There are valuable lessons that can be gleaned from watching Tour events like the recent Ryder Cup, which you can use to enhance your golf game. Match play is a great format for developing your mental game because it’s essentially a series of mini-matches, one hole at a time. Unfortunately, many golfers experience unnecessary pressure during match play simply by focusing on the wrong things. To avoid succumbing to the typical distractions that can creep in and wreak havoc during match play, here are 3 rules to help you keep your head in the game –
Understand Your Competition
Your perception of your circumstances has a great impact on your performance, so it’s important to compete against the right opponent. In match and stroke play, your competition should always be (1) the course, and (2) improving on your last best performance, stroke by stroke. To focus on what another is player is or isn’t doing at any point will shift your attention and energy away from the factors necessary for success. As Jack Nicklaus instructed, you are playing your own ball, so only focus on what YOU can do.
Stick to the Task at Hand
It’s important to keep your focus on the moment. Once a shot is played, it’s over, and it’s time to focus on the next opportunity that lies before you. There’s no making up in golf, so you’ve got to learn to leave the past behind you. Choose to play within your game, attending to one shot at a time. Your goal must be to hit one great shot after another and win the hole. Then move to the next hole and repeat the process.
Never Let Them See You Sweat
Golfers often have no idea that their body language reflects exactly what they are feeling inside. If you find yourself down a hole or two, don’t give your opponent more of an advantage by letting him know you are less than thrilled with your performance. The best way to maintain a winner’s attitude is to continually identify the strengths worth repeating from every shot, even the complete miss hits. There is value in every shot, and actively extracting that value from each shot will keep your thoughts centered around your strengths, rather than choosing to get bogged down thinking about your weaknesses. Learning to apply these basic guidelines to your match play events will assist you in playing smarter, freeing your talent and increasing your enjoyment of the game.
To find out more about the mental game private sessions and golf schools I offer at Tiburon, please contact me today at 239.431.6810. I look forward to teaching you how to PLAY GREAT!