MONDAY MIND FACTOR MISSIVE!!
IS ANY OF THIS HOLDING YOU BACK??
It is not always the obvious factors that keep our game stuck.
How well do your regular playing partners know your game? My guess is quite well. They’ll know if you are long off the tee, a demon out of the sand or dodgy over three-footers. You will also be aware of their strengths and weaknesses.
Strange to relate, but such knowledge is the foundation of one of the key reasons we struggle to improve. The vast majority of club golfers spend most of the year playing the same course with the same golfers, and it doesn’t take long for the way you play to more from a reputation, through an expectation and finally into a pattern.
We underestimate the effect of people around us. Play the same course with the same people throughout the season and you will almost fall into a level of play that is expected of you. If your partners know you’re a dodgy chipper, you will feel more pressure over the next one; if they know your bogey hole, you’ll be reminded of it on the tee. Every negative aspect of your game becomes reinforced. It binds your story and your level becomes ingrained.
I don’t want you to disown your friends, and of course, you should keep playing in your preferred social group. But if you’re serious about improving with the time you have left this season, make a commitment to having a different playing experience a couple of times a month. Ideally, enter a competition with new and better players, but also play on another courses. Get yourself out of your comfort zone and you give yourself an option to the familiar environment that breeds the same old behaviours and levels of play.
However earnest you are about making genuine progress with your game this year, there are two other aspects of the game that can keep you pinned to your level. Watch for these two traps in the months ahead:
1 PINNING YOUR HOPES ON ‘CONSISTENCY’
One of the most common aspirations for a golfer is ‘I just want to get more consistent this year’. The trouble with this sort of thinking is that is sets up an unrealistic expectation. Much as we’d like it to be serene, golf is a chaotic game. We can par the first five holes, playing beautifully, then hit one sideways off the sixth tee. If you’re chasing consistency, what you’re basing your game on instantly shatters. It’s such a jolt to the system that it can take you half the round to get back on track.
This lesson was demonstrated perfectly by emerging American Justin Thomas early in the year at the Tournament of Champions. Playing beautifully, he suddenly hit a poor patch, horribly fat-hooking an iron into the hazard for a double bogey on 15. “I told myself, there’s no reason to lose concentration or confidence just because of a couple swings,” he revealed after victory. Sure enough he responded by hitting his best shot of the week, a 214-yard approach to three feet on 17 to win by three. “He didn’t even flinch,” said his caddie Jimmy Johnson. “He didn’t say anything. He just keeps playing now.”
You’ll make much more progress if you commit to embracing the chaos. Every round you play will have one or two little storms in it, a sudden spell where you start hitting it awfully. I’m not asking you to like it, but accepting it as part of the game and grinding through it will prove far more fruitful than having to deal with the despondency that comes with the realisation you still haven’t found ‘consistency’.
2 PLAYING A LOOSE TEE GAME
Tour coach, Peter Kostis once said: “Your tee shots will determine how high your score is; your greenside shots will determine how low your score is.” It’s a wise comment. The opportunities for big numbers come about through lost balls and Out of Bounds, which most commonly come from the tee shot. Statisticians can back up how costly a loose tee game is.
So I know it may sound obvious but get a handle on your driving. Monitor your drives for the next five rounds, grading the results into 1 (fairway and semi), 2 (thick rough) and 3 (unplayable, lost ball, OB). Invest in a launch monitor driver fitting. Find out exactly what your impact conditions are. What do you actually DO with the driver on a regular basis?
Get the ball under control off and you can set yourself up for some real progress.
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Hope you find this Monday’s Mind Factor Missive useful!