Is This A Game . . . Or What?
By Terry Koehler, The Wedge Guy
Terry Koehler has been in the golf industry for over 30 years and currently spends his days as the President of EIDOLON Golf, a small premium wedge company in Victoria, Texas. He's been blogging for over 3 years and has written hundreds of articles ranging from golf tips to equipment issues. His blog will appear on ClubSG twice per week. You can reach Terry to have your golf questions answered at email@example.com.
I don't think anyone goes to the golf course without at least wanting to play to their potential, whatever that might be. Whether you are a tour professional, doing this for a living, or a casual weekend player who just wants to have fun, playing to your perceived potential just makes it all the must more enjoyable to be out there, doesn't it? This topic was stimulated by a question from Mike M., who asked:
I want so badly to play well. I practice a lot and read about the mental game, but when I go to the course, I just can't pull it off and hit the shots I do on the range. What can I do to take my range swing to the course and play to my potential?Well, Mike, welcome to golf the way everyone plays it. There is not a player on earth, from the best tour pros on down, who hits it as well on the course as on the range. If you’ve ever been to a PGA Tour event and spent time on the range, you wonder how these guys ever miss a fairway or green. But it is said that the longest distance in golf is that from the range to the first tee. And there’s a lot of truth to that. On the range we are totally immersed in the swing and our mechanics, repeating the moves we are learning or have learned. Sure, there’s a target line we are aware of, but there is no penalty for missing it. And the fact that we are setting up the same way, ball after ball, does eliminate part of the process.
But the real culprit is what we call “pressure”. It might be a large wager, trying to impress your friends, or simply playing to what you perceive as your potential, but there is pressure when you are on the course. Bad shots have a penalty and good ones a reward. And the goal of all the mental coaches and trainers in golf is to figure out how to help each one of us deal with it the best way we can. And it sounds to me like you are putting a lot of pressure on yourself to perform. Lighten up!!!!
The funny thing about pressure is that it affects each of us differently. I have golf buddies who will play their best when the bets get right, but can’t get all that interested until they do. There are others that, if they stop to think about how much is riding on this hole or that shot, can’t execute to their best level.
Everyone has to find their own way to keep their “game face” on and perform to their best ability. But here are a few of my tips that might help.
1. Get small. If you find yourself thinking about how you’re scoring, or the size of the bet on the line or anything outside the shot at hand, “get small”. Rein in your thoughts to focus only on the exact shot you want to hit. Recall shots just like it that you’ve pulled off in the past, and the simple swing thoughts that were in your mind when you were hitting it well recently. There is really no such thing as a round of golf, it’s just one isolated swing event after another. Each one really has nothing to do with the one before or after. Stay small and get out of the moment if you need to.So, Mike, I hope those tips help you relax and have more fun on the course. And if you guys have any other tips or ideas for Mike, chime and share them, OK?
* The Wedge Guy's views and opinions are his own do not necessarily reflect those of SkyGolf.
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