Monday, November 14, 2011

Selective Attention

In past blogs, we have talked about decision making and selective attention.  As I mentioned previously, one of my roles as a coach is to be the master of the obvious.  As players progress and become more experienced, they will rely more on a mental checklist and not take things for granted.  Things such as the slope of the lie of the ball, the wind and the placement of the hole on the green will be considered instead of merely noted.

You may think that you always pay attention to the wind, but when the pressure is on, you might miss it completely.  The same can be said when the ball is above or below your feet.  Great course designers, such as Tom Doak (who is my favorite), will often place subtle slopes that combine with prevailing winds to lead players to miss targets in a certain direction.  Add water or sand to that miss and you will pay a penalty for not paying attention.  Simply paying attention is an important skill in tournament golf.  Juniors and college players don't get the benefit of a caddy, whose main role is to pay attention or be the master of the obvious for their player.
Caddy, AJ Eathorne, is also a great player.  Did that help her or hurt her as she made the transition to caddy?  As a college champion, she was probably already paying attention to all the things that matter to a player on the course.

I have a clear memory of one of my former players, Jenny Poth, throwing grass in the air on the first tee of the Old Course at St. Andrews.  We all thought it was a funny thing to do, because it was blowing about 30 mph in our faces, but she had simply trained herself to always pay attention to the wind and this was part of her pre shot routine.  She didn't take it for granted when it was calm or when it was blowing.  How do you pay attention to the important factors?  Do you game plan for them by preparing in the practice round or do you include things in your pre shot routine?  However you accomplish it, it is an important skill to train it and make sure it is there when it counts the most.

How well do you pay attention?

Check out this video:  Monkey Business

I will continue the blog tomorrow, because I want you to go watch the video without continuing to read.  Good luck on the test!

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