Director of Instruction
Fisher Bryan Golf Academy at Longbow Golf Club
In my opinion, you can separate most people in the world into three very broad and general personality groups; idealists, realists and pessimists. Which of these categories you fall into can change your golf game!
First we need to know the traits of each category. The idealist sees that everything is always going to work out well for them. In relation to their golf game that means that because they have pulled this shot off once in their history they can easily do it any time they are faced with that situation. They do not remember the many times faced with that same shot they have ended up with bogey or worse.
The pessimist is the guy who always thinks things will go against them. As it pertains to their golf game, nothing is ever quite good enough no matter where the ball finishes up. For them, dissatisfaction is a way of life. The pessimist also has a warped sense of reality when it comes to what success really is in relation to a golf shot.
The problem I see is that most golfers would be much better off if they fell into the least populated category, realists. A realist sees both sides of the equation, the good results as well as the bad. They can then make a much more informed decision as to the path they should take with any given golf shot. Most golfers think this means to “play safe” but I disagree. I think it means to understand where and how often hazards arise and how to create a game plan that allows for opportunity without harm.
The idea of playing this way has gained some notoriety lately because some top Tour players have adopted this mindset, but this is not a new idea. This is simply knowing oneself as a golfer and performing in a manner that takes that into consideration. At the start of any new lesson I ask the student what club they have in their hand and how far they typically hit that club. Almost always the answer starts with,”Well I can hit it….” But I didn’t ask how far you CAN hit it, I asked how far you DO hit it and that is where realism comes into play.
For every golfer I coach I ask myself two things, what is costing them strokes and where can they gain strokes back? Almost always part of the answer is that they are attempting to hit shots either they are not capable of hitting or that they simply do not need to hit. An 18 handicap player does not need to hit a 3 wood for a second shot on a par 5 because he is trying to reach the green in two. The average golfer does not need to try and float a lob wedge in close to a pin tucked tight over a bunker.
I have watched golfers at every level for years throw away unnecessary shots. I have spoken with, learned from and worked with some great coaches both technical and performance. There are not many guarantees in golf or life but I know this as a fact. Playing in this manner will lower any golfer’s scoring average without changing their technique a bit. So which would you rather do, spend hours and hours on the range trying to change a pattern that has been ingrained over years and years, or simply look at a course in a different way? For my money, it is easier to get someone to think differently than to swing differently.
Be a realist. Understand what you can reasonably expect from your current technique and maximize it. Don’t expect more but also don’t expect less. And if your curiosity is peaked about what you can actually achieve with a better mindset, then let me caddy for you for a quick round and see how low you can go!
Jeff Fisher is Director of Instruction at the Fisher Bryan Golf Academy at Longbow Golf Club. Jeff can be reached at 480.414.9330 or firstname.lastname@example.org.