Focusing on Your Golf Game
Have you ever talked yourself out of playing a good round of golf?
You can easily come up with a handful of reasons why you will not have a good day on the golf course every time you step out of the clubhouse…
- “My shoulder hurts.”
- “My back is stiff.”
- “I got no sleep last night.”
- “I’m so hungry.”
- “The winds are too strong.”
- “The greens are slow.”
- “The course is slick.”
- “I played bad yesterday.”
- “I always choke on this golf course.”
- “I don’t like my pairing.”
- “My putting doesn’t feel right.”
- “The field is too talented.”
- “Luck has not been on my side recently.”
- “I can’t seem to find my rhythm.”
These are just a fraction of the excuses that can derail you or hold you back from playing at your peak.
One or two of these excuses can be challenging and alter your game significantly.
However, when golfers play the “excuse game,” they are usually all in. It’s not just one or two excuses a golfer throws in their way; it’s a litany of excuses that create an unyielding mental obstacle course.
With each excuse, a golfer will come up with several other excuses to justify their stance in the first place.
- “I will never break 100 today because I can’t sink a putt…”
- “My putting has been off for months and I just don’t feel comfortable.”
- “Anyway, the rain over the past few days has made putting practically impossible and caused my back to tighten up.”
- “It seems like every time I play on this course, things go wrong for me.”
- “The front nine is too difficult and, wouldn’t you know, I’m paired with Bob who always gets me nervous.”
One excuse snowballed into a laundry list of excuses that has talked you out of playing to the level of your abilities.
Winning the excuse game will cause you to lose at the game of golf every time.
It’s like Henry Ford once said, “Whether you think you can or think you can’t you’re right.”
Francesco Molinari, the winner of the 2018 British Open could have easily fallen prey to the “excuse game”.
Molinari had never won a major, was paired with Tiger Woods who took the lead during the final round and was competing in windy conditions against a star-studded field with six golfers tied for the lead on the back nine.
Instead of finding excuses, Molinari found a way to win by focusing on “his process” and playing bogey-free golf.
MOLINARI: “To go the weekend bogey free, it’s unthinkable, to be honest. So very proud of today. Very proud of — obviously, playing with Tiger was another challenge because of the crowds and everything. But I felt really good this morning. When I came here, I felt I was ready for the challenge… It’s amazing to stand here with the Claret Jug. I knew I was coming in with some good golf. My record around here was terrible. So that didn’t make me too optimistic about the week, but I just tried to not think about it and focus on hitting good shots day by day.”
By focusing on his process, Molinari was able to twice save par with 8-foot putts on the 12th and 13th, take the lead for the first time with a short birdie on the par-5 14th and sink a birdie putt on the 18th hole that made him a major champion.
MOLINARI: “ I felt ready for [playing my best golf during the final round]. Calm — you know, as calm as you can be playing in the last round of a major close to the lead, playing with Tiger. I mean, there was everything to make someone nervous, but I focused on my process and on hitting good shots and on playing smart golf. I knew the front nine with today’s wind would play mostly into the wind, so pars were great. So I was happy with my score.”
After his victory, Molinari revealed his secret that helped him focus on his process and play more effectively and efficiently.
Molinari has been working with a British mental performance coach, Dave Alred, which has helped him focus under pressure, “He’s a personality and a figure that I was missing; I think he pushed [me] a little bit more.”
Molinari has learned he has choices on what to focus on: excuses vs. process.
You have the same choice every time you play a round of golf.
That’s right, you get to choose to focus on excuses (potential reasons you will be off your game)… Or you can choose to focus on “your process” (what you need to do in the moment to be on top of your game).
This choice is the most important choice you will make during the round, even greater than your choice of club or how you choose to play your shot. You can choose the right club but if you choose an excuse for why you won’t hit a good shot, you will be off every time.
The excuse game is a game that you cannot win. When fabricating excuses the cards are stacked against you and you complicate the game, making an already challenging game even more challenging.
If you want to win the battle within, the right choice to make is to focus on “your process”.
How to Avoid the Excuse Trap
First, you need to be aware of the excuses you typically make.
Review some of your past rounds and see if there are any common excuses that distract you.
Next, you need to catch yourself in the act of making excuses when playing.
The next step is important.
You must know your “process,” including a preshot routine, relaxation strategies, what to focus on, and how to re-focus when your mind drifts.
Just like Molinari, enlisting the help of a mental game coach is also a great way to help you improve your process.
Your choice will be the deciding factor in your golf game.
What will you choose?
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