One Shot At A Time

Why are you so score focused?

In an ideal world, you wouldn’t know what your score was during a round until after the last putt was rolled in on the 18th green. I’m sure you’d agree with me on that. Most golfers would play much better if they had no memory of what their score was, or if they didn’t try to predict what score they will have at the end of the round. In other words, the focus is on “one shot at a time”.

One Shot At A Time

Not focusing on one shot at a time becomes harder the more important the round is. However, with good mental coaching for golf, it’s possible to learn how to become less score-focused, so you can more consistently play to your full potential.

The most common mental mistake that golfers make

The most common mental mistake that golfers make is not being able to detach themselves from their score. Most golfers are adding up their score along the way and judging how good their game is based upon these numbers. If they’re scoring higher than usual, it means (in their head) that they aren’t playing well, and if they are scoring better than usual, their game is on the up…but then, of course, it becomes a case of “if I can continue playing this well, I’m going to shoot a great score!” And then the pressure of “shooting a great score” gets to them and they fall back to their normal level.

Why focus on score at all?

So why focus on score at all? Of course we need a measure of where our games are, what we need to improve and where we are in relation to where we want to go. In this sense, score is a good thing to think about – we need to be honest with ourselves and figure out what we need to do to get better.

Golf is an exercise in staying present

But on the course, it’s an exercise in staying present. Simply put, the more present you can stay the better. Unless there’s a real need to know your score for strategy purposes (like having a 3 shot lead coming down the last hole of a tournament), thinking about score is NOT going to help you. Why should how you played the last hole have any impact on how well you play the next? We need to stop being so obsessed with the outcome, and give the shot in front of us 100% of our mental energy. One Shot At A Time. Our minds are at they their quietest and most focused when they are focusing on the present moment. Thoughts about the past and (especially) the future while on the course, will result in performance anxiety (tension, increased heart rate, loss of focus etc) and higher scores.

How can we reduce focus on score?

1. Be more process focused

My mental game scorecard is more important (while you’re on the course anyway), than your actual scorecard. Learn how to stay more focused on the process rather than the outcome. Download it by clicking here.

2. Practice meditation/mindfulness

If you can get better at being present during “the time in between”, this is going to help enormously. Training with meditation will help you achieve this.

3. Be more accepting of negative outcomes

Try improving your responses to bad shots instead of reacting.

4. Improve awareness

Simply being aware that this is something that is not going to help you is a good place to start. Notice when you are thinking about your score and try to bring yourself back to the present. Avoid adding up the numbers!

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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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