Mondays With Mike Bradshaw: Shaking Off the Bad Shots

The most important shot in golf is the next one—Ben Hogan

That’s the understatement of the century.  Golf is the shortest-term rental you’ll ever see–players at all levels can literally have it figured out one second and then it’s completely gone in the blink of an eye.

Its important to shake off the bad shots. PHOTO: Brandon Anderson/Flickr Commons

This is especially true in tournament golf. 

Everyone is going to hit a bad shot or two (or ten??) but the key to this game is how the player reacts to the bad shot.  Does he go into a “funk” and stay down on himself and let it effect the rest of the round and/or tournament?  Or does he “shake it off” and get back to focusing completely on the next stroke he makes?

The difference in these two answers can be night and day for a player at any level.  And, ultimately, can be the wall that prevents a player from improving his/her game and getting to that next level.

So how does a player make sure that he/she can “shake it off” and follow a horrific golf shot with a truly great one?  Well, while there are a ton of different philosophies out there but I think almost all of them would contain these keys:

  1. Make sure you warm-up before your round.  While it may only be a handful of swings that you can get in, at least you should have an idea of  what “swing” you have today–draw or slice, high or low, etc.  This will be important when you have to fight back from a poor shot later in the round.
  2. Visualize.  Virtually 100% of the best players say that they can “see” the shot before they hit it.  They picture the shot they want to hit in their mind, then depend on their “muscle-memory” to get them there.
  3. Expectations.  Play the percentages.  I’ve seen thousands of rounds over the years ruined by a player trying to play the shot they’ve got a 1,000-1 chance of pulling off.  Take the risk only when absolutely necessary—otherwise play the high percentage shot and get to the green as quickly (shot-wise, not time-wise) as possible

It’s just little things like this that keep a round from falling apart–and help you keep your scores lower when faced with adversity. 

Keep your “memory” of bad shots on the course “short-term” and you’ll be on your way to less of them–and lower scores ….

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