Manage Your Game

Think Better, Score Better

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Ideally you shouldn’t “think” about anything when you swing. I suggest you “picture” or “visualize” or “imagine” your target, but most golfers have a hard time doing that.

Don’t use technical swing thoughts like, “my right elbow should point down at the top of my swing.” This disrupts your flow and disconnects you from your target. If you have trouble picturing your target, use swing thoughts that focus on tempo, balance or finish. Keep your thoughts simple and tailor them so you can swing through the ball.

Golf is one of the few sports you can watch on television and imagine hitting the same shots pros do. You might not hit it as far or as consistently as they do, but you’ve had to get up and down to salvage a par to beat your buddy.

Watching the best in the world can benefit your game if you focus on a few key areas.

First, observe their swing tempo. Yes they hit it a mile, but they look smooth and in control while they’re doing it. The average player hits it shorter but with more effort and swings out of balance.

Second, study how pros play around the green. As talented as they are, they still keep it simple. For example, pros treat chip shots like putts. They read the slope of the green and plan for the break. They pick an intermediate target where they want to land the ball, and then they visualize the ball rolling into the cup. Their chipping motion has very little body motion allowing them to be consistent on these short shots.

Third, watch their routines. It might seem as though they take forever to hit a shot, but they stick to a routine in which they make a decision, set up and fire away. Most average players just guess and rush their shots. Take an extra five seconds to think before you hit it, and you’ll notice a huge difference.

Most golfers feel a little nervous on the first tee. After all, the first-tee shot (rightly or wrongly) often sets the tone for the entire round.

If you’ve been playing well recently, then you may be excited that you’ll put together a great round. If you’ve been playing poorly, you might fear a bad round. The key is to not feel too much pressure on your first shot. If you stripe it down the middle or cold-top it, your first shot doesn’t determine whether you’ll shoot 80 or 100. What determines your success is your ability to shift your focus from a bunch of “what ifs” to what is in your control. Stay focused. Play to your strengths, eliminate your expectations of what you think you’ll shoot and develop a plan for the first hole.

With first-tee jitters usually comes a feeling of discomfort. Change that through proper breathing and a solid preshot routine. If it makes you feel more confident, hit a club (3-wood or even a hybrid) that’ll have you playing your second shot from the fairway.

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