I have been working with a young man who is aspiring to get on the PGA LatinoAmerican Tour. He hasn’t played very long but is very talented and I have no doubt he is capable of qualifying for that tour.
The problem is he has a difficult time playing in tournaments due to his lack of tournament experience. He regularly shoots 2 to 4 under par (or more), but when a tournament rolls around he can shoot anything from a few under to “the sky’s the limit”!
Sound familiar?? Sure it does. It doesn’t matter if you’re playing your buddies for a beer, the club championship, or the US Open. When you feel pressure and need to perform our thought process, grip pressure, and swing mechanics change.
Swing mechanics – I hate that term. As important as swing mechanics are to your golf swing, they aren’t necessarily something you want to be focusing on when you “gotta get it done”!! And, that was my guy’s problem.
Like most of us, when the pressure was on, his hands got tighter on the club and he started “seeing the bad places on the course”. As he put it, “I have no idea where the club is or what my body is doing”.
I ask him what he does when he’s just out playing, working on his game. What does he do when he is working on scoring well, when he is playing his best golf? I tell him not to say a thing, just think about it. He looks at me for a moment, frowns, then settles back into his chair and stares off into space.
For the next several minutes, maybe 5 or 6 minutes, he stares at various invisible spots around the room. His expression varies between confused, understanding, enlightened. Then, for the first time since the exercise started, he looks at me, smiles, and says, “Are you ready?”
He tells me he knows how to hit a golf ball, how to shape shots and control trajectory. He sees what is needed given the situation, practice swing to produce the shot, and, “Then I just do it. I never think about mechanics when I play. Maybe a position or move we may have been working on, but never really the swing. I just do it. I know how to hit the shot, I just trust myself and do it”.
I couldn’t help but smile. I guess he has been paying attention! So why don’t you do that when you are playing competitively? “I think I just get caught up in all the distractions – being serious, the seriousness of it all.”
It doesn’t matter how much you are playing for. What matters is staying in the moment, doing what you do when you play your best. Give yourself the absolute best opportunity to produce a good shot. And the way you do that is by doing the same thing you always do. The same routine.
Everyone hits bad shots – it’s part of the game. When you hit a bad one, go find it and give it your best. That’s what the players on TV do. Good enough for them should be good enough for us.
No changes in your routine. No changes in your swing. No changes in your thought process. Just do what you always do when you are playing well. Trust it and just do it!
Kim Anders is a PGA Professional residing in Mazatlan, Sinaloa Mexico. You can reach Kim via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.