photo credit: TourProGolfClubs What Jim Furyk did on the 70th hole (no. 16) of the 2012 U.S. Open Championship was a classic example of what it means to choke. Just to remind you: Furyk played flawlessly up until the 16th hole on the final day when he duck-hooked his drive into the trees only to cost himself the U.S. Open Championship.
Pressure is almost always the cause for choking. Sometimes your own mind can be your worst enemy. It could be a huge bet you’re thinking about, maybe you hold the lead and you don’t want to lose. Perhaps you are in a grudge match with a friend or playing in an important tournament at your local golf club. It could be any number of factors that cause your knees to weaken and beads of sweat to pour down your brow.
You choke because your mind is obsessed with the consequences of losing as in Furk’s case. How could one of the most consistent players on the PGA Tour crash and burn as he did in the U.S. Open? In his case the entire world was watching, he had millions of dollars at stake and you can bet he was thinking about that beautiful silver Open trophy. His mind got the best of him because he could not control the pressure.
Learning to control pressure means the difference between winning and losing in almost every case.”
photo credit: Nanagyei What does it mean to “know your game?” It simply means that you should know your limitations. Most golfers will not admit that they do have limitations both in distance and accuracy. Is golf, therefore, a machismo game? Maybe.
If you consistently hit your 5-iron 160 yards, why would you use that club on a 180-yard golf shot? The answer lies with the ego and most of us allow that to get in the way of shooting good scores.
Knowing your game means that you are aware of your shortcomings and make allowances for them. Don't use wishful thinking and presume you are going to hit an exceptionally good 150-yard shot landing 10 feet from the cup. Instead, make allowances to put yourself in a good position for your approach, in case your shot misses the green.
photo credit: SouthAsiaGolf Why do most golfers make such a fuss about hitting the “long” ball (long drive)? There is something in a golfer's psyche that makes him think that “longer” is always better, it couldn't be farther from the truth.
Smashing your drives can lead to miss-hits with your drive ending up in deep rough, thick woods or the desert. Hitting the ball longer and harder creates a greater likelihood of getting in trouble.
Don't try to drive the bal like Bubba Watson unless your landing area is wide and open. Otherwise on narrow fairways, play conservatively. This method is difficult to execute because of the natural instict to hit the ball a long way with the driver. No one ever said golf was easy !
photo credit: Digital Sextant Golf is one of the most difficult games to play because there isn't anyone to help you advance the ball from point A to point B. Although helpful, a caddie cannot swing the club, it's up to the player. What makes golf so difficult?
The difficulty comes from three sources: 1) The Course. 2) Others. 3) Yourself. . . The Course - Unique challenges are faced every time a new course is played (yardage, terrain, turf, weather etc.). Others – remember the saying “play against the course and not your competitors,” Try doing that the next time your in a close match with someone? Yourself - it's mentally challenging to keep your game and thoughts together for 18 holes of golf.
photo credit: russelljsmith Playing golf is a culmination of a series of events that lead up to the hitting phase of the golf swing along with the acceptance of the result. The phases of a single golf shot are comprised of six simple steps. Comprehending these steps will guide you in a one-shot mindset and keep you in “the present.”
1) Assess the shot (wind, lie, distance) and your feelings about the shot. 2) Analyze all options for playing the right shot. 3) Make an educated decision as to the type of shot you will hit. 4) Commit to your decision, trust your judgement and step into the shot (step across the play-line). 5) Execute the swing. 6) Accept the result of your shot whether it is good or bad.
photo credit: Ben Seidelman Try the following for a better playing attitude: Sit down and write out what you think are the most important qualities a golfer can have for building a great attitude. There are no right or wrong answers. Here are some examples:
1.) I will maintain my patience on the course > patience means that you will enjoy each round no matter how many bad shots you hit. 2.) I will maintain my composure at all times > being resilient and maintaining composure is critical no matter how tough the conditions may be. 3.) I will enjoy the process > look forward to each shot with enthusiasm and interest – take the good with the bad.
Identifying these components will help you incorporate them in your game.
1) What is your dream goal in golf? 2) What can you achieve with your game? 3) What is the greatest thing you can accomplish this year with your game? 4) Do you have a golf improvement plan, if so, what is it? 5) How badly do you want to achieve your goals? 6) Name three positive aspects of your game? 7) Name three aspects of your game that need to be stronger? 8) What is a positive aspect of your game that has occurred recently? 9) Do you stay committed to a practice plan? 10) What is your confidence level when you begin your round?
photo credit: rioncm Golf can be an easy game when you are playing well. Your mind is clear and your game seems to be on cruise control. You are decisive and it seems you can do no wrong. On the other hand, when you are “off,” every swing is forced, the game becomes difficult as you search for the correct tempo. The lack of consistency creates doubts and negative anxiety. You say to yourself “today is just not my day.”
Believing in yourself is the only cure-all. What you think about yourself is what you are and it also determines what you will become. Every great champion had one common trait, they all believed in themselves. You need to do this too!
photo credit: Seth Lemmons During any given round, decisions may have to be made that may cost extra strokes. For instance: if you have a 210 shot to a green which a large pond in front of it, do you lay-up or go for the green? Laying-up, could cost you an extra stroke. Careful consideration should be given to the pros and cons of these kinds of shots. Sometimes split decisions come at a high cost.
Base your decision/s on the following: 1) How hard is the shot? 2) How serious is it if I miss? Grade each on a number system from 1 to 10, with ten being the maximum. If you decide that each answer is below 7, hit the shot. If it's above that number, decide on another option.
photo credit: battlecreekcvb To play the game of golf well you must be adaptable. Being adaptable means the ability to play any shot humanly possible for any situation. As much as you would like your strategy for any given hole to be successful, often times this does not occur, therefore, you must be adaptable to playing shots from the rough, sand, water, woods, desert or any other precarious lie.
There are situations that develop that you have no control over such as the weather. Instead of trying to reach a 425 yd., par five hole in two, try to adapt to the wet and rainy conditions and count on reaching the green in three instead. Adapting in this way relieves your stress dramatically and allows you to play the game with more confidence.