5 Strategies to Lower Your Golf Handicap
“The whole secret to mastering the game of golf — and this applies to the beginner as well as the pro — is to cultivate a mental approach to the game that will enable you to shrug off the bad days, keep patient and know in your heart that sooner or later you will be back on top.” — Arnold Palmer
Take care of the “space in front” of the round
Often it’s the most simplest things we needed reminding of and this is one of the easiest boxes to check when it comes to your golf preparation. Make sure you’re in peak mindset before the round. Whether that’s 1 to 2 hours prior or even a full day in advance, it’s key to take the time to ensure you’re doing the little things to create a space where your confident and poised. You’re in control your energy. Your focus is dialed, or whatever it might be for you to feel prepared and in an optimal state-of-mind.
Simply observe when you’re performing well
I often find that addressing even the smallest areas of our game, in whatever craft it may be, can have some of the most significant impact. Building an awareness of the areas needed for improvement is where it all starts. What’s one of the simplest way to start this process? Simply notice, particularly the mental skills involved, when you’re doing well. Once you’ve done your best detective work, you can then use that information as a sort of litmus test for when shit starts to hit the fan, an almost inevitability in golf. Here’s some questions to get you started.
“What does my body feel like when I’m hitting like a young Tiger?”
A little jittery yet loose?
“How active are my thoughts?”
Mind is racing?
“Straight Cash Homey”
Remember, you’re the expert of you. How you feel when you’re playing at your best is how you feel playing at your best.
Build a pre-shot routine
Regardless of pressure or whether or not we are in a competition, one of the best ways to torch your scorecard is to assess and tweak your swing as you’re playing. “Hey man, lemme take a few back swings and you let me know if I need to open my hips a bit more.” “Oh yeah, definitely open your hips”. Rather than adjust on the fly, go in with the complete opposite mindset. Do the same thing over and over and over and over before every hit. Perhaps you just waltz up there, grip it and rip it, no practice. Maybe you’re like Sergio. Again, there’s no right answer for what specific routine with work for you, but doing the same thing over and and over takes the thought out of the process. Rather than get in our own heads, we learn to trust the motor memory. You’ve taken how swings? The brain will tell the body how to do this action over time, automatically and almost subconsciously. As soon as you interrupt this process, the brain is no longer playing, it’s thinking, and it’s judging, and it’s judging the thinking. What’s the point of hitting those two “larges” at the range beforehand if you’re just gonna tweak your swing every other hole anyway?
Define a goal for the round
Regardless of whether you’re just heading out to play a round of best ball or you’re looking to really dial in your short game, it can be important to set an intention for the round. What does that look like for you, especially from a mental performance point of view? Having the ability to break it down into simpler “chunks” can truly help to a) define areas of strength in your game, b)detect areas for continued development, and c) provide an opportunity to put your full focus on that honing that ability. If you’re using golf as an outlet to let off steam and chill, perhaps it’s advisable to notice if you’re throwing tantrums and launching that new TaylorMade down 16s fairway.
Let go of the past / Practice the art of “Allowing”
Whether you’re an NHL goalie, a race-car driver, a tennis player, or Rafiki in the Lion King, practicing the ability to let go of the past can be tremendously helpful. This is being able to quickly forget missing that easy three-footer or chunking the previous iron shot. For you that may even look like things such as a poor test grade in English or that awkward moment on campus where that girl simply said “have a good one” after you asked her what she likes to do in her free time. TRUE STORY. Again, If we are able to mentally “park” our thoughts that dwell on previous failures and blunders, all of our power will be solely on maximizing our performance. As soon as a piece of our mind wanders to other thoughts, we are no longer in a peak performance state.
To learn more about these strategies and how to apply them, feel free to reach out at https://www.ignitetheinfinite.com/contact