An 18-hole round of golf is more like a marathon than a sprint. Every time you play, you’ll encounter a stretch of shots or holes where nothing goes right and your score heads south. Don’t let it take your mind with it.
Because in-round slumps can’t be completely eliminated, the key is to limit their length and damage. Doing this means recognizing how you typically deal with on-course adversity.
Some players get angry, throw clubs and become so flustered they can barely see straight. Others head in the opposite direction, digging a deeper hole as they grow more and more dejected. In between these extremes lie emotionally neutral, analytical types, who remain poised while trying to figure out what’s wrong with their swings.
Hotheads and gloomy Gusses have the hardest time halting a sudden slide. Studious detachment has its downside, too. Let’s explore ways each personality type can better handle lapses on the golf course.
Deep breath. OK, let’s put things in perspective. You’re playing golf here, not chasing criminals or trading billions of dollars in stock. Nothing that happens on the course will seriously affect your life, let alone anyone else’s.
When you feel your temper start to rise, pause and take that big breath. Acknowledge the absurdity of getting so worked up over a silly game. Laugh at yourself, even if it’s on the inside. Wiggle your fingers, lightly shake your arms and gently rotate your neck to release tension.
Feel better? Good. Now forget your last slice or shank and focus on the next shot with a clear mind. If you slice it again, so what? It’s not like you lost a million bucks on a bad trade. Besides, even the best golfers have bad holes – bad days, too.
Here’s an article offering more tips for the temperamental golfer: Control Your Emotions, Control Your Game
The Gloomy Gus
So you chunked one into the lake and sculled your next shot over the green. Guess what? It doesn’t make you a bad person. It just means you’re about to make a triple-bogey.
Like Mr. Hothead, our Gloomy Gus must find proper perspective when his golf game sours. Instead of calming down, however, his way out requires perking up.
Lift your chin and drink in the beauty of your surroundings. Pretty nice, huh? Do a few jumping jacks or walk briskly to your ball to get the blood pumping. Now think about your most recent good shot, or the best shot you’ve ever hit on the hole you’re playing. Close your eyes and visualize repeating it this time. Then make it happen.
Rational types have the best chance of cutting a bad spell short. Being even-keeled, they’re less susceptible to swing-killing tension or debilitating despair. Problem is, they often over-think and fall prey to “paralysis by analysis.”
There’s nothing wrong with breaking down your bad swings in search of an answer. But one faulty fix usually leads to another, sending you further down the rabbit hole. Before long, you’ve got three, four or 10 swing thoughts in your head and you can’t even draw the club back.
Instead of endlessly chasing a technical solution, try the most basic approach in golf: “See ball, hit ball.” It’s as simple as it sounds. Banish all thoughts about the swing itself, focus on the back of the ball, and hit it.
There’s no guarantee you’ll like the results. But “see ball, hit ball” has remarkable swing-freeing powers that may well arrest your skid.
One final note that applies to all golfer types: Consider walking the course instead of riding a cart. When the inevitable bad spell strikes, the time and energy spent walking between shots helps Mr. Hothead calm down, helps Gloomy Gus cheer up, and gives The Professor a chance to sort through his thoughts.