Playing A Roller Coaster Round Of Golf

Each round of golf has its own surprises. Depending on the day, we will shoot and awesome score, one we are embarrassed to talk about, and one that has so many hills and valleys that we get dizzy just thinking about it. The latter roller coaster round is one that most players experience on a routine basis. There is no rhyme or reason for the ups and downs……or is there?

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A Weak Finish Hurt My Golf Score

On Sunday, I was able to scoot out for a round of golf. It was a beautiful day and I fortunately the course was relatively empty so I walked on. At the 4th hole, I met up with my friend Fernando and we finished the 18 holes at a nice leisurely pace. Additionally, we met up with Tim and Ron on the 10th hole to round out our foursome. Overall, it was a great day for golf and I played with some fun guys. However, I did notice that I finished weak on both nines that did hurt my golf score.

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Did I Make or Miss My Shot

Sometimes I am faced with a unique shot that challenges my ability to focus on hitting the ball and not the conditions around me. Well, a few days ago, I had this exact situation and I decided to rise to the challenge. I mean why not, I was playing well and felt that the conditions were perfect for something good to happen.

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Losing My Concentration Mid Golf Round

What do we mean when we say concentrate or focus when getting ready to hit a golf ball? Do you think of all the aspects of your swing you have to complete or do you think of one thing – personally, I am a one thing player and it makes a difference to my score. Unfortunately, like my last round, I have a tendency to lose my concentration mid round and as result, rack up the strokes needlessly. This is a something I try to avoid, but it does creep in from time to time.

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Distraction, What Distraction? 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!