It’s not uncommon to start a round playing fairly well and then experience one poor shot that turns into a bad hole. Your goal when this happens should not be to figure out how to fix your swing. Unfortunately, that’s where most golfers’ thoughts go first. But if you’ve been hitting decent shots, a bad hole is not a sign that you’ve suddenly lost your swing. More likely it’s a sign that your golf mindset has changed and your swing is being negatively impacted by it.
The good news is that you can learn how to prevent one bad hole from multiplying by following three simple strategies to get your golf mindset back on track. But before I get into the solution, I want you to understand the source of the problem we’re working to solve.
Why Do Bad Holes Happen to Good People?
Have you ever asked yourself that question? After all, you work hard on your game, you take lessons, and you try to play well — so what’s missing? All the time and effort you invest in the physical side of your game won’t equip you to solve the problems that can occur in your mind when you play. You’ve got to learn to manage your thoughts and emotions so that you can create ones that allow you to play your best on a consistent basis.
Under most circumstances bad holes are the result of one (or more) of the following common mental game challenges ~
• Trying to make a good shot happen instead of completely trusting in your ability to execute it well
• Rushing your pre-shot routine and being unprepared to hit the shot
• Being distracted by other players
• Feeling pressure to perform for others when playing in a team event, or playing with golfers you believe are counting on you, or waiting for you to play well
• Chasing a score, whether you’re worried about a big number on a hole, trying to make up for a prior bad shot or hole, or thinking about what you need to beat an opponent
• Worrying about hitting a bad shot
• Choosing a club and shot because you believe it’s what you should hit, rather than the option you are most confident to hit
• Being uncertain about what’s going to come out of you next
Have you experienced some of these challenges in your game? The examples above illustrate a mindset shift in a bad direction that fuels emotions preventing you from playing at your best.
You may not realize how your thoughts are contributing to your poor shots. When the intensity of your thoughts and emotions about a poor shot increase it can cause you to produce another poor shot. Tension and pressure build, your grip gets tighter, you start trying harder, and you’ve completely lost your ability to swing with confident freedom.
3 Ways to Improve Your Ability to Bounce Back
If you’ve been struggling with strings of bad holes there’s a way to prevent them from happening — not by changing your swing, but by retraining your mind. To get you moving in the right direction, here are three strategies you can use to increase your self-awareness of when your golf mindset heads in the wrong direction and quickly get it back on track to avoid a ride on the bogey train.
1. Pay Attention to the Signs
There are many ways your mind and body send signals that indicate you aren’t ready to produce a good shot. If your mind is very busy rather than quiet, that’s a sign that you need to step away from your shot and refocus your attention on your target, letting all other thoughts go. If you have a death grip on your club, that’s a sign that your thoughts are producing tension in your body. If you are pushing, pulling, chunking or topping balls that’s a good indication that you’re trying to hit the ball when you want to focus on swinging through to your target ahead. These signals are valuable in that they alert you to a need to pause and redirect your attention to the things that help you swing freely before you hit a bad shot.
2. Focus on the Present
The more you focus on the score, driving future centered thoughts, the more a good score will allude you. The reason why is because you don’t have all your attention devoted to the present task. The same holds true if you are dwelling on the past. So be aware of the direction your thoughts are leading you — are you stuck in the past, are you worried about the future, or both? Redirect your attention by only thinking about where you want the ball to go next.
3. Confidently Rely on Your History
Every golfer I’ve ever worked with has had a tendency to retain more vivid memories of their disappointing shots than their successful ones. If you allow your thoughts to center on how many times one bad shot or hole has multiplied in a round and tanked your game then you’re well-versed in creating negative self-fulfilling prophecies. The more you focus on past bad outcomes the more likely you are to experience repeats of them in the present. Minimize recurring poor shots by thinking about memories of past success that you actually WANT to repeat. This will give you a well-needed kick of confidence after a miss and a reminder of what you can, and have done well in the past.
All three of these strategies will help you maintain a more consistent golf mindset, and provide you the awareness to know when you need to redirect your thoughts that are leading you and your game in a bad direction. To take a proactive approach to develop this part of your mental game I created a Free PDF worksheet – Improve Your Ability to Bounce Back After a Bad Hole – that you can download by CLICKING HERE.
Let me know in the comments below which of the three you think will help you the most.
Golfers who are committed to developing the mental side of their game find that there are fewer and fewer challenges they can’t overcome quickly in the midst of a round. If you’re interested in discovering how mental game training could dramatically lower your scores Book a Free 45-minute Consultation Call
And let me know what you’d like me to write about next month. I’m always looking for suggestions and would love hearing from you!
Until next time…PLAY GREAT!
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