Players at the highest level of the game understand the importance of a strong mental game, but it is an area of the game that can benefit us all.
Being strong mentally can save us shots, without any hard work on the range, it is a strength that can be learned and one that will improve your golf almost immediately.
I want to talk about a phrase that most have heard, yet like a lot of golf tips, many haven't implemented.
Aim small,miss small (Harvey Pennick calls this take dead aim, there are multiple variations of this).
Now we all understand and hopefully accept that a weekend golfer cannot possibly hit a target the size of a penny from 100 yards, but the necessity of aiming at something that small is very much something we can all achieve.
To better understand, take this scenario;
You are faced with an approach of 150 yards to an island green, good golfers will be aiming at a certain point somewhere on the green, and if they make a good swing they will not be too far away from their intended target.
Now let us imagine the same scenario for the weekend golfer facing the same shot. Those that are brave enough to go for the green will be thinking “just get it anywhere on the green”. The likelihood is that the ball will end up in the water……why?
It is quite simple when we think about it.
If you aim at a penny sized section of the green and you miss the penny by 2 yards you are sitting pretty on the green with a good opportunity to make a birdie.
If you aim at the whole green and miss the target by 2 yards your ball ends up in the water, and you will be cursing yourself for being an idiot all the way to the drop zone, which leads on to the next mental issue; anger or frustration.
Before we start I want to say that I want to see golfers getting angry or frustrated when they hit a poor shot, it shows passion and desire to improve, but it must end as soon as possible after the shot.
A fantastic way to do this is to allow yourself a very short period of time, during which you can be angry at yourself. How can you determine the time? Well, as soon as you wipe the dirt off the clubface you wipe away the immediate memory of the shot, and as soon as the club is back in the bag you begin to prepare for your upcoming shot.
The storing of the club can be a trigger to store, for analysis later, the poor shot.
It works to help you both on the golf course and then later to improve your game, as you can recall the problem shots to your pro in your next lesson and begin to work on eradicating them.
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