Think your way round the golf course, be positive and confident with your decisions. Listen to those who’ve done it!! – By Paul
I played golf a couple of times last year with a good friend who plays off 4. He only plays a few rounds a year but still gets it round. Annoying hey!! We all know someone like this and some things he did and said helped me immensely.
I currently play off 8. Not a superb golfer, but not bad. Definitely not qualified to mentor, or coach anyone. Probably not even qualified to write this really, but I thought sharing my thoughts would be worthwhile and if it helps just one person then it’s worth it.
Over the past 16 months my mind has been occupied with more than golf. Busy with family and work I don’t have time for practise but aimed for a lower handicap.
For a few years now people have been telling me my swing is superb and single figures should be no issue. I can confirm however, that getting there was hard for me. A hook is a debilitating ‘bad shot’ and two of them in a round can easily mean 2 lost balls and 4 of your shots gone. So removing that along with a few other changes to my game has been important in getting below 10 and staying there. Below are some steps I have taken.
1 – Remove the terror shot
Removing my hook took a single lesson and a small change, and although it’s not gone altogether I know what causes it. This was the easiest step I made and a very important one. Lucky for me it was a simple fix, but most fundamental changes are. The rest of my changes could discuss grips, irons, shafts, drivers and putters, but they don’t come into it for me. In the past year I realised that I needed to change my whole mentality to replace the lack of practise in my game.
2 – Get going!
In the last 5 months I’ve had a plan to get my round going solidly, the first at our course is a long par 4 but there is trouble for long hitters – smashing it straight with the driver is rewarding, but 15 yards right or left of centre can stop you hitting the green in two even if you are only 140 away. Thus, I’ve eliminated all the trouble by only hitting 4 wood from the tee. Then I can decide whether to take it on or even laying up my second shot and bumping onto the green, accepting a 5 if I don’t make the putt but still trying to make par. Getting going early is important. I’ve got ways of playing other holes too, ways to eliminate trouble as best I can. I have those rules and stick to them.
3 – Forget about shot holes (or more importantly no shot holes)
Another mind-set change I have gone through is to forget about where I get my shots and start thinking about par on every hole. The lad mentioned above told me this one. Even if the first shot is bad, the next thought should only be ‘how do I make par from here?’. If it’s a terrible tee shot and I can’t make par then change that mindeset into making nothing worse than a bogey acceptable and hope for a birdie chance down the line somewhere.
3 – Stop chasing it!
Now, even if I have a bad patch I stayed calm, and trust that I am now good enough to make it up. Take todays round. I was 4 over gross through the first two holes. After finding two bunkers and a 3 putt. But I knew I had 3 par 5’s to come still so had chances of birdies. I finished the round 5 over gross and a happy boy. In years gone by I’d have written off those holes but my mind would just be hoping to break 30 points. Now I trust that pars will come.
To be honest I’ve not changed a lot. My clubs remain the same, I’ve still got a hook if I get ahead of it and I am sure a few lessons and some practise time could get me down quicker. But, in the last 4 months I’ve shot my best score ever, have only once shot over 80 and am positive it won’t be long until I hit a level par round again and really look forward to testing my game this coming season and seeing how far it can take me.
I wanted to get down to 6 this year, but recent weeks have made me re-think that. Why set that target? why not just enter a bunch of comps, keep the above thoughts in my head and see where I end up at the end of 2013.
Hell, maybe I’ll get the opportunity to see an expert this year, tweak some things like my driver shaft, possibly upgrade my now 6 year old Taylormade Combo irons and shave some more off my game. But right now, I’m loving the game, happy with my mind set and already cant wait to get on the course again.
Happy Golfing People…..