Do you grind out each round? Do you try to keep your head deeply focused on golf
throughout the entire round? Or have you developed a way of snapping back into focus
for each shot?
How you use your time between shots and especially between holes has a very important
effect on your final score. Grinders try to stay totally focused during the entire
round. They think of nothing other than the next shot or hole. The problem with
being a grinder is that it is very difficult to pull off. Most people find that
they simply can not do it. Most golfers find that after eight or ten holes they
simply become exhausted and drained of energy. Because of this I do not recommend
that you even try to be a grinder. The grinders on the major tours tend to be grinders
only because they have never learned how to play any other way.
The question of how to develop the ability to snap back is an important one. Snapping
back means that you can really take your mind off the next shot until you need to
focus on the "planning" and then on the pre-shot routine. I like to separate out
the planning phase, which includes the gathering of facts on the hole, judging distance,
selecting the club and the swing, as well as the strategy for the hole and the selection
of the exact target spot, from the pre-shot routine, which includes visualizing
the path of the ball or recalling the feel of the shot, addressing the ball, step-breathing
and completing the swing or putt. Your snapping back ability depends on your ability
to refocus and let go of any unnecessary thoughts, images or feelings. I am sure
if a rattlesnake suddenly appeared at your feet you would have no trouble snapping
into focus about it. Some people can go as far as they like and still snap back
to the shot at hand. Others find it hard to think of anything other than the next
shot. Most golfers can improve their snapping back by practicing.
One way to practice is while you are at home pick up an object and really study
it. Notice how it feels. What is its weight? Is it rough or smooth? Move your hand
while holding the object. How does it feel? In this way you are bringing your focus
into the present and putting all of your attention on the one object. Set the object
down and think of a past experience or a recent TV show. Think about it and how
you felt in that situation. Now, bring your thinking and feeling back to the present.
Focus all of your attention on the current situation. Repeat this little exercise
until you can move freely back and fourth. After you have done this for fifteen
or twenty times. Move on to another object and practice again. After several sessions
begin to experiment at the practice range. Pick an exact target, decide how you
will hit the target, complete your pre-shot routine and hit the ball. Now, think
of a TV show or past non-golf event. Spend one whole minute thinking of the event.
Now, bring your mind back to the next shot. Plane the shot, complete your pre-shot
routine and hit. Do this exercise thirty to fifty times. Go slow and notice how
you can gradually make yourself snap back with greater ease.
Most people find that emotional topics or memories are harder to let go of. Learn
to select energizing, positive or enjoyable topics or memories to use during your
between hole thinking breaks. For between shot thinking on the same hole, most people
do best by staying mentally close to the current situation. But even here, you can
talk to yourself or others, think of music or recall a really great time playing
golf in the past. There are some people who can talk about anything and still find
it easy to snap back. Explore your limits and build up your abilities. Remember
that going inside and giving yourself a hard time is not a good place to go between
shots. If you have a habit of beating up on yourself, make sure you take your thinking
someplace else, even between shots.
Using the above suggestions you can learn how to not grind it out over the entire
course. Yet you will be able to refocus and set up a mental wall between yourself
and the current situation as well as the other golfers. You only need to focus when
you are gathering information, mentally separating yourself from the situation,
completing your pre-shot routine and executing a shot or putt.
Practice hard and enjoy the game.