How often have you found your game deteriorating after you hit that first bad shot? You were out there, hitting balls nice and sweetly, holing out well, mentally calculating your score and feeling pretty good. Then, out pops that stray shot, seemingly from nowhere, and it triggers a downward spiral.
We’ve all been there, and we’ve watched professionals fighting that same tendency. Sometimes you win that fight and at other times you lose. The question that remains is how can you take control of these situations and maximize your ability to ensure that you win more frequently and no longer allow one bad shot to trigger a whole truck load of baddies?
The thing about golf is that no matter how perfectly you hit the ball on the range, playing on the course presents an entirely different challenge. The lies are anything but flat and straightforward. Balls can be sitting there on lies that are downhill, uphill, sideways, lumpy, bumpy, deep in rough, plugged in sand, shaded by trees, deep in the undergrowth, and so on.
The courses themselves are set up in such a way so as to create optical illusions and correct alignment is no longer a simple matter. And then there’s competition pressure, wind, rain you name it, there’s a load more to contend with when you are actually out there on the course. Your perfect swing will only hold up to the same degree as your mind holds up.
When you’re on the range and you hit a bad shot you don’t get upset. You’re there to practice, there to learn. You expect a few bad shots. And you can hit one ball after another and so quickly replace in your mind any bad ones with a series of great ones. This enables you to walk away from the range feeling pretty good with yourself.
The golf course is a different matter. You hit a bad shot and you can get upset. You don’t get a chance to replay it and replace the memory of that bad shot. Or do you?
You see, this is a big part of the mental game of golf. The ability to commit the memory of bad shots to your mental trash can and replace it with a strong visual image of a perfect shot is the key to recovering well from a bad golf shot.
In this way, you don’t give in to the natural instinct to get upset. You remain calm and in control of your thoughts, focus and emotions. This enables you to be present and fully in control for your next shot. It stops you from dwelling on the past bad shot and chewing on it like a bone.
Being present is hugely important. If you aren’t fully aware of what you are doing how can you possibly do it well? It’s possible too, that when you think back, you might discover the reason why you hit that bad shot in the first place was because you were not absolutely present.
Your mind might not have been 100% engrossed in the task of hitting that ball. You might not have been 100% committed. You might even have been busy thinking about that card which was beginning to burn a hole in your golf brain!
Golf may well be more mechanical than mental whilst you are on the range. But as soon as you even contemplate setting foot upon the first tee box this game turns out to be almost entirely mental. If you want to be a good golfer you have to conquer both the mechanical and the mental aspects of this challenging game.
Roseanna Leaton, avid golfer and specialist in golf hypnosis mp3s and author of the GolferWithin golf mind training system.
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