Even Tiger selects exactly which courses he chooses to play at, veering towards the ones where he has played his best, has good memories from and has enjoyed the most. Different courses do inevitably provide their own unique challenges, some that suit our nature and others that do not.
Playing any different course can pose a challenge to many people. We are all, to a lesser or greater degree, creatures of habit. It is more comfortable and therefore easier to play courses that we know.
Think about driving your car for a moment. When you first started to drive you had to think about absolutely everything and your knuckles were probably white upon the wheels due to tension. These days it is totally different. You barely have to think at all and your hands are nice and relaxed. You probably drive one-handed most of the time! But, if you happen to go abroad and have to drive a stick shift car on the wrong side of the road, you probably feel a little different, a little less comfortable
Playing golf at a new course certainly makes you think more. As you employ your conscious thinking brain more you can interfere with the smooth and automatic processing of your subconscious mind. This is why it is doubly or triply important to have a robust pre-shot routine that is absolutely set in stone.
With this mental skill firmly packed together with your clubs into your golf bag, you are set to play your best possible golf. You assess each shot option using your conscious thinking mind. Once you have reached your shot decision and have firmly committed to it, then, and only then, you pull out your pre-shot routine and switch over to your subconscious mind. This is what allows you to play your shot smoothly in a state of relaxed and confident awareness.
If you fail to take your pre-shot routine with you to a new course you will end up trying to make a shot with a myriad of conscious thoughts still competing for each other in your conscious mind and your desired shot is unlikely to be released. Lets face it, this indecision and lack of commitment happens for all of us from time to time at our home course. But on a course that you know well, you are more likely to fall back upon a well-rehearsed shot simply by default. On a new course, there is no such comfortable default tucked up your sleeve and that you can even semi-rely upon!
When assessing the importance of your pre-shot routine, think of it like a shot in itself. You might have 36 putts, 18 tee shots, 10 chips, etc. You have to employ your pre-shot routine for every single shot to be able to get the best out of it. So never, ever, under-estimate its importance. As the great golf teacher Jim Flick is quoted as saying, Golf is 90% mental, and the other 10% is too.
Roseanna Leaton, golf addict and specialist in golf hypnosis mp3s and author of the GolferWithin golf mind training system.
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