Distraction, What Distraction?

http://www.golfbytourmiss.com/2012/07/golf-a-study-in-concentration-despite-a-blazing-house-fire/Golf is a particularly interesting game.  One of the greatest attributes to a great golfer is concentration!  In the modern era, Jack Nicklaus demonstrated the greatest ability to concentrate while playing golf.  Through 18 PGA Tour Majors, 8 Senior PGA Tour Majors, 2 Amateur Titles he showed that to stay focused for 4 hours was very difficult, especially during the stop and start tempo of a round on the links.  While zeroing in on a shot for 15 seconds, many distractions could occur that would have an impact on the intended results.

“I was blessed with the ability to focus intensely on whatever I’m doing right now, free of distractions and to the exclusion of whatever else might pre-occupy me.” –Jack Nicklaus 

If you have never played in front of a gallery of onlookers, it is difficult to describe the feeling of all those eyes intently watching your every move.  The pros make it look easy. Each click of a camera, a cough, people shouting or the eerie quiet of a hushed crowd are all factors that could create distractions and interrupt your concentration. Having played with a small gallery of about 40 people watching, it is a bit unnerving.  However, it was possible to stay focused and calm the nerves; it just takes practice. “Concentration is a fine antidote to anxiety.” (Jack Nicklaus)

There are many ways to keep your concentration while playing.  It does take effort and practice, but ultimately the pay off is reduced scores and more consistent play.  The following are concentration tips will help any player start to develop their own concentration techniques:

Develop a solid pre-shot routine.  Annika Sörenstam states that “a pre-shot routine is a consistent and systematic procedure that is executed prior to hitting a golf shot and is very instrumental in the focus and relaxation process.”

Don’t over concentrate.  The Telegraph published an article regarding a study that being too focused may be detrimental to your overall game.  “One trick that people can certainly try is to try to distract your external focus. Make sure that your focus is on the hole or on a spot on the green and do not think about your technique or how your limbs are moving.” Basically, clear your mind when playing; to much activity between the ears does not really help.

Switching your concentration on and off.  Golf Today suggests that “the absolute ideal in a round of golf is that you switch ‘ON’ for your shots and then switch ‘OFF’ in between shots.”  Being able to be prepared to hit the ball when it is time to perform is an extremely valuable skill.  It is impossible to stay focused for 4.5 hours (as well all know); some Golf Today suggests are:

  • A particular mark on your glove like the RED DOT. Make it personal to you and then look at this before you start your routine.
  • Have a particular word you say to yourself like ‘FOCUS’
  • Open and close the Velcro fastener on your glove paying attention to the sound.

Regardless what you do to turn your concentration on and off, it has to be yours and something that will enable you to focus when required.

Visualization.  Visualizing your shot is another way to hone your concentration skills.  See yourself hitting the ball successfully.  When playing, take 5 seconds behind the ball see your shot, then step up, and perform.  Visualizing a shot will allow you to stay focused when needed most!

There are countless ways to stay focused on the course.  To achieve the greatest success while playing golf does take concentration.  How a players develops this skill is really an individual process.  Everyone is different, however having a pre-shot routine, not over concentrating, being able to turn your focus on and off or visualization are but four ways to lower your score and play consistently.

What are some techniques you use to stay focused on the course?

I am a grateful golfer!  See you on the links!

7 thoughts on “Distraction, What Distraction?

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