I have been playing very consistently lately, averaging one over par over the last seven rounds. Good ball-striking, solid chipping and pitching and a streaky putter. A very low round is just around the corner!
Playing really well for 16 or 17 holes and blowing it on the last hole or two is a very common scene played out on golf courses in “members competitions” all around the World on a daily basis (and in some pro tournaments).
Now you have two options as a response to blowing a round:
- Blame this or that, or just forget about it and say ho hum… “I blew that one” (and you will just repeat the outcome again) or
- Analyze what went wrong and DIG DEEPER into why you cracked; go read a book on golf psychology, talk to better golfers on how they cope with pressure and or – read the rest of this blog post!
Last weekend down at the club, as I was recording a solid 73 (1 over), a playing partner (off 8) was blowing his second round in a row where he was 39 points after 17 holes (he finished on 39). Plus, up in the car park I spoke with another guy (off 6 ) who did exactly the same… 39 stableford points after 17 holes; 39 points after 18 holes. Such a waste.
Here is what not to do and what TO DO – to finish off a hot round
You should have an idea, even when you are off the course, about what you do before each shot.
Why is a pre-shot routine important? Without one, the pressure will tighten you up. (We all feel pressure; when you know what to focus on you can use this pressure and energy to play great shots). You may have bad thoughts; you may have vague thoughts like: “Don’t hit it there” or “Hit it anywhere down the right”. These typical internal commands are no good.
Firstly, the brain does not understand “don’t” very well, it evolved to REACT and DO. When I’m playing my best golf, I’m not positive and I’m not negative, I’m just wrapped up in the act or DOING… Where do I have to hit the shot? What shot-shape will hit? What swing and feeling will I use.
Secondly, “just hit-it-to-the right” to avoid going left…vague, not specific. As a result, the player will quite often still hit it left.
There is an old story about Ben Hogan and a caddy who had knowledge of a course Hogan was playing for the first time.
The caddy said something like: Hit the ball at the pine trees down there. Hogan replied: “Which one”.
This, ladies and gentleman, is FOCUS. It has a twofold effect:
- There is no “don’t” involved, there is “do”. And it should be like this for EVERY shot you play, and even more so when you are feeling tension towards the end of a good round
- It takes your mind off bunkers, water, OB, score and past poor shots.
“Pick out your target, work out what type of shot you want to hit (fade, draw, straight, high, low, punch), feel the type of swing you are going to use, then EXECUTE.”
This type of focus and adherence to a plan should be applied to every shot you play.
Often we swing too fast or take too long or not enough time when under pressure. This is the beauty of focusing on a specific target and “knowing the swing you are going to use, before you use it.” Once again, your mind is now focused on the target and the swing you want to use. It is being “busied” with the things you need to DO.
When you are “aroused”, playing well but feeling the pressure, you have a lot of energy running through your veins. You can do great things with this energy if you stay focused on specific targets – whilst creating great swings and shots with your arms, hands and body. But, if you are too loose and vague and don’t PROGRAM YOUR BRAIN with something specific as discussed, you will crack.
Specific targets. Specific swing. Specific shot to be played. Stay focused.
If you like this post or you have a question on golf and or playing under pressure, leave a comment in the comments section. You can also alert this post to friends if you think it will help them.