When something unexpected happens, like hitting a bad shot or experiencing a bad break, how do you react?
• Do you feel frustrated or embarrassed?
• Do you try to figure out what you did wrong?
• Do you start playing it safe to avoid messing up on the next hole?
If this sounds like you then you’re allowing your perspective to be shaped by your circumstances. Golf is challenging enough without letting your perspective get bent out of shape just because things don’t always go as planned. To play great, you’ve got to learn how to think great, because every shot begins in your mind. This means taking control of your thoughts, rather than playing based on how you feel moment by moment.
Inviting negativity into your round will only make a minor issue worse. Negativity can make swing glitches more pronounced by producing mental clutter and physical tension.
No one ever plays a flaw-free round, not even professional golfers. Are you setting the bar too high?
While you can’t control the outcome of every shot, you can control how you respond. And there are three rules you must play by to prevent your perspective from killing your score.
Rule #1 - Assess your performance with a scholar’s point of view
If you’re like most golfers, your default response to a poor shot is probably critical rather than constructive. That doesn’t mean you can’t train yourself to make a more objective assessment of your shot. The key is to evaluate the quality of your approach to the shot instead of just the outcome. Focus on what you did right instead of second-guessing your mechanics. The more you track your successes the more you can build on those successes.
Rule #2 - Remember that there are many ways to play a hole well
I’ve been on the course with clients who will get very flustered after hitting an errant drive, even when their ball is still in play. Do you have a tendency to throw in the towel on a hole after one bad shot? The more positively you approach every shot until you finish the hole the higher the probability that you will end up with the same number of strokes as you’d wanted. The key is to never give up.
Rule #3 - Manage the parts of the game that you can control
As I mentioned above, you can’t control shot outcomes, but there is still a lot you can control that will help you score. You can maintain a good attitude throughout your round. You can direct your attention to your desired target rather than a hazard. You can make your practice swing a real rehearsal of the shot you want to hit. You can step into every shot with confidence. The key is to maintain good control over the parts of the game you can influence making it much easier to bring your best to every round.
The next time you hit a poor shot or post a big number on a hole remember these three rules to help you keep your perspective in check. Golf is not an easy game but that doesn’t mean you can’t excel at it. You just need to train yourself to play with the right perspective. By doing so, the normal challenges you’ll face in every round won’t derail your game.
The best golfers train themselves to think great in response to every challenge. They set their minds to focus on opportunities, solutions, and past successes in order to neutralize any negativity, and so can you. Making great thinking a habit will transform your perspective, your game, and your score.