How many times have you started with a disastrous first hole and it ruined the rest of your round? Or you’re scoring nicely and all of a sudden you lose concentration for a split second and make a double bogey or worse? It can happen to all of us, but the key to become a better player is learning how to “bounce back” from these shockers and develop the mental toughness to get the round back on track.
The PGA Tour keeps track of these stats and the average “bounce back” is about 25%, that is, 25% of players score a birdie or better on the hole after a bogey or worse. This is a significantly better than you’re average amateur who will more than likely continue a bad run for at least a few holes. PGA Tour players know how techniques to quickly put bad shots and holes behind them. Here’s a few of those those techniques:
1. Don’t try miraculous recovery shots to make up for your bad shot – this will more than likely snowball and lead to a bigger number and more frustration.
2. Don’t start analyzing your swing – focusing on what went wrong with the last swing takes away from focus on the shot you want to hit and the target and will lead to more problems.
3. Be your best friend or “”Inner Caddy” – pick yourself up by thinking about what your best friend would say to you in those situations. This would be something like “You can’t do anything about that shot/hole, just stick to your routine, play conservatively and you’ll start playing well again.”
4. Separate your scores from your ego – think of the world’s top players who have had disastrous holes (some as bad as a 12). They did not let those scores define them and quickly moved on.
5. Have an escape from the game – there are many ways to do this but come up with a place you can go in your head when you feel like you’re getting overwhelmed. Examples are: Looking up into the sky, thinking about family, trying to name different types of tree you can see or birds you can hear – whatever it is, it will help calm you down.
6. Learn how to breathe – try deep belly breathing to get rid of negative energy and calm you down.
7. Keep sticking to your process and Shot Routine to get you back in the comfort zone.
8. Think of golf as a mental challenge that will be extremely rewarding to overcome. When you’ve just made a double bogey, think about the positive you can take from just hitting the fairway on the next hole (play conservatively and get yourself back in the game).
9. Accept that we all hit bad shots and it’s our reaction to them that will determine how well we play.
10. Re-frame your attitude - try to recall good shots you’ve hit on that hole or any quality shots you’ve hit recently.
11. Stay in the present – understand that your best golf is played when you are solely focused on the shot at hand. Not the last shot or thinking about what your score will look like if you birdie the upcoming hole.