I was a little undecided as to what the next blog would be. Originally I was going to defend my views on practicing and lessons, but instead I think I will cut to the chase. In order to improve your handicap significantly, you have to do two things. Believe that the your game is 100% mental and you must improve your putting. This is for golfers who have single digit handicaps, but I am not too sure if it might not be a little higher. Regardless we have to start somewhere and single digits is as good as any. So what does this really mean.
First, lets start with the statement your golf game is 100% mental. If you are a single handicap player, you have a pretty good idea of what the golf swing is all about and you strike the ball pretty well, with some consistency. When things go wrong on the golf course and you are going through a bad spell, you immediately look for a part of your golf swing to correct. This is a mistake. You can not be criticized too harshly for this process, because you read about someone on the PGA tour who does essentially the same thing. They correct something they think was a bad habit so to speak, that crept into their swing, and sure enough they are again in the top ten or even winning a tournament. I maintain that bad shots on the golf course are caused by a faulty mental process, which causes the bad swings. The possibilities here are endless, but I will list a few of many. Taking the wrong club, not evaluating the lie properly, playing a shot beyond your capabilities, not evaluating the slope of the lie, playing the wrong type of shot, not taking in consideration of the conditions, and unsure of course lay out. All these things will contribute to a bad shot if not properly addressed, and this leads to a bad swing. Bad swings are created by bad planning or lack of awareness of the conditions of the shot. This will also lead to more bad shots, because you are looking in the wrong place to correct the problem. Here are some big mental do’s and don’ts over this past year, that I learned . You must have a good mental picture of the shot you want to play. There are so many ways to do this, that this can be a blog all by itself, but you must find a way to visualize the shot. No two shots are ever alike. A huge mental trap is trying to repeat a mental feeling or thought process for what you feel is a very similar shot that you had success before. It will not work. It’s like trying to duplicate signing your name exactly the same way every time. It’s not going to happen. It’s easy to forget the bad shots, but you must forget the good shots also. Every shot, you must start from scratch to try and hit the proper shot. You must have a feeling of comfort before you hit the shot, or that tension will creep into your swing and a bad shot will result. So forget about your swing. Its your brain that is keeping you from getting to scratch.
Putting, oh yes, speaking of 100% mental. This must improve dramatically if you are going to have big drop in your handicap. You must find “your” way to putt. As long as it is within the rules, go crazy. Forget any so called fundamentals of putting, there are none. Stand, grip, and stroke any way you want. Experiment, Experiment, Experiment. Your putting must improve dramatically and if you do not think this, then your handicap will not go down, no matter how well you hit the ball. You may think you are a good putter, but if you are not scratch, then you are wrong. That’s all there is too it. What ever you are doing putting right now, it’s not working and go back to drawing board. All I can say is find a way.
I will expand on the mental process in future blogs as the blog will take a new direction this year. This will be a diary of my golf year as I will write after every round or two. We will see if I make any progress on trying to get my index down from its current 4.7. I have already played a couple of times this year but now it looks like winter has set in for the long hall in the Burgh. I will elaborate on some more mental pitfalls in the coming weeks. Happy New Year and good luck on the course.