Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Blowin' in the Wind

Today I watched the Rolex in a 2-3 club wind.  It seems as though it is windy everywhere this spring, because everyone in the golf world from Ireland to Texas to here in Minnesota is talking about the wind.  I was going to blog about playing in the wind today, but I did that previously (March 4th) and when I went back and read it, it seemed like I would be repeating myself.  Instead, today's blog will cover a problem I saw in action today, the "make up shot".  You might know it as the shot following the bad shot that you really really really need.  The more reallys, the more you press.  The more you press, the more chances you take.  The more chances you take, the more trouble you find yourself in and the reallys keep mounting until you are facing a double, triple or even a quad.

Do you gamble only when you're in trouble?  Would you do the same if each shot is worth money?  How do the pros learn to avoid big numbers? 

Today, I saw players making the right decision and punching out into the middle of the fairway, only to then go for a sucker pin and short side themselves, taking away their opportunity for an up and down.  Another reaction to being in trouble on a hole was to hit the first putt way past, leaving a knee knocker for par or bogey.  Once again, the player is in a pressing mode of trying to make up for past mistakes instead of playing each shot for what it is worth, which is one!

Keeping that in mind when things are going well or when watching from afar is quite different from staying calm in the heat of the battle with the wind, the course and the trouble.  We have all felt regret and self-reproach after a mistake on the golf course.  Because it is impossible to simply erase a mistake, we instead try to rectify it with sensational play.  We seem to want to create a Jekyll and Hyde split personality.  We have shown our worst side with our poor play and now we want to show our best side with a shot that makes up for our past.  The problem is, neither of these personalities are you!

Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde

How do you cope with this type of behavior on the golf course?  First, form a game plan and stick to it no matter what.  It can be very simple, such as, today I will always hit on the fat side instead of going right at the hole.  Or you can form a hole by hole plan based on what you need to make birdie or par on each.  Second, when you are in trouble, figure out how to get yourself a putt for par.  If you can do that, you will make your world a bit simpler and usually have a reachable goal.  Third, remember that each shot is worth one and one only.  If golf were a story problem on an algebra test and these were the values, (x=shot*y=risk equals z=penalty shots) you can see that multiplying the y will get you in trouble very quickly.  When you make a mistake, it will cost you shots.  Don't multiply those shots by adding to your risk.

The word press comes from pressure.  Golf puts pressure on you, your game and your head to separate the best from the others.  You will never play a game of golf without pressure if you care.  By understanding the game and what it demands, you can choose how you will deal with pressure before it happens.  Don't let pressure make you press.  Instead, be prepared to play the game one shot at a time and don't multiply your mistakes.  A mistake free round is rare, so decide prior to play that you will take one mistake in stride and vow not to multiply it into a score killing volley of mistakes.
Don't let the pressure of the game and the elements squeeze you into cracking out there!

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