I was having the round of my life! As I walked towards the par 5, 18th hole at Laurentide Golf Course (par 71), the realization that an eagle would help me shoot the lowest score of my life…a 68! Positioning ball on the tee box, to avoid the bunker 255 yards out to the right, put my mind in the proper state to execute the required shot. Going through my pre-shot routine, I hit the ball down the left side of the fairway into the first cut, but with a great lie. As I thought about my second shot, I decided the risk – reward is worth pulling my three-wood and going for the green. With a sand trap in the centre of the fairway 25 yards back from the green and a water hazard on the right about 75 yards from the green, the probability of me staying on the elevated green from 240 yards was remote. But, my short game was on fire that day, so I was confident that an up and down birdie was the worst that could happen! I went through my normal pre-shot routine, step of the ball and made solid contact.
The confidence from playing well on that day continued to grow. My ball landed just before trap, took a big bounce and stopped 10 yards from the green at the bottom of elevation. After realizing that my ball was lying in a good spot for my next shot, my thoughts turned to how to navigate the elevated green and sink that chip for my 68. I select my club (56 degree sand wedge) and went through my pre-shot routine. With confidence I hit the ball cleanly, landed it 15 feet from the pin, and watched it roll towards the hole.
As my ball continued to track towards the hole, my excitement started to rise. The ball took the proper break and what seemed like an eternity, everything looked awesome. As my ball struck the pin, I heard what I thought was a clap of thunder! My ball hit the pin, bounced back towards the lip of the hole, bounced forward and hit the pin again! I was yelling “GET IN, GET IN!” Well my ball stopped on the lip of the hole, disappointed and elated at the same time I tapped it for a birdie and a low score of the year a 69!
The ability to perform under pressure is a skill all golfers desire. As you can see from my adventure above, the pressure to hit a great shot on the last hole of an awesome round continued to mount! But, my ultimate success did not start on the 18th hole or even the first hole of that round. It actually started about three weeks before; when, after analysing my performance to date, I realized that I was not improving. I was just treading water!
I decided to change two things in my game. The first was the amount of time I spent chipping and putting. I decided to adopt the 80/20 rule. So I practiced my short game for 80 percent of my practice time. Of that, I divided my time 60/40 – 60 percent chipping and 40 percent putting. During my original 20 percent, I mixed up my clubs on the range with a majority of my focus on the 3, 4, and 5 hybrid. This practice regime significantly improved my up and down percentage and quickly increased my confidence around the green.
The other thing I changed was my attitude! I decided that ‘close’ was not good enough. I tried (and still struggle with from time to time) to eliminate all doubt when swinging a golf club. I decided that: a positive mental attitude, that I could hole every chip, and that all putts would drop, was the way forward. Combine this approach with my new expectation that any score over 75 was just not good enough help expand my winning mindset in golf! This approach helped shape my future successes and over the past 3 years, my handicap has continued to drop. Albeit slowly, it still continues to drop.
As I continue to prepare for the 2015 golf season, I will expand my winning mindset. I will increase my off course mental preparation through visualization, mental imagery, and a positive “I can do anything” attitude! This may sound silly, but everything I have read lately seems to point in this direction. Who am I to turn away from this message of success!
I am a grateful golfer! See you on the links!