knew you could be. Then during your next round you find yourself quickly several shots over your new expectation (target) of yourself. Thoughts of “what am I doing wrong?” and “this is not how I know I can play!” will result and you will quickly find yourself becoming frustrated and losing focus over the ball.
The opposite can occur if we are playing better than our expectations. If we go into self-assessment mode and measure our performance vs our expectations, we will feel out of our comfort zone and the result is likely to be a quick retreat back to our usual level of play.
Success in golf is playing each and every shot as best you can. This sounds obvious, but your score is an aggregate of all these individual shots. We need to focus on the execution process of each individual shot (THE PRESENT), not the target of a good score (THE FUTURE). I like to tell my students to focus on the steps of their shot routine and make that their goal for the round instead of going out there to shoot their best score. As hard as it is to do, mark your score card, but don’t think about your running total. At the end of each hole write down the number of shots that you felt you successfully stuck to your routine. Total these numbers and make this your target for your next round. If you can make this a habit, I’ve no doubt you will start to see the results and get more enjoyment from the game whether you shoot your best score or not.
Believe that your ultimate success in the game relies on being “in the zone” for every shot and making the best decisions you can for the shot at hand. Your best golf will come when you are in the present moment for each shot and truly enjoying the experience of the game.
Golf is a game of bad golf shots more than it is a game of good shots. That’s why sports psychologist Bob Rotella’s book was titled “Golf is Not a Game of Perfect.” Golf is one of those games that really only suits two types of people; golfers that thrive on challenge and who have a high tolerance threshold for hardship and adversity, and golfers who want to learn how to.
If you don’t fit into either of those categories then my best advice is for you to look for another easier game to play because you will not enjoy playing golf. That is the reality of elite level amateur golf and pro tour golf; it’s a tough game that suits tough minded individuals, because the majority of golf shots you will hit will be at times a lot less than you expected and you will need to be able to handle it and not let it affect your progress.
How you handle the constant and never ending challenges you face during a round of golf will determine to a great extent how successful you will be at playing the game of golf competitively. Since most of your golf shots will end up somewhere other than where you want them to you really need to prepare yourself better for it. Golf is one of the few games where you practice usually in a different place to where you perform, and this creates a lot of problems for golfers wanting to lower their golf score average.
When you look at a typical driving range or practice fairway you realise pretty quickly that they look very different to golf holes. A golf range is relatively flat in design and wide and the tee area is also flat. The target areas will usually have flags or mounds for you to hit shots to. The driving range is nothing like the design of a golf hole which is designed to challenge you from the tee all the way to the green with narrow fairways, bunkers and sloping greens designed to make you think.
Since many elite golfers spend many hours on driving ranges and practice greens honing their golf skills this is a significant contributing factor as to why many golfers fail to make consistent progress.For a start, you spend most of your time practicing shots into a wide catchment area – even though you might be hitting to a flag or something similar. You’re unconsciously conditioning your mind to become comfortable hitting to wider target areas, but when you go to the golf course you’re confronted with something entirely different.
So the way you go about practicing your golf skills away from the golf course could be having a dramatic effect on the way you play. If you practice on perfectly manicured tee’s all the time, how can you expect to pull off great recovery shots from tough lies around the golf course like these ones?
We live in a fast-paced, impatient society where instant gratification is often the norm. When we want something we want it now. Taking this sense of urgency into our golf game can be disastrous. Developing a patient attitude full of acceptance is our key to improved golf and greater consistency. What does that look like?
How many times have you witnessed the heartbreak of an athlete faltering at a crucial moment?The painstaking drama of the moment can be excruciating to watch, particularly when the athlete is at the height of their career or even worse, an athlete you coach. At these times, the terms choking or panicking are thrown around loosely to label the underperformance of the individual or team. But what do these terms mean? Is there a difference between them? And can anything prevent an athlete from choking? Continue Reading→
Set up a 9 hole course. The shots should be from various lies, lengths and utilise a range of clubs. At each station hit 2 balls (you can change clubs), once you have hit the two balls pick the worst shot and finish out the hole. Keep your score and complete the course 2 times. See if you can improve the second time around.
Repeat at training to challenge yourself, your imagination, and creativity and improve your skills with a range of clubs.
This is a variation of the game that Eben Dennis talks about in his Power Feel Golf Book. The game was invented by the late Ted Ball and is called “Cuts and Scrapes”. Try it and it will definitely help your mental game and lower your scores.
The game is designed to credit anything positive about your shots and your routine, so that becomes the focus. The more positive thoughts you have, the more you will suppress the negatives which is what we need to do for better performance. It is designed to teach you to focus on the process of hitting the shot at hand and to get you to stay in the present, instead of thinking about your total score.
It’s club championship time shortly. It’s an exciting time for many but it can also be a nerve-wracking experience that, for many players, ends in disappointment. A lot of golfers perform far below their potential and expectations in the club championship because they’re not as prepared as they could be. They don’t arrive on the first tee with as much confidence as they should. Also, many golfers aren’t sure how to be their own best coach – how to effectively execute shots and a sound game plan under tournament pressure.
1.Plan ahead. Give yourself the necessary practice and playing time to prepare for the club championship. Be clear on your preparation for this event at least three weeks prior – write it down. Block your calendar and plan sufficient practice time and pre-event rounds.
2.Practice effectively. Good performance in tournament golf is largely attributable to consistent tee shot execution: minimal errors and penalty strokes, high percentage putting conversions in the 4-10 foot range, and sound wedge play. Spend a high percentage of your pre-event practice time and effort on these skills to build competence and confidence.
3.Hole out in casual rounds don’t fall into the trap of not holing your short putts in casual rounds before the club championship. The habit of accepting “gimmies” – short putts in the 2-5 foot range – is common place. Expect to be nervous and miss a lot more of these critical length putts in competition if you don’t practice holing them out in your regular social rounds. If the putts are in fact that easy, then putt them in the hole.
4.Coaching check a week or two before the event it is a good idea to have a coaching session with your Professional – not a technical session but rather a session on key scoring skills and to discuss your game plan and execution strategies. Tap into your professional’s experience and expertise.
5.Set realistic goals in sports, less than 10 per cent of participants can expect “career” performances in major events. Preparing your best beforehand makes this highly probable. Know your skill and performance level, for example, a typical 12 handicap may likely have a 79-85 scoring range. Set up a game plan and shot strategies that are in alignment with your range. Don’t try to play a game that you don’t have. Don’t force shots – let the magic happen!
6.Create a written game plan. Write down how you plan to play each hole. Know your tendencies and where you feel the most confident and the most vulnerable on the course. Be appropriately aggressive and don’t be shy to play cautious on holes that are potential blow-ups for you. your plan should be focused on enabling you to hit as many greens in regulation as possible and planning for the most probable up and down conversion spots when you miss greens.
7.Focus on deep breathing to get relaxed over your shots. When golfers peak perform they are in a calm and relaxed state over the ball. Focus your energy and attention on using your breathing. Here’s a technique. Breath-in deeply through an imaginary straw and completely empty your lungs when you exhale; soften your body tension and lower your mental tension when you are over the ball. as the great George Knudson said, “don’t play golf to relax – relax to play great golf.”
8.Think the “right” stuff. Players perform their best in competition when they engage the right side of their brain – this is where the athlete lives. Right brain thoughts are “external” on the target, tempo, desired flight and simple performance cues like “full back and through” or “smooth roll.” Be careful not to play “golf swing” in competition: this can be a deadly performance buster – it is left-brained thinking on technique or a “to do” list. Leave this thinking on the practice tee.
9.See yourself succeeding. Visualize and imagine yourself executing your game plan – escaping from trouble and hitting good shots. Winners see themselves winning before they begin. Moe Norman always said that Jack nicklaus had the Green Jacket on his breakfast plate on Thursday before the first round of the masters.
“Players perform their best in competition when they engage the right side of their brain – this is where the athlete lives.”
10.Just play, enjoy the opportunity to compete and challenge yourself. expect some mistakes and deal with poor shots. Don’t make the tournament bigger than it is. Your identity and personal self-concept are not related to your golf score in the club championship. Smile and have fun!