“They say every golfer is just two shots away from crazy. One bad shot you can deal with. Two in a row and you go nuts. I try to stop the cycle after one”.
These are the words of Joseph Parent, PhD, author of Zen Golf: Mastering the Mental Game. This golf book is one of the numerous publications which have emphasized on the importance of mind in the game of golf.
The mind is a conundrum for any golfer. It enables the golfer to play with concentration and focus. At the same time, it entices emotions like anxiety and tension. There is a fine line which separates the two and it is necessary for a golfer to maintain a balance between the two.
Mental golf has become a sport in itself. In fact, leading golfers put greater weight on doing the mental part right. It is said that golf is 90% a mental game and the remaining 10% is the physical part. The irony is that most of the amateur and novice golfers work on the physical part exclusively. Rory McIlroy is a prime example of how a great young golfer can fall apart after three wonderful rounds. In the 2011 Masters Tournament, Rory was playing perfectly at -11 going into Sunday’s fourth round. Then he hits an 80 and all the good is forgotten.
The mind can be a friend or an enemy, depending on how you use it. There are several aspects to focus on during a round of golf. Getting mind over putter requires you to work on mental golf. And since putting is 50% or more of the game, start thinking.
Keeping Focus after Getting a Shot Wrong
It happens to every golfer. Whether you are a Sunday golfer or Tiger Woods, you will hit a bad shot at least once every few rounds. One wrong shot can shatter the concentration and focus of a golfer. This is where mental golf comes into play.
Dave Pelz says ‘Golf is not a game of perfect’. You should adopt this mantra. Just getting the job done is enough, you don’t have to get a hole-in-one each time.
Even when you hit a shot wrong, there are some things you would have done right. The best way to improve your mental game is to think positive. Having a positive frame of mind ensures that your attention level doesn’t drop. Any shot cannot be 100 percent wrong. Perhaps the swing was wrong, maybe the stance was wrong or you just didn’t hit it with enough accuracy. This means that one aspect of your golfing needs rectification rather than a drastic overhauling of your playing style.
This is the message you have to convey to yourself after you hit a bad shot. Don’t cry over spilt milk! Many golfers think negatively to an extent that they start to think they are mediocre at the game. This kind of attitude can destroy the career of a golfer. Such thinking will ensure that you will never step on to a golf course again.
So, what to do after hitting the ball into the lake?
It is natural to get caught up in the moment. A bad shot can deviate your mind from the main goal. This is the time when the emotions starting boiling up. You will feel the anxiety and stress rising up. The best way to combat is to remain relaxed and calm. Take deep breaths or a drink of water to pacify yourself.
NetBet sums it up really well. “The correlation between thinking well and making successful shots is not 100%. But the correlation between bad thinking and unsuccessful shots is much higher.”
Image by: John Trainor