Other than a few choice words, what can I really say about hitting my ball out of bounds. For me, it is one of the most frustrating shots in golf. I say this because I have to be well off my intended target to reach the out of bounds. However, as with all things in golf, it happens from time to time. The challenge for such a wayward shot is how I respond both emotionally and mentally. I can honestly say that in my early years of playing, I was not a very good athlete because of my poor response to going out of bounds.
Maturing as a person and a golfer helped mitigate my poor response to a poor golf shot. During these emotional outbreaks, my mental game would suffer which resulted in a bogey or double on the next hole. I was not able to handle the tense situation of hitting the ball out of bounds and as a result would make poor decisions for the rest of the hole and few holes after. As I worked to lower my scores and to break 80 consistently, I identified my mental and motional weakness when my game would falter.
Immediately after hitting my ball out of bounds, I would start to mental run through all the negative possibilities on my next shot. I would focus on the negative and it would build to a point where I am surprised that I was able to hit a good shot for the rest of the round. I would walk around with a cloud over my head that I had to dispel before could hit the ball properly again. I was really in a funk for a few years until one day I was talking to my mentor Bobby Fortune. I have mentioned him before and he was the person who shaped the game I have today.
During a round where Bob was helping me improve my course management, I hit my ball out of bounds. He watched my fill my mind with negative talk. He watched my struggle for the rest of the hole and waited until we were standing on the next tee before we engaged in conversation. He explained that all golfers (even him) made a poor shot from time to time. It was how we respond to these poor shots that make us better golfers. He explained that I needed to take a deep breath and start focusing on the positive thoughts about my next shot. He mentioned that two strokes I earned was not too bad as long as I did not compound my mistake with more unneeded strokes. He told me that I needed to fill my mind with positive thoughts in order to grow mentally and emotionally on the golf course.
I took Bobby’s advice to heart and found that pressure situations were not so difficult. I started to reduce the add on strokes and realized that by staying calm about the poor hitting situation greatly improve my score. After awhile, I started to adopt the positive focus and self-talk for all my shots. I found that this approach helped me to consistently lower my scores to a point where shooting is the 70s is a must.
I still hit the ball out of bounds from time to time, but my emotional and mental response is much stronger than in years past. Because of this, foundation of my game is stronger and I continue to feel that the best rounds are yet to come.
I am a grateful golfer! See you on the links!