There are two different approaches you can take in pursuit of better scores, but only one that will actually work. Golf success comes from freedom, not force.
Playing better doesn’t mean trying harder.
In order to achieve more consistency in your rounds you need to play with more trust because trust will allow you to swing with more freedom. And when you swing with more freedom you execute more technically solid shots.
Too often golfers think the right course of action is to put in more effort, to “press” during a round and try to make good shots happen. If this is your approach, then you’re just getting in your own way.
I was chatting with a client this morning about this very topic. As he described his last tournament round he referenced “trying to make birdie putts” and “pressing for eagle chips” because he wanted to make up some lost strokes from prior holes. It was evident that his focus was wrapped up in the past and the future, when he needed to thinking only about the shot in the present.
Any time your focus is split in two or more directions rather than selectively locked onto the task at hand and your next target it’s impossible to give 100% to your shot. Why? Because you need 100% of your focus on your shot to hit a 100% quality shot. Makes sense, right?You need 100% of your focus on your next golf shot to hit a 100% quality shot. #playgreatgolf #golftips #golfswing Click To Tweet
Because my client was trying to force good things to happen he was likely carrying a lot of extra tension in addition to the adrenalin we typically have to deal with when playing under pressure. Mental tension leads to physical tension which can cause pushes, pulls, chunks, tops, and alterations in swing tempo and technique. It can also leave you questioning your mechanics which is the opposite of playing with trust and freedom.
To play with freedom there are three simple things you need to consistently pay attention to ~
1. You must keep your thoughts focused on the present.
Be aware of the times when you allow your thoughts to venture to the outcomes in the future. Even if you start thinking about what you could make on the hole you’re still playing, or considering that you’re facing a putt where you could still save par your thoughts are on the future. In the same way, avoid considering how to make up for past shots that didn’t go so well and added to your scorecard. By freeing your mind of thoughts around the past or the future you will free your swing.
2. You must play to a specific (and desired) target.
It can be easy to get distracted by where you don’t want the ball to go, or the disappointing shots from the past. As you begin thinking about your next shot you must limit your thoughts to the target you actually want to hit and no other possible outcome. By planning for one target it’s much easier for you to mentally lock onto and swing to that one target than if you are playing to avoid other undesirable ones. By freeing your mind of additional targets, desirable or not, you will free your swing.
3. You must play with a belief in your ability to execute the shot you want to hit.
A plan is not a good plan if you doubt in your ability to execute it. Don’t waste time on shot plans that you can’t approach with 100% confidence. There are always options that could advance the ball, so pick the one you know you can hit. By freeing your mind of self-doubt you will free your swing.
Before you can effectively manage the mind game of golf, you must be aware of your mental habits. I encourage you to start looking for ways to play with more freedom by creating habits around the three guidelines above. When you learn how to free your mind of unnecessary clutter you unlock your ability to more consistently swing with freedom and hit better shots.
Leave me a comment below and let me know which of the three guidelines above you think you need to be more mindful of in your rounds.
Until next time…PLAY GREAT!