Remaining focused and calm on the golf course is a sure fire way to shoot low scores. This is not a revelation for most avid players, yet it seems that it is a lesson I forget from time to time. In my game, the concentration for a solid round starts prior to my first tee shot, but that first shot sets me up for success if I approach it with the proper frame of mind. In other words, finding my centre and keeping it!
The moment I step onto the first tee is the when my mental game becomes tuned. I prepare before arriving to the first hole, but when selecting a club for my first hit, I mentally narrow my focus. It is important to start as soon as possible because I believe that the first hit helps set the stage for the next 3.5 hours of fun.
At Osprey Links Golf Course, our first hole is a par 5, dogleg right with water down the right and OB on the left. It actually sounds like a tough hole, but in actual fact it is not really. Three average shots and I can easily reach the green with no issues. However, the risk reward for cutting the corner on the right brings the water and two difficult sand traps into play. There is plenty to think about and remaining centered is critical on that first shot.
The fairway is about 40 yards wide and narrows at the corner. If I hit a very good shot, I can go through the fairway, but not into any real long trouble except longer rough. If I hug the sand traps, I can roll out far enough to maybe reach the green in two (I have only accomplished this twice in all the years I have played Osprey Links). But, this is a low percentage shot. Going right is wet all the way.
Standing behind my ball on the first tee, I focus on the centre of the fairway just past the sand traps on the right. There is a telephone pole I use as my aiming point and then I swing away. It is after my first shot that my effort to remain centered starts. If I was not mentally prepared before I hit my first shot and pull the ball left, I have to convince myself that it is on the first shot. If I push it right, I am scrambling to save par and remain calm. Now this to and fro battle in my mind begins because I was not mentally ready to start.
If I am centered and focused before my first shot, my mind does not immediately start to scramble. It stays calm and I start to focus on the next shot. I can honestly say that this is the norm. I am mentally prepared before I start and it allows me to navigate any challenges I face without any sense of panic or mental strain. When I find my centre before I play and keep it for the entire round, golf seems very easy to play and I shoot low scores.
Being mentally prepared to play golf is as important as being physically ready. The options are endless for players to find that mental path to success. For me, it is finding my centre and keeping it for the entire round. It can be challenging some days, but most of the time it is a natural part of my preparation to play. When I am centre all is good on the course; when I am not, well …….
Do you find your centre before you play?
I am a grateful golfer! See you on the links!