HOW to play golf one shot at a time
How many times have you been out on the course and experienced frustration at not being able to play the kind of game you know you know how? I’ve got an answer here today for you.
Mike is a fanatical weekend golfer. He plays year round and whenever he can get enough time for 9 holes or just an hour to hit a few balls on his way home from work mid-week. He loves reading golf magazines and email newsletter tips and really enjoys following the professional tours.
When the weekend comes around and he gets to play with his buddies in a friendly match with some money on it, he is so excited driving to the course that he just can’t stop smiling and his body has this light tingling feeling of anticipation. He loves the camaraderie and the competition.
He pulls into the lot visualizing his best shots and talking himself up that he’s a great putter. After checking in and getting a small bucket, he proceeds to work his way from pitching wedge to driver on the range…and he’s feeling good!
He moves over to the practice putting green and calmly sinks 4-5 foot putts one after the other. He takes a few lag putts and is satisfied with how he is reading the greens in leaving the ball within 2 feet.
He’s ready..and he feels it! His confidence is sky high.
His approach shot is a bit short so he pulls out the lob wedge to float it over the bunker for a soft landing. It’s a tricky shot but he’s done it successfully many times.
Unfortunately, he blades it a bit and the ball runs past the hole and he ends up 2 putting for a bogey.
Still beating himself up over the chip shot, he goes to the next tee and hits a wild duck hook. Bewildered where that came from, he still manages to pull out another bogey on the hole.
Mike starts figuring out what he has to do for the next few holes in order to “get those 2 shots back” in order to wipe the memory of them from his mind. In some twisted way, he’s connected future birdies in his mind with past mistakes much like an amateur gambler does when thinking “I need to get even” after being down and then starts doubling the bets from this faulty thinking.
Mike starts pressing for a birdie to make up for those bogeys. He’s now lost the great feelings he had when he showed up to the course. His mind is making all sorts of “calculations” about the rest of the round. He’s forgotten about having a great time with his buddies. He’s forgotten why he plays golf in the first place. He’s totally centered his entire experience on his score….
…and that’s why he’s not scoring well.
And now he’s added frustration to anger and disappointment. Not the best state to be in to have a great round.
It is often repeated by sports psychologists to play one shot at a time. This is where Mike went wrong. But how do you do that? How do you play one shot at a time when your mind isn’t cooperating?
My problem with a lot of golf mental game advice is that you hear such simplistic terms without the tool to make it happen. Here’s my tool to play one shot at a time:
During the round, your goal is to be in the present moment. You do this by putting your focus on what your 5 senses are taking in. You get out of your head and into your senses by noticing what you see, hear, feel and touch and yes, even your sense of smell and taste. That’s what will put you in the present moment.
You see, all of Mike’s problems came from thinking about the past or the future. When you think about what your senses are experiencing right now, you are directing your mind in a very easy, natural way that works wonders for your golf score.
See how long you can put all your focus, awareness and attention on what your senses are doing before going into some kind of analytical thinking. The more you do this off the course, the better you will do it on the course…and your best game will show up without even trying.
Greens and fairways,
p.s. I’d love to see your comments below