Golf is a unique sport, where EVERY shot counts. Perhaps that’s what makes it so fascinating to us, in our pursuit to improve? When you think about it, that first tee shot is just as important as that final putt. That 200 yard drive (I’m being realistic here), is the same value as a tap in putt. Even from 1 inch away, it still counts as one stroke.
So why do we start to feel more pressure? Particularly towards the end of the round than we did at the 2nd or 3rd hole? I’ve heard many people say after a bogey or double-bogey early in the round, ’Oh well, plenty of holes to go yet’! However, if you had turned those holes into pars or just a bogey… perhaps you wouldn’t put pressure on yourself to have to birdie the last hole!
Do we take as much care and give the shot the attention it deserves? Particularly when we have a good score going and just need a decent finish on the 18th? So many times, I am sure you’ve witnessed, the nerves taking over the golf swing. For those old enough to remember The Open in 1970, think about this. Doug Sanders had a relatively short putt to win the Championship, but what happened? The ball missed the hole and he ended up in a play off (which he eventually lost). Clearly Sanders had putted well for the previous 71 holes to put himself in the position he found himself in.
So whether you are playing in a Major Championship or a club competition. A weekend swindle or a friendly four-ball. How much better would it be if you could control those nerves and treat every shot the same? This calls for a solid, workable routine, that you must develop and practise. Yes, thoughts will come into your head, and your mind will race forward. Doubtless, in your head you will have already buried the putt! But a routine will soon put those thoughts into the correct place until it has become a reality.
Every time you practise, ensure your practise has a ‘consequence’. Hitting 80 balls on the range may develop your swing (or make permanent your faults! Yes, if you practise the wrong thing enough, you will become REALLY good at doing that wrong thing)! On the range, hit targets with different clubs, changing on every shot. Clearly you don’t play golf by using the driver 30 times in a row.
Take just one ball onto the putting green and play from every angle. Again, you don’t get the opportunity on the course to hit four putts on the same line. What I’m saying here is make your practise meaningful and with consequence. Smashing balls on a range or hitting the same putt on a practise green is fruitless! It is so far removed from what you are faced with on the course, so why would you practise that?
Finally a huge congratulations this month to Bentley Golf Club member and Mindzone advocate, Gary Rose who aced the 17th. I recall the first time Gary attended a Mind Zone session. One of his first sentences to me was ‘I can’t chip’… well if you keep holing out, Gary, you won’t need to chip!
Who knows, the next time you play golf, is it POSSIBLE that you could get a hole in one? I ALWAYS think that way.
Until next month, I wish you the best of golfing!