Getting Over Bad Shots In Golf

There Are NO Bad Shots In Golf

“I never learned anything from a match that I won.” ~ Bobby Jones

“It’s not what happens to you on the golf course that matters, it’s how you respond to what happens that will determine how good a player you become.” ~ Wise Arse Golfer

Getting over bad shots in golf

Your reaction to the outcome of shots can be a major obstacle in getting better. We all hit shots that we don’t intend. It’s part of the game. But to call a shot bad, you have to judge it as so, which will affect your mood. The way to get better is to get to a point where you don’t even acknowledge “bad” shots as bad – you quickly put them behind you and move on to the next. Dealing with bad shot is about acceptance and staying emotionally “neutral”.

As we discussed earlier, golf is a very difficult game. Not even the best players in the world can hit every shot how they would like. Responding poorly to shots by getting angry, even just a little, can affect your mood for the next shot, which can then snowball into further negativity and loss of focus.

The best thing we can do is give every shot our best intention and respond, not react. To play our best golf, we need a steady disposition: even the slightest bad reaction to a shot can make you tense and affect the next. It’s also important to remember that mistakes make you a better player. Don’t be afraid to fail. If you can learn from your mistakes, you can become a better player each time you play. Take positives from them and move on quickly.

Post shot routine techniques

Try these things in your post shot routine if you’re disappointed with a shot or bad hole:

Look up to the sky: the sheer magnitude of the open space above will quickly make you realize the insignificance of what just happened.

  • Try laughing! A good way to have bad shots roll off is to just laugh about it.
  • Strike up a conversation with your playing partners
  • Have a “go-to” subject you can take your mind after a shot you consider “bad”. This could be anything such as the number of trees you can spot, the number of birds you can hear, a favorite dish and thinking about the ingredients.
  • In your pre shot routine: Tell yourself “although I have a very positive intention for this shot, I will accept the result, good or bad and not have a negative reaction.”
  • Tiger Woods had a “ten pace” rule where after he hit a shot that he did not intend, he gave himself ten paces in which to get over it. Just making that decision to do this will help you.

As we’ve discovered, time is a precious commodity that we can’t recoup. If we make our happiness about how well we hit the golf ball, we are setting ourselves up for a less than fun experience, which is what every golf game should be about.

Photo by Keith Allison

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David MacKenzie

is a mental golf coach and lives in Washington DC. He is the founder of Golf State of Mind, a teaching program designed to help golfers condition their minds to overcome fear and play with confidence.

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