Golf is a game where score is how we judge our performance. Yet often that mentality can cause us to be more concerned about the outcome than the value of keeping ourselves in the task of executing the next shot as well as possible.
Why do we tend to do this and how should we think and place our focus for best results?
Case in point I had the pleasure of working with a 16 year old junior golfer named DJ who was playing golf for his high school team. Three weeks of focus on his swing fundamentals resulted in him striking the ball extremely well. DJ was getting close to shooting par or better. But the following Friday afternoon he was struggling greatly. DJ’s consistent, smooth, rhythmic swing looked like a scene from Gladiator as he slashed at each ball with rapid fire pace spraying the range with miss-hits. What was up with this kid? He had a tournament the next day. The anxiety of this event had changed his calm and confident vibration into frenzied doubt.
At the time, his lowest tournament score was an 83. I was aware DJ was experiencing a common case of “score-bound-itous” so even thinking about the tournament round was causing him to over process due to fear he would “look bad” or shoot a high score. My first suggestion was to teach DJ how to calm him-self down. Heart coherence breathing began to relax his over-firing neuron activity. We had already established his thought process and pre-shot routine, and reminded him of the importance of doing so with every shot.
The final suggestion was to play the dot game. “What is this”, he asked. “It’s a different way of keeping track of your performance. Instead of focusing on pars and birdies or others, you keep track of dots,” I replied. “Every fairway hit, you get a dot. When you hit a green in regulation you get a dot. And when you make a one putt, no matter what your score, you get a dot. Focus not on the score but making dots until you run out of dot opportunities,” I said. He agreed to give it a try and left encouraged with his new outlook.
The next time I saw DJ he was sporting an ear to ear grin. “I shot a 69 on Saturday!” he excitedly shared. “WOW! How well did you strike it?” I asked. Pondering for a moment, DJ answered, “Good, but not great. I just did what you suggested, focused on every shot to get a dot and did this until I played through every opportunity.”
DJ’s success was a result of him focusing on the potential opportunity of each shot, one dot at a time, freeing him from getting ahead or behind. This young man’s breakthrough allowed him to bypass the 70’s altogether!
I hope you take away from this Blog, that when you calm down the things you want to happen come much faster and easier than ever before. The goal should be to use The Pro’s Secret: One shot at a time taking advantage of every dot opportunity. Try the Dot Game during your next round of golf and I welcome you to share your breakthrough with me!
Until next time, happy golfing,
A Top 100 Teacher by Golf Magazine and PGA class-A Professional, Brad successfully competed on the Austral-Asian PGA Tour and Hogan/Nike Tours, developed the training curriculum for high-performance juniors at Saddlebrooke Preparatory and applies these experiences to his teaching and coaching at Rosen Shingle Creek in Orlando. Brad was awarded the North Florida PGA Teacher of the Year and Junior Golf Leader of the Year, Edwin Watts Golf Top Instructor Award, along with the honor of Top 50 Instructor in Florida by Golf Digest.