Golf Mental Game, Senior Moments Attack Younger Golfers Too
Oy, sometimes my golf mental game suffers enormously. Lets see, today on the first tee the ball takes off down the right side of the fairway. Humm, I thought I was aiming left a little bit, but there is a lake over there so perhaps I shied away. No, that is not it. The divot I had picked for my setup aiming target is close to another divot that is further right. I had picked the one on the left when I was behind the ball, then when I set up I lined up on the one to the right. Doah!
Twice today I had an uninvited audience… and proceeded to duff the ball, trying to hit it too aggressively and of course hitting the shot fat with the subsequent loss of distance to show for it. Why? The dear sweet little cart girl had to drive right up to my cart and when I declined to order anything she kindly turned off her cart and sat there until I made my shot. Of course, I had to make it worth her while by showing my superior prowess as a
professional duffer. Good grief, relax and hit the thing, how hard is it to hit a 9 iron?
Then there was my famous sand save… not! I set up correctly for a 40 yard shot out of the bunker. It has been raining for 3 days solid, to say things are wet is an understatement. Instead of knifing into the sand, my swing kind of bounced and collided with the ball causing me to airmail the ball over the green. I am sure you never did anything like that huh?
Just to make sure that I didn’t let a bad shot go to waste, I made a great decision to slow my down-swing going into deep rough to make sure I wouldn’t hit the ball too far. I was correct, I didn’t hit the ball too far, I got 5 feet of air and zero feet of roll and its still buried in the grass. It is now time to do it again, except this time I really do need to have a gentile shot because the down-hill pin is very close to this edge. It is hard choices time, but by gosh I’m getting out of this rough! Yea! I’m out and 30 feet past the pin. I did manage a two putt coming back.
Lets see, this is a 430 yard hole, I am in the green-side bunker in two shots. It only took me 5 more to get it in the hole.
I say this to point out that golf is not all sweetness and light. I wish it were, and that every day I could go out and shoot under 80. In my defense I have the excuse that I have not played much this year, but most of my mistakes are not mechanical; they are mental.
In addition, I chose to ride today and forgot that it was “cart path only.” This is the worst way to play golf!
Your mental game focus becomes distracted. Instead of walking down the fairway looking at your ball you are driving down the wiggly path hoping to spot your ball. When you come up parallel with it you jump out and grab the club you think you need. Now you actually walk over to your ball which you are approaching from the side instead of the rear. When you get there you may be unpleasantly surprised to find that you do not have the right club to get you out of the rough or what ever. Are you going to make the 60 yard each way trek to get the right club or simply go with what you brought?
Now you make a hasty walk around behind the ball pick out a target, guessing as to yardage (the GPS is on the cart). Next you step up to the ball, go through your routine and make your swing. You may or may not be pleased with the results. If you brought the wrong club you will definitely not be happy.
What is missing?
The whole mental focus on your target that you would have been developing as you made that 100 to 200 yard walk approaching your ball from behind This assessment process just goes along naturally as you walk up to your ball from behind. You are taking in the factors, wind, lay of the land, is it up or down hill, sand or water near the target area and of course the club you are going to use to get there. Basically, the only thing you do not know is the actual lie of the ball, it can be good or bad in the rough.
This is so much more focused than a hasty rush over from the cart path. Your whole orientation has been the target for the last 3 to 5 minutes. The actual swing is just a natural culmination to that process.
No one is immune from from the kinds of challenges to a game of golf that I’ve described. Young or old this happens to us all, it is called lack of focus. The way to avoid this is to learn how to take your turn at making your shot, by gently calling yourself into concentrated attention to your task for the time you are executing it. On those days when you are having difficulty keeping focused on the golf course the thing to try to focus on is the actual time you are taking the shot. This is why you need to have a pre-shot routine developed. If you already have a ritual that you perform for every shot then this will keep you from mentally wandering off when you need to be focused on making the best golf shot you can make.
Until next time hit them straight and seldom,
Would you like to develop an autopilot setup routine and discover how to eliminate some of those pesky distractions that affect your game? Sign up for my 8 part “Golf Mental Strategies” email series.