Editor’s Note: This piece has been updated slightly with a new title, “How To Play Fearless Golf,” and a more readable format.
Fear is one of golf’s biggest bugaboos, but armed with the following tips from PGA Instructor David Woods and mental game coach Rick Sessinghaus, you can nip those butterflies in the bud. Here’s how to play fearless golf.
SCARY TEE SHOTS
Don’t Forget To Turn
Fear can be a great detriment not only to the mind, but also to how the body performs. Often, when we get fearful, the bigger muscles in the body shut down and the smaller muscles try to take over. In the case of a tee shot like this, that's exactly what you don't want. The key when getting fearful and nervous is to always remember that better shots are achieved when the body rotates down and through. If you get fearful and stop turning, the hands will take over and flip through the shot. Now, you may get away with that sometimes, but it's not a good way to maintain any sense of consistency. Remember to always turn and hit down into the golf ball. And don't be afraid to make a divot!
Don’t Be Scared!
Hey, most course architects are on your side, right? As diabolical as some may be, often there's a bail-out area somewhere on a difficult hole. In the case of the above par-3 at The Vintage Club in Indian Wells, Calif., Tom Fazio left some room to the left for players who just don't have the gusto to clear the water to a difficult green. Now, here's the rub. Not every shot needs to be a hero shot. If you're uncomfortable for whatever reason, don't force a shot that just doesn't feel right. Bail out and get up and down. It's a lot easier to play it safe than forcing a shot you're not comfortable with.