Whether you are playing in your weekend fourball or for a spot in the Tour Championship, mental lapses can be very costly and we need to continually work to eliminate them if we want to improve. Missing short putts can be a really easy way to throw away shots.
Brandt Snedeker demonstrated to us last weekend, how failure to stay in the present moment and thinking about the consequence of a shot, can have a devastating effect. Needing just two putts from about 15ft to secure a spot in the Tour Championship, where 30 players will compete for a first prize of $10mn, Snedeker lost concentration on the present moment and started to think about what those putts would mean for him in the future. This had nothing to do with the physical game. Under normal circumstances he would have 1 or 2 putted 99.9% of the time. But on this occasion he 4 putted.
He said afterwards, “I just started thinking about the wrong things, I didn’t concentrate over the bogey putt. I was thinking about all the things THE TOUR Championship comes with and I did everything you’re not supposed to do…I should have just gone about my merry way and try to make par…That shows you what I need to work on. It’s just kind of one of those things where it’s all mental, 100 percent mental. It’s nothing physical, it’s 100 percent mental. So we’ll work on it and hopefully be stronger next year.”
Snedeker’s mental game mistakes cost him dearly, but I’ve no doubt he will learn from it and work with his sports psychologist to prevent it from happening again. But us weekend golfers should take something from it too. One of the key components of a good golf game is the ability to stay in the present moment. Any thoughts about the past or the future dilute the potency of your positive focus on what you are doing in the present and you will not do it to your best. This is something we can work on every time we play and practice.