Friday, January 14, 2011

SCORE!

Imagine if every time you holed out, you got the same excitement as this soccer announcer following an incredible goal by Ronaldinho.  Check it out!  You are on the green, lining up a  50 footer and when you roll it in, Johnny Miller yells for 20 seconds.  That would be cool.  Of course, golf isn't like that, but we need to have that same excitement inside and also that same goal of putting the ball in the hole with every shot. 

One of the first things you notice when you coach great players is that they give most shots they hit a chance to go in.  If they are within a reachable distance of the hole and strategy doesn't force them to stay under the hole or to one side of it, they will usually get the ball to the hole.  This belief system is one of confidence and vision and is the first step to shooting a low number. 


Another thing that great players do to consistently shoot low scores is play with a plan.  They understand that a golf course is like a chess board and they are always a few moves ahead.  On the tee of a par 5, they are clear with where the pin is, what club they want to use to get to the pin, what direction will give them the best target and what strength they will play to on that hole.  Can you remember the year that Zach Johnson won the Masters?  Here is one of his quotes following the win:

     "I think I'm mentally tough," said Johnson, who entered the tournament ranked 56th in the world. "I don't hit it very far, I don't overpower a golf course, but I think I'm a pretty decent putter. At Augusta National, putting is premium."

Zach knows one of his strengths is his putter.  Another is his mental toughness.  Both came into play that last day when Zach was tough enough to stick to a game plan that didn't include "going for it", but instead had him hitting wedges into the par 5's.  After the wedges came the putter and the birdies.  In fact, Johnson was -11 on par 5's even though he didn't go for any of them in two shots.

Yet another factor in scoring is to place faith in your ability to recover from anything.  Great players may chili dip a wedge, but most will follow the chili dip with a stiff shot next to the hole.  They don't allow themselves to think about poor results, but instead stay in the scoring mode and often even turn it up a notch.  Mistakes will happen, but great players don't let them multiply.  They don't try to make up for their mistakes by adding pressure or becoming more aggressive.  They also don't dwell on mistakes by mentally replaying it in their heads.  They move on.  They stick to their game plans.  They play the shot that is in front of them with no added drama from the past.  Scoring cannot be robotic, because we want mental toughness and I don't picture that from a robotic player.  However, scoring cannot be a drama, either.  Emotion is there to help great players and they use it to channel positive energy into their games.  If you have faith that you can recover from any bad shot, bad break or bad bounce, you will be coaching yourself with positive energy. 

Next time you are on the golf course, take these three strategies with you to become a more consistent low scorer.  First, get the ball to the hole and give yourself a chance to make every shot possible. Second, have a plan and know your strengths, and finally, have faith in yourself and channel positive emotional energy as you play the game. 

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