1. Forget about Score and Get In The Zone
Write your score down for each hole, but decide that it’s not going to matter today. All you’re going to focus on is each shot individually and see what they total up to at the end. When the best players in the world are “in the zone” and shooting rounds in the low 60s, they are usually surprised at how many birdies they made and what they shot, when they get to the scorers tent. Have the attitude of “one shot at a time” and see what they total at the end.
2. Change Your Attitude from Entitled to Grateful
No matter how well you’ve played recently – golf owes you nothing. You can’t expect to play well, that just doesn’t work. In golf, you need to lose control to get control. What I mean is, trying and expecting to play well creates pressure and we know what pressure does for your game. Just be grateful that you’re able to get out and play the game and enjoy everything about it.
3. Accept Bad Shots and Move On Quickly
It’s important to be your best friend out there and react well when you don’t hit shots exactly as you would like. When you beat yourself up over shots, you subconsciously become afraid of yourself, which creates game destroying tension. I.e. if you’re going to harshly criticize yourself then you put pressure on yourself not to hit those shots you don’t want. Pressure creates tensions which leads to more mistakes. During your next round, practice putting bad shots behind you as quickly as possible and maintaining a positive attitude.
I have the players I coach develop an attitude of acceptance before every shot and make it part of their routine, so it’s something that becomes automatic. The more accepting you are of bad shots, the more free you are on the golf course and the better you’ll play.
4. Play Relaxed Golf
Tension is the opposite of confidence. When you start hitting a few bad shots, the tendency is to start analyzing and correcting your swing – which you think is the problem. But tension is the likely cause. The more you lose confidence in your swing, the more tense your body becomes and more errant your shots. Trying to fix your swing on the golf course is counter-productive. The best thing you can do is try to relax and reduce tension in your body. There are many ways to do this, but the easiest way to get your swing back is to think about loosening your grip to about 75% (if you’re feeling pressure then it’s already a lot tighter than it should be).
5. Have a Good Course Strategy
This sounds simple, but try to focus on it. You probably waste a lot of shots each round because you just fire at the pin and ignore what your next shot would could look like if you miss. Play with a conservative aggressive strategy – pick conservative targets but swing aggressively at them.
6. Stick to Your Pre-shot Routine
Have a pre-shot routine that lasts about 20 seconds. Don’t allow any time for doubt, just focus on the sequence of your routine. If you want a KILLER pre-shot routine, I have a whole module dedicated to it in the Game Improvement System.
7. Pick Your Target
Before a golf shot, you’re probably thinking about many things - how good your swing feels, your score, thoughts about how you look etc. But the most important question you can ask yourself is “where is my target”? It’s that simple. It’ll help you remove all those extraneous negative thoughts. If you’re going to focus on anything, it’s has to be that. Make it a really small and precise one.
Photo by The Principal Charity Classic