By Bill Abrams, PGA Professional
As you all realize, golf is a very fickle and humbling game. Even the greatest players hit poor shots – it’s a fact of the game and life. How you react is a totally different subject.
First things first, a person basically cannot control their thoughts, only control how you react to them. Overreacting to a poor shot can and does cause more poor results. For instance, if you hit a shot too far, often times a player will hit the next one too short. This is overreacting to what just happened. We have all done more than we care to admit. I often hear players say “I’m not going to do that” opposed to “I plan to do that”. The difference here is huge framing your intent positively opposed to avoiding a certain malady.
By adding an effective pre and post shot routine to our game, we can become much better at how we control our reactions. By utilizing a few steps prior to a shot and a few post shot can and does offer a way to be consistent plus tames overreaction.
Prior to a shot, a simple process is all that is necessary. It must however be consistent. If you take a rehearsal swing, ALWAYS take a rehearsal swing that is at the speed you intend to hit the shot. Pick a target and commit to it. Pick ONE swing key and stick to it after you have addressed the golf ball. A good routine is more organization than anything else. We get into huge problems when our mind is wandering and lacks organization, ie 200 swing thoughts. Be focused on the few items we discussed and stick to it.
Post shot is something we can do to actually prepare for the next shot. A positive rehearsal swing after a poor shot can provide wonders for you. Instead of searching for what went wrong on the previous shot, focus your rehearsal swing on what you need to do to hit a good shot.
Something as simple as completing your backswing or sticking your finish are great examples. Negative outcomes will occur even on perfectly struck shots. Leave the last swing behind and focus on what you need to do with the next situation. Many of you White Sox fans remember the 2005 World Series. Orlando Hernandez aka El Duque got the team out of several jams in the middle innings. I had the pleasure of playing in a Pro Am at my club in Florida with him a few years ago. I asked him how long he focused on a poor pitch. His response “3 seconds max”. He went on to say “I turn my attention to the next pitch quickly”. This is a great lesson for all of playing golf as well.
All players have a shot that creates anxiety. Simply ask yourself – what shot scares me? Then ask yourself – why? Being honest with yourself will allow you to address this anxiety and cope with it. Try this next time you practice. Practice the shot that scares you. Often we will be predisposed to hitting a poor shot because we fear the outcome.
Let’s change the way you think to change your results. Yes it can be that simple. We certainly need to look at things from a different perspective to allow ourselves to play great golf when we have been struggling.
Please feel free to reach out to me for help with your game.
Enjoy the season and enjoy the experience of this great game.