Wednesday, April 27, 2011

The Good, the Bad...the Ugly!

How many times have you had a great front nine score and then turn around and play terrible on the back?  Or, you hit a great shot and then hit the next one like you have never played golf?  We have all done this from time to time and it can be frustrating.  What happened?

In golf, you just cannot predict what score you will shoot, nor do you want to.  The worst thing you can do is step up on a short hole and think you are going to make a birdie.  This means you are thinking too much about the result or the future and not enough about the process of hitting your shot to the desired target.
This lack of attention to the shot at hand causes the cycle of inconsistency to begin in my opinion. 

Remember, there are NO GUARANTEES in golf.  If you play most of your golf at your home course, it is easy to get complacent in your focus.  Before you know it, you are just going through the motions and the bad and ugly starts happening.

The best way to gain control of your game is to improve your thought process (target selection, pre-shot routine), course management (club selection, aim) and emotions.  When stepping up to any shot, your focus should be on the process of hitting the shot and not the outcome.  It is OK to acknowledge any hazards lurking in the distance, then block them out and focus on your TARGET!
My target is the sand dune between me and the fairway.
Your course management or strategy for the shot will be determined largely by your current ability.  In other words, if you cannot carry the bunker that is 210 yards off the tee, then your target and club selection will need to be adjusted to get you safely in the fairway.  If there is a water hazard or deep bunker on the right side of the green, then your target should be on the left side.

Once you have your target identified, you must block out all other obstacles and play from point A to point B with no mental interference.  You must not have a score in mind when you play a shot.  Stay in the present and make the best swing you can make. 
Eliminate the interference and play from point A to point B.

Do not let your emotions ruin your game.  If you happen to miss your target and end up in a hazard, you must remain positive and go through your routine for the next shot.  The worst thing to do is follow a bad shot with another bad shot caused by rushing and not thinking the shot through clearly.  Remember, each shot deserves to be hit with the same focus and attention regardless of the prior result. 

You can develop this focus on the practice tee by always choosing a specific target for each shot you hit. I find it helpful to imagine hazards on the practice range you have to avoid.  Strive to improve your quality of practice and not necessarily the quantity of balls you hit when practicing. 

Build good practice habits, follow your routine on the course for each shot and you will be on your way to the Good, and not the Bad or Ugly!

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