The Mental Game

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Coming off our first tournament in the Live Free Golf series, many of us  are probably scratching our heads. Since there can be only one winner, most of us are thinking to ourselves – what went wrong? It’s been said that golf is a game of inches, but also that it is played in the 6 inches between your left ear and your right ear. Putting together a complete round is an exhausting feat, and more so because of the mental up and downs throughout the round than from the swinging of the club and walking the course.

To bring good shots from practice on the range, to seeing them on the course takes more than repetitive practice. You also need a level of calm focus, and overall a sense of relaxation that at first is an odd pairing. You need to care enough about where each shot lands, and how that will effect your subsequent shot, but you can’t be married to your plan, because for amateur golfers things will rarely go as planned. Bad shots, bad bounces, and tough breaks are bound to happen. We have limited control where the ball goes, but we have full control of our mental preparation, and responses to these shots.

Keeping a tranquil mind, and a positive, yet steady resolve through an entire round of golf is not something people usually plan for. At Amherst, my tee shot on hole one was topped, luckily the gallery had mostly thinned out, and I was able to scramble and make bogey. Followed by a 10 on hole 2, and a birdie on hole three. Talk about ups and downs. The important thing is to not let the previous shot effect the next one.  My mistake was getting a little more tipsy than I had planned, and next thing you know you’re shooting 5 off the tee, after putting a couple into the trees. Don’t let frustration, or in my case sudden intoxication take you out of competition.

When thinking about your upcoming rounds of golf, don’t simply think about teeing off on hole 1. If it is a course you have played before, try to imagine what each hole looks like, and what normally happens to you on each hole. Is there a pond you always sink one into? Is there a sand trap, or woods you always have to get out of? Are you going to use a different club or strategy to avoid that? Mentally envision the entire round, and that will help you make the most of it. Golf is a long game, and if you prepare for it mentally by thinking of the entire round, that will help put you ahead of your friends on the scorecard at the end.

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