Have you ever been playing a round of golf and nothing is going wrong? I mean when you happen to hit an errant shot, it hits a tree or rake and lands in perfect position. I have experienced several rounds like these, but not many of the years. When they do occur, golf is so much fun that I cannot wait to play another 18 holes of golf. While these rounds are few and far between, I have played many rounds where my game was on fire and I was not able to handle the extra pressure of success.
I remember one round of golf in particular just two years ago. I started off my normal round with birdie with 3 great swings and an easy tap in. This is a fantastic way to start and I felt very comfortable with the way my round had started. I was not thinking about much, just enjoying the day.
The next few holes were as easy as the first and I parred 4 more. Sitting 1 under on the 5th hole I started to pay attention to my round. Understanding that it was still early in the round, it was not overly focused, but aware that I was playing very well. After a bogey, birdie and 2 pars I was heading to the back nine under par.
Well, now my excitement was starting to grow and every shot compounded my stress on my game. It is during these times that I rely heavily on my practice times when I grooved my swing. The less I think about swing mechanics, the better my back nine will fair.
The back nine started off great. The par 5, 10th hole is one of my favorite. The key is the drive and I striped the fairway about 210 yards left to the green. After a solid 3 wood, I was putting for eagle. Now my mind is starting to race and my anticipation was starting to get the best of me. I still had lots of golf left and started to focus on trying to make one shot at a time. After a solid 2 putt I was 2 under.
This is not an unusual position to under par in a round, but this day was something special. My swing was grooved and every shot seemed easy. Unfortunately, my mental focus was starting to challenge my physical abilities. Don’t get me wrong, I was having a fantastic time and now I wanted to shoot under par.
The next 6 holes were fairly routine. I saved par three times with some good up and downs; and made 3 more routine pars. By now, my heart was racing with excitement. I was 2 under standing on the par 3, 17th tee. As you can see below, there is a big pond I wanted to avoid so I aimed a bit left and ended up in the trap. After splashing out of the trap and a routine 2 putt, I was still 1 under heading to the 18th tee.
This were I became overwhelmed with the situation. I thought with all my experience that I would have handled this situation better. But, all I could think about was not pushing the ball into the woods on the right off the tee! As a matter of fact, that was all that was in my mind instead of focusing on the shot I wanted to make. Well, I am happy to say that I did not push my ball right; I pull it left into a small clump of trees!
Not to worry because I was in this situation before and easily made par. After finding my ball, I punched the ball out to 90 yards and was left with an up hill shot to a two tiered extremely elevated green.
Sitting two, all I needed to do was put the ball on the green, take my 2 putt and walk off with even par for the round. But no, I was not thinking well and started to become overwhelmed. I had to get this ball close to ensure that I shot par and score under par. After pulling my ball left (again) on my approach shot, I now was wondering if I had done more damage than I had hoped.
Luckily I found my ball, chipped up and was sitting 4 before any putts. I was about 15 feet away and after my first putt, I was left with a 1 foot tap in for a double bogey and 1 over for the round. I was so disappointed walking off the green; mentally, I played so poorly for the last two holes.
I let the situation overwhelm my thinking and started to focus on what I should not do instead of what I should do. Looking back I can think of a hundred things I should have done to prevent my collapse, but at the time I was overwhelmed by the situation and could not think straight. Now, I consider this a learning situation and hopefully in the future can perform better when the need arises.
Have you ever been overwhelmed by good play on the golf course?
I am a grateful golfer! See you on the links very soon!