Sep
04

Use golf psychology to overcome bad luck and play well despite it

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What impact does luck have on your game of golf? By that I mean do you treat good luck and bad luck as two sides of the same coin? Statistically, our golfing luck is going to even out over the long term. If you keep tossing a coin, you may get long runs of heads or tails, but I’m sure that deep down we all know that every time there’s an equal chance of one or the other. Luck’s been a part of golf for a long time and the earliest golfer’s defined good luck and bad luck as "Rub of the Green."

So how do you feel if you hit a really good drive down the middle of the fairway only to see it bounce off unexpectedly into a bunker or end up in a divot? Does it make you angry and affect your next shot or even the rest of the round? Did you see Lee Westwood’s tee shot on the 72nd hole when he was in contention to win the Open Championship at Turnberry? He hit it perfectly only to see it roll on and on before veering off into a bunker and leaving him with a seemingly impossible shot to the green. Would your shoulder’s "drop"? Would you feel the world was against you? Or would you just treat it as just one of those things and, like Lee Westwood, just accept the new challenge and hit the best possible shot from where the ball lay under the face of the bunker? Wasn’t that an amazingly well thought out and executed recovery shot he hit onto the green from there?

I know I’m labouring this point, but how would it affect you, if you had not just one, but a whole series of unlucky breaks in the middle of a round of golf? Would you notice any good breaks along the way? I suspect not. Maybe you’d start to feel like the course was against you or it was just not your day. Either way, you’d probably not be in the right frame of mind to play well and you’d start thinking more about your bad luck than the shot you’re about to hit. If you just knuckle down and focus all your attention on playing the next shot, then you’re either brain dead or, like Lee Westwood, you’re using good golf psychology.

Good luck can have an equally strong positive impact on the golf mind as bad luck can have a negative one. Looking back on my early years of playing golf, long before I knew anything about golf psychology, I now realise my perception of whether I was being lucky or unlucky early in the round had a major effect on my final score for the round. There was a long walk around a lake to the par 3 sixth hole at Brookmans Park, my home club back then, and there was often a long wait on the tee. As a result, there was plenty of time to ponder on how the round was going. If I was around 2 over par after those first five holes and hitting the ball poorly, I felt lucky despite already using up all my shots as a 2 handicap golfer. My ball striking would gradually improve through the round and I’d usually have a really good score. If, on the other hand, I was over par after those same five holes and striking the ball really well, then I’d feel resentful about that bad luck, my swing would deteriorate and I’d have a really terrible score.

If I’d looked at my bad luck objectively back then, accepted it and simply played each shot as it came, it would have cost me at most 2 or 3 shots in the round not the 10 or 15 shots it often cost me through bad golf psychology. In all probability, it wouldn’t have cost me even that as I’d probably have some good luck elsewhere in the round to compensate.

So how do I just accept my bad luck, I hear you say. Well just about everything I’ve learned about golf psychology helps and most importantly, it’s the ability to have a good post-shot routine supported by golf hypnosis. After you hit any shot or putt, regardless of whether it’s a good or bad and lucky, unlucky or just a normal one, you should learn from it, release it and consign it to the past. It can’t hurt you there. If it’s a really good shot, then savour the moment and file it away in your mind as a resource for a future time when you need inspiration and confidence.

If a bad or unlucky shot’s difficult to get over, then fire off a strong Resource Anchor to change your state. If you’re familiar with self-hypnosis, you can use that to achieve the same result or use the Finger Breathing technique I described recently. Another approach is to use the Positive Reframing approach to consider how much more unlucky and worse off you could be.

Comments

  1. […] of golf and you start feeling hard done by about the conditions, your opponents or just a string of bad luck, then remember Jack’s comments and turn things round by finding the positives rather than […]

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