How to Recover from a Bad Hole

How many times has golf frustrated you to the point of never wanting to play again?

Golf is a crazy game, unlike any other sport. No two shots are ever the same.

In football, the field dimensions are consistent from stadium to stadium. In golf, the distance for each hole differs depending on the course.

In baseball, the field is flat. In golf, courses are designed with bunkers, sand, water, hills, and trees.

On a basketball court, surface conditions are relatively similar. Golfers contend with varying course conditions depending upon the grass and pitch of the greens.

To say golf can be downright maddening is an understatement.

In our Mental Game of Golf Survey, a golfer expressed the frustration experienced by many others while playing a round:

“I was playing the best round ever with a run of 3 birdies and two pars. On the next hole, I shot an eight on a par-5 after landing the ball in a sand trap. After seeing the ball in an unkempt sand trap, I was disappointed the sand wasn’t soft.”

“I took two to get out of the trap and hit the ball into very heavy rough. I psyched myself out. I blamed the management for not maintaining the traps right. But still, I should have focused better and been more confident. The situation played me instead of me playing the situation. How can I better handle those situations differently?”

Recovering from big numbers is challenging. You were playing out of your mind, literally. Then one shot changed everything! 

However, it wasn’t the one shot that affected your game. The difference was your reaction to the shot, “Why does management neglect course conditions? If the course were in better shape, I wouldn’t have shot an eight and ruined my day.”

The key is to manage your reaction before frustration spirals out of control. Instead of paying attention to the result of the shot, refocus on how to play the next shot.

It may not be easy, but you do want to get “out of your head” and start a new streak of great shots.

After winning the 2022 CJ Cup, Rory McIlroy rose to the No.1 ranking for the first time since 2020. Throughout the season, McIlroy played consistent golf with three wins and nine top-10 finishes in a stretch of 15 tournaments.

How has McIlroy maintained a consistent run in 2022? The key to McIlroy’s play is how he thinks about the game.

McILROY: “I never feel like I’ve figured this game out. I don’t think I ever will figure it out, but every day I wake up trying to get closer.”

Golf is not about “figuring out the game” but how to play the current shot. Thinking one shot at a time simplifies the game and allows you to refocus and reset after each shot.

The first mistakes that golfers make when playing well is to judge they are playing well, which can jerk you out of the zone.

We often find that golfers who are playing better than expected during the round, can look for that one hole to blow up the round. This leads to tentative play.

One bad hole does not mean it’s a bad round all of a sudden. Stay aggressive when playing well. If you have one bad hole, keep trying to make birdies instead of dwelling on that one hole.

Golfer’s Mental Edge 2.0

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Do you suffer from fragile self-confidence after missed hitting shots or making mistakes, playing with strict or high expectations that undermine confidence, or the inability to play freely and relaxed on the course?

If you lack focus, have low self-confidence or other mental game obstacles on the course, you cant reach your true golf potential…

Successful golfers have learned how to perform with ultimate confidence in competition, so we’ve developed The Golfer’s Mental Edge 2.0 Workbook and Audio program to help you do this! 

The Golfer’s Mental Edge 2.0 program includes the top 11 mental training sessions I do with my personal students to help them boost their mental game and improve consistency on the course.

The Golfer’s Mental Edge 2.0 audio program includes 11 confidence-boosting CDs, MP3 audio recordings, and an 8-session golfer’s mental edge workbook–plus several bonus programs. Available Now!

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