How to Move on From Bad Shots

How to Move on From Bad Shots

As a golfer, how quickly are you able to move on from your last shot?

In other words, when does the last shot end and the next shot begin?

This question is not as simple as it sounds. For example, after you sink a putt on the 8th hole, logically, the next shot is your tee shot on the 9th hole. That seems to make sense on the physical level. However, golf is much more than a physical game.

Within the physical game, the mental game significantly impacts your performance during competitive rounds.

You can probably think of many times when the memory of a bad decision, putt, or hole impacted your next shot.

Replaying a bad result can affect a golfer for several holes. If you cannot move on from frustration and anger, you carry mental baggage from shot to shot or hole to hole.

This mental baggage would be analogous to trying to swing your club with your golf bag still on your shoulder.

For example, would having your golf bag on your shoulder while playing stress your shoulder muscles? YES!

Would anger cause your shoulder muscles to become tense? YES!

Would golfing with your bag strapped to your shoulder throw off your mechanics? YES!

Similarly, would anxiety from the inability to release your last shot throw off your mechanics? YES!

The extra mental weight or inability to move on from your last shot interferes with your focus and ability to swing your golf club freely.

To play peak golf, it is necessary to quickly refocus on the task at hand.

The following refocusing strategy can be quickly implemented during a round with some training.

  1. Review – Quickly assess what happened during the last shot to determine if you can make an easy adjustment going forward. This step should take no longer than 15 seconds.
  2. Release – This is the transition phase in this refocusing strategy. This step involves letting go of a past outcome to clear your mind and focus forward.
  3. Reset – Identify your strategy for the next shot.

LPGA golfer Danielle Kang has a unique viewpoint regarding past outcomes.

In Round One of the 2024 T-Mobile Match Play, Kang carded a 5-under 67, making one bogey and six birdies. This performance marked her lowest round of the 2024 LPGA Tour season.

In her post-round interview, Kang was asked if her closing birdie would give her any momentum heading into the second round.

KANG: “Probably nothing since the round is ended… All I can do is stay in the present and, play my game and execute the shots and execute the way I normally do… For me, each shot and every hole, every day, doesn’t really mean as much as it used to. Like, who cares? I shot 5-under today, and then end of story, right? Until you get a new story tomorrow. Then you get a new shot tomorrow and then a new play tomorrow.”

Every shot you take is like a new chapter. Therefore, putting a finality on the last shot is essential for immersing yourself in the next shot

This approach will remove the burden of negative thoughts and unproductive emotions.

To swing the club freely, you must free your mind from over thinking, which includes any judgement about the last shot or hole. 

The Review, Release, Reset Strategy is a powerful tool for helping you focus during competitive rounds. If you commit to practicing this strategy daily, you will make big strides in being a composed golfer.

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Golfer’s Mental Edge 2.0

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