Many of the articles I’ve done for this publication involve course management or at least touch on the importance of having good course management. However, recently I have experienced firsthand how much even better players overlook this part of their game.
One of my students was playing for the club championship two weeks ago and phoned me for “a few thoughts” to help him deal with the pressure of playing the 36-hole championship match. To make things even more difficult, he and his opponent despise each other for some reason no one knows. I can guarantee the only word spoken during their 8 hour match will be “good” when one gives the other a putt that’s hanging on the edge of the hole!
I had no great words of wisdom for him other than to play his own game. Play the game that got him to the finals in the first place and forget about trying to bury his opponent. If his opponent was in trouble, he could play more conservative and if he was down a few holes, don’t push. Patience!
Let the birdies happen for you and the bogey happen for him, but DON’T get caught up in your personal “grudge match”. This is a long match and the tide will flow back and forth.
He was 3 holes up after the morning 18, and then lost the first 2 holes in the afternoon. At that point his opponent made a comment to him and all he could think of was how badly he wanted to win and shove that trophy down someone’s throat! Winning didn’t matter, but beating the guy he was playing against became the most important thing in the world.
When I asked what happened all he could say was, “After that comment all I could think of was how much I wanted to beat him. I lost my discipline.”
A week later the PGA Latinamerica Tour was in Mazatlan. One of the players I work with was entered but hadn’t been playing much the past several months due to other commitments. The first round he turns in a 2 over par 74, and it looked like he would need something around even par or 1 under par the 2nd round to make the cut.
He asked for help and all I could think of was what happened the week before when I was asked for guidance. We had a similar conversation, be patient, let the birdies come, be patient, stay within yourself, no big swings, be patient.
He makes the turn at 2 under par for the day, even for the tournament. At that point the wind is starting to blow and the cut is at 2 over par – he has a 4 shot cushion with 9 holes to play. Pars on the first 5 holes of the back 9 and then it happens, out comes his big power/minimal control swing. The ball plugs in the lip of the fairway bunker with a terrible stance. The rest is ugly and he finishes with a 75 to miss the cut by 1.
What happened? According to him, “I lost my discipline”. He didn’t need to hit a big drive but playing into the wind seemed to trigger his big swing. He was past the tough holes and should have been able to coast in, but he lost his discipline.
If players the caliber of these two can lose their discipline, I guess it’s not so bad that most of the rest of us do, too. But, the problem is you don’t have to succumb to these outside agencies if you simply stick to a good game plan. You know when you are trying a low percentage shot so don’t be surprised if it doesn’t work.
If you’re having problems maintaining your discipline, go see your PGA Professional/Golf Psychologist for some help keeping your head in the game!
Kim Anders is a PGA Professional residing in Mazatlan, Sinaloa Mexico. You can reach Kim via email at email@example.com.