Following is a list of some productive thoughts for the course. Pick the two or three that you feel are the most relevant to your game and focus on these throughout your round. This will help you stay focused on the process of playing the game instead of worrying about the impending results. Have fun and enjoy your day! Dr Mo
- There are only 3 types of shots – Quality shots, acceptable misses, and poor shots. Focus on hitting quality shots and just see how many of these you can hit throughout the day.
- Tell yourself what a putt IS in terms of 1 – distance, 2 – slope, and 3 – break (i.e. 20-foot downhill, left-to-right putt) not what it’s FOR in terms of score (i.e. 20-foot downhill, left-to-right putt for birdie). Describe the putt physically, not emotionally.
- After a missed or poor shot, say out loud an Immediate Positive Reaction (Give me a good lie, Get a good bounce, etc.). This helps you stay future focused, not past focused.
- If you take practice swings, make them realistic. Do not make practice swings that are too hard or that are a continuous motion – they are not productive for the upcoming shot. Each practice swing should have a definite beginning and end and have a similar tempo for the shot being played.
- You will find what you wait on. Wait on good things to happen (making a long putt, holing out, chipping in, etc.), not poor ones (duck hook, 3-putt, etc.).
- On the golf course you can change your tempo (slow down), but do not change your golf swing or your swing-thought. Only change these on the range. The closest you can come to changing your golf swing on the course is to change the shot you are hitting (if you normally play a draw and you can’t improve it by tweaking your tempo, hit a fade or a punch-shot).
- Use a physical boundary (edge of the green, putting your club back in your bag, etc.) to help you stay mentally composed. You are allowed to be upset/frustrated before you have reached the boundary, but once you do, stop, take a few deep breaths, remind yourself golf is still a game, and then proceed. This will help you limit one poor shot from carrying over to another.
- Your vision should always “match” the shot. For full shots, your vision should be at the target or beyond (tree in the distance). For partial shots, your vision should be at the target or before (i.e. a landing area). Since everything goes through your eyes and into your mind, and your mind tells your body what to do, how you process the golf course visually has a direct impact on how well your body performs.
- Put simply, if you can’t aim, you can’t score. Therefore, getting properly aligned to your target should be the first consideration once you walk up to the ball. To get properly aligned, first align the club as it is behind the ball to your target. Then separately align your feet to the clubhead. Trying to align both the club and your feet at the same time promotes a comfortable set-up but in most cases poor aim.
- If you feel like you are moving your head or “peeking” over short-game shots, see where the ball “was” (after the club contacts the ball). This will allow you to focus on a visual aspect of playing instead of a mechanical one. Great vision promotes playing while mechanics often promotes over-thinking.
- Always think of where you want to hit your ball (which is specific) versus where you don’t want to hit it (which is too general). Thinking of where you don’t want to hit it (water on the left) leaves open the option to hit it to an equally bad location on the “opposite” side (severe bunkers on the right).
Following is a list of some productive thoughts for you to have on the greens. Pick the two or three that you feel are the most relevant to your game and focus on these with your putting. This will help you stay focused on the process of putting instead of worrying about impending results. Have fun and enjoy your day! Dr. Mo
Pre-Putt Thoughts (behind the ball)
- Tell yourself what a put IS in terms of 1 – distance. 2 – slope. and 3 – break (i.e. 20-foot downhill, left-to-right putt) not what it’s FOR in terms of score (i.e. 20-foot putt for birdie). Describe the butt physically, not emotionally.
- It makes no difference how the ball arrived at this location on the green. When you have a 6-foot, uphill, left-to-right putt it remains the same regardless of how it came to rest there. A 6 foot “left over” from a poor first putt is the same as a 6 footer from a miraculous 3-iron out of the woods over water. A putt is a putt. Just go hit it.
- Pick spots or paths to putt to, but not both. If you visualize a ball rolling down a path to the hole, then don’t focus on the left edge or two cups out. Just keep the ball rolling down the path. If you don’t visualize a path, then pick a specific target (i.e. old pitch mark) equidistant with the back of the hole (or in the back of the hole) and putt the ball along a straight line to that point. Either way of “seeing” puts can be productive, but doing both will lead to inconsistency.
- Your focus and evaluation should be centered around hitting a quality putt, not making the putt. If you hit enough quality putts, the majority of them will be made. Let the ball go in the hole. Don’t try to force it in.
Putting Thoughts (Walking into or at the ball)
- Your walk into the ball sets the tempo for your stroke. Walk in slow and smooth and your stroke will be slow and smooth. Walk in fast and jerky and your stroke will be fast and jerky.
- If you take practice strokes, make them realistic. Do not make practice strokes that are too hard or that are a continuous motion – they are not productive for the upcoming putt. Each practice stroke should have a definite beginning and end and have a similar tempo for the putt being played.
- If you feel like you are moving your head or “peeking” over putts, see where the ball “was” (after the club contacts the ball). This will allow you to focus on a visual aspect of putting instead of a mechanical one. Great vision promotes playing while mechanics promotes over-thinking and loss of feel.