Golfers are not consistent in how they approach shots on the course. Many golfers don’t go through a proper mental routine before they hit a shot. The easiest way to make the proper decisions on the golf course is to go through a 4 step routine to guarantee that you are focused.
Step One- Approach shot and take in the entire environment. This includes the lie of the ball, the yardage, wind, hazards, and the intended target. This is classified as broad/external focus. This is where the golfer takes in a lot of information and observes what is in front of him.
Step Two- This step requires the golfer to analyze the environment. Making a decision requires to know your strengths and weaknesses to determine the best shot at that time. I teach my students to come up with a ‘hard’ yardage. This is what the shot actually plays after analyzing all the environmental factors. Too many golfers don’t properly make the right choice because they rush this step. They may generalize the decision instead of focusing on the exact shot they want to hit. If the hard yardage is 156 yards to the target and you guess 145 because you don’t take into account the elevation of the shot then your results will suffer.
Step Three- This is where you put your decision to the test of feel. This is where you place your focus on choosing the club and the type of shot you want to play. The question asked here is, what is the shot that I am most confident playing in this situation? Describe the exact shot you want to play. If the shot requires a ¾ 6 iron then commit to that decision. The next part of this step is to rehearse the shot exactly how you want to execute it. I see too many golfers take a practice swing that doesn’t resemble how the actual shot is going to be played. The practice swing should create a feeling of the shot. Take that feeling to the next step which is execution.
Step Four- Now your focus goes to a specific target. At this stage you are actually hitting the shot. If you have completed the first three steps correctly then you will be able to trust the shot. Your focus stays on an external target and you want to execute by just letting go. Always focus on what you want the shot to do, not on where you don’t want the shot to go.
The four steps of focus can be boiled down to:
1. Observe your environment.
2. See the shot you want.
3. Feel the shot you want.
4. Trust the shot by letting go and focusing on the target.
Rick Sessinghaus, Psy.D, PGA is the author of Golf: The Ultimate Mind Game. To learn more about how to improve your mental game visit www.MZCoach.com and www.RickSessinghaus.com.