In sports, as in life, when you feel good, good things just seem to happen.
If you feel good about your golf game then both your confidence and your scoring will improve.
In order to feel better about your game, then you have to be willing to change the way you think and approach the game.
Many players never play to their fullest potential because they only focus on the physical aspects of their game. The key is to understand the impact that our mental and emotional state has on the outcome of every round.
Feelings such as fear, frustration, disappointment, and even anger are common among many golfers. I have witnessed first hand as an instructor just how much of an affect these feelings can have on one's golf game. To improve your game I would like to suggest the following changes be made in the way you think and approach your game.
The first thing you have to change if you want more enjoyment from your game is your attitude. Having a more positive attitude will allow you to see that the glass is half full, rather than half empty. Unfortunately most golfers think mostly negative thoughts when they play. If you think more about where you do not want to hit the shot, versus where you do want to hit the shot, then you will never conquer this game. Good players have a positive mental attitude and never let negative thoughts ruin a good shot or a great round of golf. The next time you find yourself with a negative thought before a shot, remember to stop, step away from the shot and regroup. Only hit the shot if you have positive thoughts and confidence.
Next, learn to live in the present and not in the past. In order to play better golf you need to focus on what is in front of you, rather than what’s behind you. The way you played on the last hole or last weekend has little to no bearing on the shots you are about to hit right now. Many players are crippled on the first tee because all they can think about before they hit their drive is how poorly they hit that same shot the last time they played the hole. Instead focus in on where and how you want to hit that shot today!
Visualization is a critical component to playing better golf. It involves painting a positive picture in your mind of just how you see the shot before you hit it. Tour players stand behind their ball and do this before every shot that they make. Instead of thinking and seeing the ball land in the water before you hit it, visualize the ball flying high and landing on the putting surface when you play your next shot over water.
Thinking positive thoughts will lead to better shot making. Making negative comments before you hit shots will only lead to disaster. I have heard more golfers talk themselves out of a good shot by saying things like, “I never hit this fairway” or “I three putted this green the last two times I played it”. Remember the next time you catch yourself thinking negatively before a shot, stop. Change your thought process to a more positive outcome and learn to keep your thoughts to yourself. If you verbalize a negative thought then you are setting yourself up for failure!
To feel good before every shot, always look for 'tension' in your body. Tension can usually be found in your hands, arms or chest. To reduce tension in your hands, simply check your grip pressure and waggle the club a few times. If you feel the handle of the golf club, reduce your grip pressure until you start to feel the head of the club. If you feel tension in your arms, let your arms hang down more naturally, rather than reaching out for the ball. Tension in your chest usually results when you inhale and hold your breath before a shot. Remember to exhale just before you swing for tension-free shots.
Learn to take what the golf course gives you. The way you swing today, the weather, and the way you feel every time you play will be different. Remember that if you make a bad decision that leads to a poor shot, then simply smile, laugh it off and get on with your round.
Finally, dedicate yourself to improving the technical aspects of your game. Improving your overall game is a process that involves understanding both your strengths as well as your weaknesses. When you make the personal commitment to improving your game, both lower scores and your enjoyment for the game will result.
Next Week: Falling Into Golf