Taking your game to the Golf Course and/or
Playing Better in Tournaments
Have you ever had the experience of hitting the ball long and straight on the driving range only to have your game seemingly disappear before you could get to the first tee? Maybe you play well with your friends and then struggle when you enter a tournament. If there is a marked difference between your practice and play, or how you perform in tournaments, you will need to change the way you are practicing so you can improve your focus on the golf course. It has been my experience; very few golfers hit the ball as well on the golf course as they do on the driving range. Let’s put a stop to that!
There is an old saying. On the golf course, you should play golf, not golf swing. The biggest reason golfers have a tough time taking their games from the driving range to the golf course is they only practice their golf swing on the driving range and never get around to practicing golf. When they get to the golf course, the added pressures of having one ball instead of eighty, the numerous water hazards and/or trees and several other self-imposed pressures can quickly expose a golfer’s lack of preparation. All golfers get nervous, see the water hazards and can have negative thoughts. The golfers who perform close to their capabilities on a regular basis simply have the ability to deal with these distractions a little more efficiently. To perform at your best on the golf course and especially in tournaments, you will need to practice the techniques necessary to handle the distractions encountered on the course as much as you practice your swing. It is important to realize that developing mental skills is every bit as important as working on your swing motion. Golfers who have good mental skills and good short games are the ones who perform the most consistently. Here are some steps you can take to improve your mental skills and bring your play on the golf course closer to your performance on the practice tee.
Step #1 – Develop a Pre-Shot Routine
Every good player has a series of steps they go through as they prepare to play EVERY golf shot. The routine will ensure that your set up position is correct every time and will also occupy your mind so negative thoughts can be avoided. If you don’t already have a reliable pre-shot routine, I suggest you ask a CPGA Professional to help you develop one. I will detail the two parts of a good routine in future posts.
Step #2 – Start to Practice GOLF on the Driving Range.
Instead of bashing ball after ball with the same club at the same target, rarely even moving your feet. Start practising what you will need on the golf course. For each ball, pick a very specific target, go through your pre-shot routine and hit your shot. After each ball or two, switch golf clubs, pick a different target, go through your pre-shot routine and hit the shot. Some people who can’t get out and play as often as they like will “play” a round of golf at the driving range by simulating a round at their normal golf course. For example, they will hit the club they would normally hit of the first tee, based on how that shot went they would then pick the club they feel would be needed next and so on. Of course, using a pre-shot routine on every shot!! The key is, by changing clubs and targets often you are preparing for the pressures you will face on the course and you are training your brain to work towards a target and not dwell on body movements or swing mechanics.
I am not suggesting you should not practice swing drills or focus on your swing mechanics to improve the quality of your swing motion. What I am suggesting is by practicing these techniques and getting good at focusing on your target, you will give yourself the best chance to perform up to your capabilities. The combination of improving your swing AND improving your mental skills will most quickly lower your scores and increase your enjoyment of the game.
Tell me about your on-course or tournament experiences and how you are trying to play up to your potential when you really want to. Good luck with your golf!