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The Beauty of Bad Golf Shots

by Coach Stephen on

Today I am pleased to share with you a guest blog post from David McKenzie. David is a sharp guy, and just as much of a golf-nut as you Renegades. He ‘s created a website that brings together dozens of golf mental game coaches, where you can access a tremendous amount of valuable information, tips and tools… for FREE. You can find the link at the end of his post. I highly recommend checking it out.

[Enter David]

“I never learned anything from a match that I won” – Bobby Jones

Your reaction to the outcome of shots can be a major obstacle in getting better. We all hit shots that we don’t intend. It’s part of the game. But to call a shot bad, you have to judge it as so, which will affect how you play. The way to get better is to get to a point where you don’t even acknowledge shots as bad – you accept that they are part of the game and quickly put them behind you and move on to the next.

As Dr. Bob Rotella says “Golf is not a game of perfect.” Not even the best players in the world can hit every shot how they would like. Responding poorly to bad golf shots by getting angry, even just a little, can affect your mood for the next shot, which can then snowball into further negativity and loss of focus.

The best thing we can do is give every shot our best intention and manage our reactions. To play our best golf, we need a steady disposition: even the slightest bad reaction to a shot cause tension and loss of confidence. It’s also important to remember that mistakes indirectly make you a better player. If you can learn from your mistakes, you can become a better player each time you play. But do this reflection of your weaknesses after the round, not during. On the course, take a positive from EVERY shot and move on quickly. Try these techniques to calm your mind if you’re disappointed with a bad golf shot or bad hole:

Try to immediately focus on what you did well. Did you stick to your routine? Was your club-selection and strategy good even if the ball was off-line?

Try laughing! A good way to have less than perfect shots roll off is to just laugh about it.

Strike up a conversation with your playing partners.

Have a “go-to” subject you can take your mind after a shot you consider “bad”. This could be anything such as the number of trees you can name, the different types of birds you can hear, another hobby outside of golf, whatever it is, take your mind away from the game for a little while.

In your pre-shot routine: Tell yourself: “although I have a very positive intention for this shot, I will accept the result, good or bad and not have a negative reaction.”

Look up to the sky: the sheer magnitude of the open space above will quickly make you realize the insignificance of what just happened.

Tiger Woods has a “ten pace” rule where after he hits a shot that he did not intend, he gives himself ten paces in which to get over it. Just making that decision to do this will help you.

Have the shot be forgotten by a physical action that represents it, like putting the club back in the bag.

In golf, there really aren’t any bad shots. As Bobby Jones’ quote infers, you learn more from playing badly than by playing well, which is a good thing to remember when it’s not going so well out there.

After every round, you are a more experienced player, no matter how you play. Play with these things in mind and you’ll more easily deal with the adversities that a round of golf throws at you.

If you enjoyed this guest post, then definitely visit David’s Golf Mental Game Website HERE

Let’s recognize the opportunities in our bad shots… And Get After Old Man Par!

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{ 2 comments… read them below or add one }

mark marshall April 18, 2013 at

I run the junior clinic at my club in Nova Scotia and your golf training for juniors caught my eye. I use a George Knudson balanced swing philosophy (balanced swing/neutral grip). Can you send me some info on your program.

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Coach Stephen April 23, 2013 at

Hey Mark – Thanks for the comment all the way from Nova Scotia. I just emailed you directly about our Golf Training For Juniors System, and how it might be of benefit to your students.

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