Golf In Never-Never Land!

By on 30th March 2016
Bad Grip

“Never say never!” How many times have we heard people say that? They say it because they think everything is subject to change and that very little is absolute or predictable. For some things, like the weather, that may truly be the case. But, if you want to play better golf and make steady progress, you need to entrench some mental absolutes and make a few more things much more predictable.

By using my Top-10 Never-Never list you can eliminate some of the highly controllable variables that cause poor play. With one or more of these out of the way, you can better concentrate on the not-so-easily-controllables, like swing changes. There is nothing worse in golf than making a poor shot and having absolutely no idea what went wrong! “Was it my posture or my takeaway? Did I have the right club? Was I really ready to hit it? Maybe it was that missed three-footer on the last green?”

Here’s an example. My client, Roger, a 10/11-handicapper who only broke 80 occasionally, was not aware he was often misaligned to the right, especially on approach irons. He lamented that unless his up-and-down game was great, he couldn’t score worth a darn! He had a pretty good swing, he practiced 1-1.5 hours per week, and he hit a lot of well struck shots but many were right of his target. To compensate, he started tinkering with his swing and, as you can imagine, things got horribly worse. When he came to me he didn’t know if his swing was wonky or if his alignment was off or whether he just was not cut out to play good golf!

After analyzing his situation, Roger made a pact with me that he would never hit a shot, on the course or the range, unless he was perfectly aligned. He knew how to get aligned, he just didn’t pay enough mental attention to it all the time for every shot. I monitored his new mental-check for alignment during a half-hour practice session and for six holes on the course, then he was on his own.

After three weeks Roger’s handicap was 6.8 and he was regularly scoring under 80. He said he felt far more confident on the golf course, that he got much more out of every practice, and that now he was really enjoying golf. And, he had just started working on a small swing change with his coach. Both of them were confident that his alignment was predictable and secure. Most important, Roger instantly knew when he missed one due to poor alignment and how to adjust on the course. He said, “Now golf is fun, not worrisome.”

Here’s the thing – – all of this happened because Roger made a promise to himself to never hit a shot without being properly aligned. Nothing else changed. While it sounds simple and it is when executing one individual shot, it takes considerable mental discipline and practice to get it right for an entire round. It’s not rocket science but it is hard work.

Here’s my Top-10 Never-Never list. These are the ten most easily controlled parts of golf that cause a lot of poor play. Pick one that applies to your game and implement it for all shots. By eliminating one of these controllables you can play more confidently and work on other parts of your game without worrying. This approach gives you an immediate and significant mental edge over many other players – most don’t do this at all!

NEVER-NEVER hit a shot . . .

  1. . . . without confidence in your yardage.
  2. . . . without confidence in your target.
  3. . . . without confidence in the club selected.
  4. . . . without using your pre-shot routine.
  5. . . . without being correctly aligned.
  6. . . . while thinking about your next or previous shot.
  7. . . . you have not recently practiced.
  8. . . . without completely trusting your abilities.
  9. . . . without being absolutely decisive about the shot.
  10. . . . until you are ready.

Every golfer can implement all of these mental-check techniques, but it takes discipline and practice and dedication. Based on the mental progress of my clients, I am confident you will play better and score lower. As another of my clients said, “If all I do is eliminate one of my never-never mental lapses, I have won the day.”

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Alan Edmunds, PhD is a golf sports psychology researcher, writer and was the head coach of women's golf program at the University of Western Ontario for 7 years. He has helped top amateurs and university teams develop the finer mental aspects of the grand old game. His book "Golf on Auto Focus: Training Your Brain to Better Your Game" addresses some of the most puzzling psychological elements of golf. Many of his clients comment that his golf psychology seminars are engaging, humorous and practical.

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About Dr Alan Edmunds

Alan Edmunds, PhD is a golf sports psychology researcher, writer and was the head coach of women's golf program at the University of Western Ontario for 7 years. He has helped top amateurs and university teams develop the finer mental aspects of the grand old game. His book "Golf on Auto Focus: Training Your Brain to Better Your Game" addresses some of the most puzzling psychological elements of golf. Many of his clients comment that his golf psychology seminars are engaging, humorous and practical.

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