When you have to assemble the latest appliance that has arrived in a box, do you begin assembling, and look at the directions later, or do you look at the directions then begin to assemble? We each may have a different method to achieve the goal, yet everyone will probably agree that the directions have a purpose of helping you assemble the appliance successfully. Do you want to lower your golf score? Here are 3 simple directions to create lower scores, even if your skill level remains the same. Are you ready to follow the directions?
Direction #1: Only attempt shots that you can comfortably execute at least 60% of the time. If you can drive the ball into this narrow fairway 2 out of 10 times with your driver, yet you can keep in the fairway 6 out of 10 times with your 5 wood. Use your 5 wood. With a higher percentage shot, your body is more comfortable, your confidence level is higher, and your chances of hitting a solid shot is significantly higher. The impact of the previous shot has a big influence on your next one. Isn’t it easier to maintain a solid rhythm when your previous shot was a solid, smooth and well hit 5 wood, compared to a nervously executed drive that sliced into the rough? Using the 5 wood off the tee may not be the best thing to impress your playing partners that you are “the man” who should be entered into the Long Drive contest, yet it will bring you satisfaction at the 19th hole when you are adding the scores. A major trap for golf players is trying to make up a stroke following an errant shot. If you drive into the rough and you have some obstacles between your ball and the hole, many players will try a low percentage; miracle shot that gets on the green. If you confidently pull this shot off over 60% of the time, go for it. If not, punch out safely onto the short grass. The biggest obstacle to faithfully following the 60% rule is an ego. How would you assess the control of your ego on the course?
Direction #2: Stay on the Short Grass as much as possible. This seems to be very obvious, yet it is not as obvious as it appears. You will score better hitting a lesser club, and staying in the fairway off the tee box, than if you use more club, and inconsistently get your drive into the fairway. Statistics are very clear about the correlation between fairways hit on tee shots, and lower scores. The fairway decreases significantly the chances of miss hitting, takes out the possibility of any major obstacles, and eliminate the chances of penalty strokes due to hitting out of bounds or into a hazard (few exceptions). Psychologically, the fairway increases confidence, promotes rhythm, and increases the ability to execute accurate shots. The next level is getting on the shorter grass or putting green. If you are ever hitting an approach shot that is between clubs, pick the one that will safely get you on the green. For the majority of players, putting accuracy is much higher than chipping accuracy of the same distance, so play to the short grass.
Direction #3: Increase your focus on WHERE you want to hit it, and decrease your focus on HOW you want to hit it. Focus on your target; get obsessed with the end destination of your shot and you will score better than if you are mentally concentrating on how you want to hit the shot. If you are absorbed in the mechanics and techniques of the shot, you loose your target consciousness, and your intensity for the target begins to disappear. When you loose your intensity of your target intension, you also loose the control of the flight of the ball. Do not misunderstand me in saying that the mechanics and techniques are not important. I will be the first to say that you need to develop great mechanical skills and techniques, yet this is the work reserved for the practice tee and golf instruction. When you are out on the course, it is the time to let the analysis go, and get focus on hunting down the target and scoring.
I challenge you to play 2 or 3 rounds following these 3 simple instructions, and I’ll bet your scores will improve. Let me know how things turned out!
Dean Sunseri, MA, MEd, is a specialist in Sports Performance Counseling and has coached Golf Tour Professionals, NFL Football Players, Professional Baseball Players and Professional Hockey Teams. He can be contacted at email or 225-290-7252.