October 2018 Newsletter
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The Mental Game of Golf
Having been at the club a good few years now I’m honoured to say quite a few of you have had coaching from me and I thank you for that.
I’m always a fan of taking golfers on the course for a lesson, after all that’s where you want to play your best and there are so many people that play great on the range, and not so good on the course.
There are quite a few regular things I see and one of them is the “Mental Approach” to there golf. There are lots of suggestions out there on how to be better mentally, break your golf up into 3 lots of 6 holes or how about 6 lots of 3 holes; set yourself targets for 2 holes at a time, one shot at a time is another we hear. The question I have is how many times have you started off playing good golf only to make silly errors on the next few holes and ruin your round? It could be you hit that one shot you fear and start trying to fix your swing so it doesn’t happen again, it could just be nerves or pure pressure and this is where it all starts to go wrong. The answer is you need to practice your mental side of the game as well as your swing. Below are a few of my tips to help you with this.
1) Pre-Shot Routine (a must for consistent golf)
Rory McIlroy won the Open Championships in 2014 and during the interviews afterwards he mentioned two things he focused on, The Process and The Spot!
The “Process” or how we will put it, Pre-Shot Routine, was vital to his success that week after what had been a challenging time to him. Your own personal pre-shot routine can be anything you want it to be but you need to work on it until it becomes totally natural, just like making a cuppa or driving a car, you don’t think about it you just do it. The biggest problem golfers have is having time to think and that’s when that word “Fear” pops in. Can I hit this shot, what about that duff on the last hole, ahh my swing feels bad!!! By having a pre-shot routine it will help with that fear factor, the mind is occupied and those bad thoughts cannot enter.
2) The Ball
Now that you have a great pre-shot routine you only have to hit the ball right? Oh wait a second what are you actually looking at when you swing that club? The majority of people will say “I don’t really know” or “Just the ball” how about looking at just one spot on that ball, a marker pen dot or maybe just a dimple. If you focus on just hitting that dot with your now clear mind your consistency will improve.
3) Between Shots
We need to distract ourselves between shots. Never talk / think about previous holes, there is nothing you can do about them and it may put negative thoughts in your mind. Likewise never think about holes later in the round, I’ve had golfers say to me “It’s ok, there’s a par 5 coming up, I’ll make that dropped shot up there” If you don’t want to chat with your playing partners look at the trees, look at the sky, hum a tune as you walk, all of this will not give you time to think about the next play.
4) Safety Club / Your Go-To Shot
Everyone has a favourite club and hopefully you hit the same shape with it every time, there is bound to be a time when you are in trouble on the course so this is the time to hit that club. Let me explain more, going back to my amateur days I played some very tough golf courses, very tight fairways and lots of trouble both sides, on every occasion I hit my 4iron because I knew I could hit it well, I knew I could shape it a little left to right, I knew it would be around the 200yd mark and I knew it would leave me a longer shot into the green but I knew it would be from the fairway. If you’ve had a couple of bad holes this is a great way to build your confidence back up, It doesn’t matter if your safety club is an 8iron, 6iron, 4iron or rescue club, its whatever gives you confidence and has reasonable distance and accuracy. It’s also a great club to hit for second shots on par 5’s.
5) Pre-Round Plan
Have you ever mapped your way around the course before you’ve even stepped onto the first tee, most amateurs do not even think about it.