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By PGTAA member Dr. Patrick Cohn
What three mental components contribute most to playing your best golf?
Quite simply, the three most impactful to peak play are focus, focus and focus!
Bad shots, meltdowns, slumps and under performance are caused by a lack of focus or a misplaced focus.
If you cannot stay on task and regroup, you will not be able to play on with a calm mind.
A golfer who completed our Golf Mental Game Survey asked a common question:
"When I make a bad shot, how do I put it behind me fully and make a good shot next?"
Hitting a bad shot is not the problem. Have you ever played a round of golf without hitting a bad shot? No! Have you ever watched another golfer play a mistake-free round? No! Bad shots are part of the game.
Somehow, bad shots can stick around in your head for several holes or even the entire round. You can see images of yourself unraveling even before it happens.
You can feel the anxiety build. Your heart is pounding out of your chest. Already, you have several distractions competing for your attention. When you are focused on negative images, you cannot focus on setting up your next shot.
When you are focused on the feeling of anxiety, you cannot immerse yourself in the current shot. When you are focused on the last shot, you cannot focus on how you want to hit the current shot.
Putting the shot fully behind you requires you to focus forward. In other words, what do I need to do, how will I do it and when will I do it?
Focusing was the mental edge that Bryson DeChambeau needed to earn his first Master's tournament victory at the 2020 US Open.
Towards the end of his first round, DeChambeau displayed a moment of frustration exclaiming, "These greens suck. They're so bad."
So how did DeChambeau go from frustrated and tied for 14th place after Round One to carding a 3-under 67 and winning his first major championship? The difference lies in DeChambeau's ability to focus or, more specifically, refocus.
DeCHAMBEAU: "On 9 was when I first thought, 'OK, this could be a reality.' I made that long eagle putt and shocked myself making it, too. I thought to myself I could do it, and then immediately after I said, 'Nope, you gotta focus on each and every hole.' I just kept telling myself 'Nope, we've got three more holes, we've got four more holes, we've got five more holes.' Whatever it was, I just had to keep focused, make sure I was executing every shot the best I possibly could."
As you can see, your focus is a choice. To be in charge of your mental game, you must make a conscious choice to focus on your strategy, preshot routine or something that keeps you grounded in the present.
If get off task, you're responsible for refocusing attention to what matters: the current shot.
How to Refocus After a Poor Shot:
Start be being more aware of your triggers or mistakes that get your upset during the round.
What's the expectation you have about that bad shot? "I should never three putt from 20'." Replace with: "Even the best golfers three putt. I'm still a good putter."
Let go of the expectation that leads to your emotional turmoil. Remind yourself: "That shot is over. Let's get back on track. Focus."
Take control of your reaction to mistakes. You have the ability to choose how you respond to mistakes. Make the right choice! ... See MoreSee Less
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