Learn How To Play Calm Golf
Improve your golf performance by learning from Adam Scotts win at 2016 Honda Classic
Ask these 4 simple questions to keep your cool after a bad hole
Is there anything worse during a round of golf than a double-bogey? How about a triple-bogey or, even worse, the dreaded quad-bogey?
Bogeying can be devastating for some golfers creating as a wave of negative emotions and runaway thoughts that cascade through the mind. The rush of intense emotion that course through your veins and the self-critical thoughts that invade your mind make it feel that rebounding from a bogey is impossible.
How often has a double-bogey early in a round caused your level of play to quickly spiral downward? You become so focused on making up those strokes that you try too hard only to mishit more shots. Soon, you have added several bogeys to your collection and your round is ruined.
If you double bogey later in the round, you may feel that all your great work early in the round was wasted. You focus on this one less-than-perfect and disregard all the good shots you have made. You end up finishing the round on a sour note and it chips away at your confidence for the next round.
You need to protect your mindset against the negatives that can permeate your mind and sabotage your play. Golf is a game that you need to view in totality and not as a few isolated bad shots. It does not benefit you to give more weight to a bogey at the expense of a few birdies. For you to be great at golf you need to take the bad with the good while looking to build on the good.
The “thing” that allows you to move past a bogey is called perspective. Perspective is more useful than any club you carry in your bag or any other piece of equipment that you carry from hole to hole. Being able to take a Positive perspective allows you to sift through all the smoke and look objectively at the situation. This really helps to ground you in the present moment. Keeping things in perspective keeps you in the game.
Adam Scott: It’s a Matter of Perspective
Adam Scott won the 2016 Honda Classic with the help of outstanding play in rounds two (-5) and three (-4). Though Scott was in the zone during those middle rounds, he experienced a huge speed bump. On the 15th hole of Round Three, Scott quadruple-bogeyed on the par-3 hole breaking his streak of 37 straight bogey-free holes.
The score of 7 on a par-3 would probably cause most golfers to self-destruct but Scott didn’t allow one hole define his play for the tournament. Scott viewed the “quad” in conjunction with his overall play during the first three days of the tournament. Scott refused to allow the quad-bogey to cancel out all his great play during the tournament:
- Hitting every green through 13 holes
- Made seven birdies through 14 holes
- Turned a three-shot deficit at the start of Round Two into a three-shot lead
- Shooting 9-under through the first three rounds
How did Scott keep his quad-bogey in perspective?
First, Scott reminded himself that he has bogeyed in the past and recovered.
SCOTT: “I think I’ve experienced things along those lines plenty of times in this game.”
Second, Scott acknowledged that certain holes were more challenging than others. There are course conditions, bad weather and unlucky bounces that contribute to scores. No matter what, you must not allow one bad hole to dictate the rest of your round. You need to push forward.
SCOTT: “And you know, I really didn’t hit too many bad shots to make a 7. That’s how challenging holes like 15, 16 and 17 are. I ground out a four on 16 after a sloppy tee shot, and then came back to hitting really good shots on 17. It’s what you have to do to stay in golf tournaments. It could easily fall apart, and go from a commanding position to struggling to be in the tournament tomorrow. That’s what you have to do, just keep grinding until the round is over.”
Perspective allowed Scott to view his whole performance and not allow one hole to define him. Scott realized that golf is a marathon and it is important to keep yourself in contention mentally. Scott gave himself credit for his great play through the majority of the tournament and focused forward to the next task at hand.
SCOTT: “Well, I’m playing great. I have to say, I’ve played better every day this week, and it started pretty good. It’s disappointing not to have walked out of here and shot 62 or something like that but it might be tomorrow that I can do that.”
Last, Scott maintained a sense of humour during his seven stroke quad-bogey, that is, Scott laughed it off. If you can take yourself less seriously, a bad hole doesn’t become the end of the world.
SCOTT: “Well, what else can you do? It took me five goes to get a ball dry (laughs in the press room).”
A positive perspective helped Scott overcome his quad-bogey, quickly get back on track and win his first PGA Tour major since 2014 by 1-stroke.
SCOTT: “You can talk it in your head and try and build yourself up as much as you want. But at some point, you’re going to have to have the results to actually prove it.”
Scott is a great example of how your perspective, what goes on in your head and how you deal with adversity, puts you in the best position to succeed. Having the proper mindset keeps you in the game and allows you to take advantage of your abilities and produce the results you look to achieve.
Your perspective is your choice
While there isn’t much you can do about the hole you just played but there is something you can do about the next hole you play. Perspective is how you choose to see events and that choice will shape the current moment. You can choose to freak out about the last shot and that choice will negatively affect your next shot. A pessimistic perspective will create a domino effect of negative events that will trap and doom your performance.
If you choose a positive perspective, it doesn’t mean that you can’t learn from your bad shot. You have spent a lot of time and effort honing your craft and it’s hard when things don’t go as planned. A positive perspective means that you belief in your ability to bounce back and to learn from the past. A Quad-bogey can definitely teach you how to play that hole differently the next time but only if you change how you productively interpret events.
ACTION DRILL: 4 questions to play calm golf after a bogey hole:
A positive perspective helps stop you spiralling downward out of control. Instead of allowing the negative voices dominate the questions in your head, you can contemplate the following questions to keep you from straying down the path of self-destruction.
Is this really worth getting upset about?
Will getting upset benefit your play on the next shot? Will anger produce better results? How you look at things will form the emotions you experience. If you can remain calm and maintain a positive mindset after a bogey, you will put yourself in the best position to succeed on the next shot. Golf is a game of recovery, not perfection.
Am I really willing to throw the rest of the round away?
Unproductive reactions and negative thinking have a lasting effect. Being self-critical takes you out of your game for several holes. If you are upset that you gave up a couple of strokes on one hole, why on earth would you allow anger to add strokes onto your score for the rest of the round? A positive perspective helps you grind out the game and puts you in position to make the best possible next shot.
What will my response say about me?
Your reaction to bad shots will forge your legacy in the sport. The golfers who never move past cursing, yelling at themselves, smashing their clubs after a bad shot leave a permanent mark on their legacy. Wouldn’t you rather be remembered as the golfer who kept his composure, hit a great recovery shot, rose to the occasion and was a master of overcoming challenges? It really is up to you.
In the big scheme of things, how important is this one hole?
Of course you goal is not to add strokes to your score but, if you look at the big picture, it may not be as big as you think. Every golfer in the tournament will find themselves in tough spots, so basically you are in the same boat. If a round of golf is par-72 and you double-bogey, that is less than 3% of your game. Have perspective and keep in mind all the good shots you have made.
The game changes when you change your perspective… Your attitude determines your altitude!
How high do you want to take your game?
To further understand how your mental game affects your golf performance, why not take the 4 minute mental game assessment.
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