From Practice to Playing Golf
How did I swing so fluidly on the range 10 minutes ago, but now, on the first hole, I chop at the ball like a lumberjack?
This is one of the greatest frustrations most golfers face. We’ve proved to ourselves that we can swing well on the practice range, but transferring these feelings, the rhythm and confidence onto the course is quite a different challenge.
The ability to transfer your golf game from the range onto the course is one of the essential mental skills to be mastered.
This mental skill can be learned and improved. Just like any teaching professional worth his or her salt better be able to cure a slice, any golf psychologist better be able to help golfers take their games from the range to the course.
To effectively transfer your golf game over, there are essential mental perspectives to apply.
First, the 7-iron you hit on the range is entirely different from the 7-iron you might hit on the first hole. They are two separate situations that involve quite different mental processes.
Most often, we feel good about our swings on the range after we have repeated the same shot. We feel our swings are “grooved.”
But during a round you only get one chance at each shot. Second, When warming up prior to a round there are myriad swing factors to which you may be paying attention – posture, alignment, takeaway, hand positions, rotation, swing plane, tempo, plus any swing cue that has been working for you.
Trying to do all of those things over a shot during the round will probably lead to a
mental meltdown. Forget about all these isolated mechanical issues and perform integrated swings. This
is where mind and body come together.
Third, on the range you’re in a ball orientation, but during a round you need be in target and process orientations. During warm–up, you are focusing on striking the ball and maybe seeing how it flies through the air. There, the golf ball is the end.
But during a round the ball is a means to other ends. Once you step onto the golf course, you have to focus on a target, whether it be the hole or a spot in the fairway.
These three mental perspectives are critical to performing at your best during a round.
During your warm-up on the range, you must gradually and consciously shift your thinking from a practice mentality to a playing mentality~ The best way to do this is to follow what Ed Grant advised back in 1981:
“If you want to play more like you practice, you must star to practice like you play.”
From your practice sessions to you warm-up sessions, everything you do should be done in the way
you would like to do them on the course. Pick out a precise target, follow your preshot routine and commit yourself to the shot. If you’re hitting more than two balls per minute, you’re going too fast.
Granted, there are times to do drills or work on specific mechanics, but the last
half of every practice session should be used to replicate the kinds of on-course performances you seek.
1. GO THROUGH YOUR RELAXATION sequence and settle into
yourself as you stretch. Good players do this before theyhit balls and even just
before theywalkto the first tee.
2. ALTERNATE YOUR SHOTS on the
range. Hit a 9-iron and then a 6-iron. -Yes, you might not feel cdmfoi~table
doing this,but it is more akin to what you will be facing on the course.
3. PICK OUT VERY SPECIFIC
TARGETS. Aim for dead grass or a drain. Get used to focusing on a target.
4. HIT THREE-QUARTER SHOTS
and work the ball. Let’s face it, perhaps only half of the shots you hit during a
round will be your standard full swing on a flat stance with the ball sitting up.
Get a feeling and confidence on the
range for your creative shots.
5. REHEARSE KEY SHOTS you’ll be
hitting in the first three holes. For example, I believe the first hole at Graeagle
Meadows is the most demanding opening hole in Northern California. It’s a 440-yard
dogleg left around trees with water on the right. On the range, Iwill practice
drawing a three-wood. I imagine myself on the first tee with each of these shots I
6. FEEL ThE RHYTHM. The last
3rd of the balls you hit should be rhythmical swings at 80 percent full power. Think
and feel rhythm. You can carry this to the course.
7. MAKE TIME FOR SHORT-GAME
PRACTICE – putting, pitching and chipping. I believe that if you only have time for
either full swings or chipping, you should choose chipping.
8. TAKE TIME FOR YOURSELF
before you walk to the first tee.
Complete your mental transitions, yawn, shrug your shoulders and say hello to the
If you’re aware of these mental orientations, warm up properly and employ some of the
above techniques, you’ll become more effective in transferring your golf game onto the
course. You’ll truly be ready to play.
I hope I have been worth my salt.
“It’s a fact that a person can acquire a complete mastery of the skills needed to succeed in golf. Yet, this same person may not be able to perform in a consistenly winning manner. As a highly regarded sports psychologist, Dr. Tom Kubistant has made a difference when it comes to unlocking the mental barriers that may keep us from success in golf.”
Jan Usher – PGA, Lakeridge Golf Course
Dr. Tom Kubistant has been called “The Master of the Intrinsic.” He maintains the entire bibliography on the mental
game of golf…and has read it all! Nobody is more experienced than Tom. He continues to work with professional and average golfers every day.
If you want to get your game to the next level, click here to get
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Author of “Performing Your Best, Links Golf, Mind Pump: The Psychology of Body Building, business and sales training audios, over 280 articles for magazines and now………Mind Links – The Psychology of Golf.