When Golfers Are ‘Firing on All Cylinders’

Embrace the Challenges on the Course

What is the difference between ‘smooth sailing’ and ‘firing on all cylinders’?

Sometimes golfers use the terms ‘smooth sailing’ and ‘firing on all cylinders’ interchangeably, but there is a big difference.

The ‘smooth sailing’ mindset means that conditions are near perfect on the golf course; no wind, low humidity, low to mid 80-degree temperature, predictable greens and hardly any competition from other golfers.

You may believe these near perfect conditions lead to peak performance, but rarely will you play at your peak when you face minimal obstacles.

Firing on all cylinders does not mean smooth sailing or minimal obstacles. The ‘firing on all cylinders’ mindset means rising to the challenges that present themselves during a round of golf.

When you are firing on all cylinders, you are fully focused, confident, energized, excited and motivated to meet the challenges on each shot.
The difference between the ‘smooth sailing’ mindset and the ‘firing on all cylinders’ mindset boils down to one thing: expectations.

If you expect smooth sailing to be the only condition that leads to peak performance or you believe conditions need to be perfect, you will panic when you are faced with difficulty on the golf course.

For example, when the golfers in your group are shooting low scores, you’ll put extra pressure on yourself to keep up with the group. One shot into a bunker could be the circumstance that will send your game spiraling downward.

On the other hand, when you have a ‘firing on all cylinders’ mindset, you are excited for the challenges during a round of golf and know that meeting these challenges will put you in position to play at your peak.

Instead of worrying about messing up, you go for each shot.

Each shot presents its own little challenge and you are focused on that shot alone. If the ball lands in the bunker, you reset and look for the best way to play that shot.

You don’t need to be perfect; you just need to be focused to be firing on all cylinders.

Webb Simpson was firing on all cylinders when he won the 2020 RBC Heritage Tournament by finishing at 22-under 264 to break by two shots the tournament record set in 2009.

By no means was Simpson’s victory smooth sailing. Simpson had to wait through a three-hour storm delay and compete with nine players in contention during the final day of the tournament.

Simpson’s ‘firing on all cylinders’ mindset was the difference-maker in the tournament.

SIMPSON: “I think it’s a good thing that guys were making birdies because they kind of forced me to be a little more aggressive and know that pars weren’t going to cut it.”

If you shrink from challenges, your game will suffer. It is only when you are excited to rise to the challenge that you play your best golf.

Playing with a ‘Firing on All Cylinders’ Mindset

Embrace the challenge of difficult holes and shots when you play. Love the challenge of trying to make par after a bad shot on the hole.

Can you look at mistakes and missed shots as an opportunity to rebound on the hole or on the next hole?

And when you are playing well, take advantage of it. Instead of protecting your score or lead in the match, continue to play aggressive golf.

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