Manage Your Game
Think Better, Score Better
Playing a hole you hate can send your scores soaring. You might hate a certain hole because it doesn’t set up to your eye or because it challenges your weaknesses. Don’t worry, because you have options:
• Play a different shot. For example hit a 3-wood off the tee instead of your driver.
• Remember a similar type of hole you’ve played well to boost your confidence.
• Use visualization to focus on what you want to do instead of fearing what you don’t want to do.
VERBALIZE YOUR SHOT
A common technique used by Tour professionals during their preshot routine is visualization. By imagining their shot’s shape, they see a clear picture of the shot they intend to play. This “mental rehearsal” promotes focused, confident decisions—and that leads to good shots.
Unfortunately many amateur golfers have a hard time pulling this off. While some see where they want the ball to end up, they don’t see the path of the entire shot. If this sounds like you, or if you have trouble visualizing your shot, then verbally describe the shot you want to hit. For instance, tell yourself, “I’m hitting the driver toward that palm tree with a 10-yard draw, and it will roll past the bunker on the left.” Saying it out loud will help you create pictures and clarify the shot shape. Another benefit is that it places your focus on what you want to do, not what you don’t want to do.
HOW TO BUILD A PREROUND ROUTINE
During the time you prepare to hit a shot, a hemispheric shift should take place in your brain. From the analytical left side (measuring your shot, accounting for the wind), to the creative right side (visualizing your shot).
The goal of a preround routine is to get your body warmed up, your mind focused and your swing ready to go.
Here are a few quick ways to get ready before your next round:
• Do light stretches for five minutes that concentrate on the lower back, hamstrings, hips and shoulders.
• Take at least 10 minutes to hit about 25 balls on the range. Start with a sand wedge and make some half swings, then progress through your set, skipping a couple clubs each time. Finish by hitting a few drivers. Use this time to develop your rhythm and balance for the day. When you hit the last three balls, go through your preshot routine to get your mind focused on targets instead of swing mechanics.
• Next, give yourself five minutes to practice putting on the practice green to develop speed control. The last few putts should be from four to six feet so you can feel confident standing over some short ones.
• Finally, go to the first tee with a positive attitude. Don’t fixate on your score, but rather stay committed and focused on every shot. This will minimize pressure and get you focused on what’s in your control. Then go have fun.
HOW TO BOUNCE BACK AFTER A BAD HOLE
The definition of mental toughness is the ability to handle adversity, and nothing puts your toughness to the test more than blowing up on a hole. Golf can be frustrating when a shot result (or a bad hole) doesn’t match our expectations.
The first thing you need to know is that all golfers hit poor shots and get bad breaks. How you react to these situations says a lot about your character.
Here are some tips on how to bounce back from a bad hole:
• Put the shot into perspective—it’s just a golf shot.
• Use whatever frustration you feel to refocus on the next shot.
• Remember the rounds when you hit poor shots and had bad holes, but still scored well.
• Shift your focus from outcome to process, and to what’s in your control (namely the next shot).
• Become aware of excess tension that creeps in when you get frustrated or angry. Take some breaths and begin to walk a little slower to relax yourself.
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