Two days ago, I happily made my way to the first tee. I was looking forward to playing and hoping that I could improve on my previous rounds. My round started with losing a tee shot (for awhile) in the long grass. After a 3 minute look, I hit found the little darling playing hid and seek under some mown grass. I hit my second shots (I was playing two balls) to short of the green and that is when things started to go off the rails.
I had two short 30 yard chips and grabbed my trusty 56° wedge. I have chipped in twice with this magical stick, so these shots should be easy peasy…..right? As I set up, I did not mentally feel focused and continued to hit anyway. I hit both shots heavy. They made the green, barely. I was able to salvage my pars and the made my way to the second tee. Not worrying about my poor chipping, I teed it up on the challenging par 3.
I made two good tee shots that were no more than 10 yards from the green. This time I grabbed my 52° wedge and was ready to hit the balls close. Again, I hit both chips heavy and I was starting to wonder what the heck was going on with my short game. I mentally went through all steps I needed to make a good chip, but my execution was very poor. After shooting one bogey and one par, I trundled on to the third tee.
I hit two good drives and was about 120 yards from the green. I used a PW and left on ball short and one on the green. As I set up to chip my one wayward shot, I took my time through all my chipping steps. Unfortunately, I could not seem to focus on my shot. Mentally, I knew what I was suppose to do, yet I could not seem to execute the shot I wanted. I walked off the third hole with two bogies. Walking to the fourth tee, I need to reduce the stressors I was putting on my game. The only thing I could think to do was stop playing two balls.
I hit a good shot off the tee with my 3 wood. I was 147 yards (laser finder) out and with my attention focused only on one ball, I seemed to feel better about making this shot. I hit a solid 8-iron and was off the right about 7 yards. My shot, however, was what I expected and was happy with the result. I grabbed my PW and focused on making a good shot. Surprisingly, I was able to mentally focus on my chip and I left my ball to within 2 two feet and a tap in.
As the rest of my round unfolded, my focus became sharper and sharper on all my shots. The next five holes I shot a birdie, a bogey and three pars. It was like a switched turn and I started playing golf the way I expect. It was a relief.
The important lesson I learned during my last round was that distractions can negatively affect my mental focus. In this case, I was playing two balls and for some reason this split my focus more than normal. I have experienced this challenge in the past. Sometimes life events were the challenge or I was taking too many pictures for my blog or I was too focused on helping someone improve their game. Basically, I was spreading my mental acuity too thin and I forgot about my game.
Of course their are many other ways to lose focus on the golf course and it is a real challenge for amateurs. Learning to shut out external stressors is important to playing great golf. My little reminder last round was all I needed to ensure that the next time I tee it up I am mentally prepared to play great golf!
I am a grateful golfer! See you on the links!