Perfect Golf Psychology


There’s nothing wrong with striving for perfection, just as long as recognise that Golf is Not a Game of Perfect, to quote Bob Rotella. That’s why I stress the importance of acceptance and release in the Post-Shot Routine. It’s also why I so liked Nick Faldo’s comment about Tiger Woods “hitting the reset button” after a bad shot that made him angry.

Even with their well polished mechanics and a good understanding of ball flight physics, the top players still hit a less than perfect shot every now and then. Even if they don’t actually hit a bad shot, the course and conditions and outside agencies can turn a good shot into a bad one. We even have a term for that in golf – “Rub of the Green”.

So what else do the top players do when they experience one or more bad or unlucky shots? Well, I was listening to Rory McIlroy giving a clinic to a large group of young players at the Grand Final of the Faldo Series. Someone asked, to a ripple of laughter, “If you can’t stop making bogeys, how do you bounce back on the next hole?”

The gist of Rory’s reply was, “If you’ve just made a bogey on the 5th green, you can’t walk on to the 6th tee going ‘I have to make a birdie because I bogeyed the last’, you have to stick to the process”. He went on to say, “You’re not thinking about bogeys or birdies, all you’re thinking about is the shot at hand and just going through your processes, if you do all these things right, your score at the end of it will take care of itself”.

Focus on the shot in hand

So, in striving for perfection, you need to focus on the shot in hand, and make use of your routines or processes, especially your post shot routine, regardless of what went before. Remember that each shot you play just counts for one shot on the scorecard. And it’s equally important, regardless of whether it’s for a birdie or a bogey. That’s the secret of Winning Golf.

One of the best exponents of this approach is Luke Donald. Yes, I know I’m biased, because he’s a member of my club and I can remember giving him shots in matchplay!

Well what better way to finish my last blog of 2011 than with a reference to Luke Donald. His approach to perfect golf has driven him to be number one in the world and to top the money lists on the European and PGA Tours. What more can I say?

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