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Can Lessons Help With the Mental Side of the Game?


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I'm 65 and have been playing for 50 years. In the last three years I've slipped from a 6 to a 9 handicap even though I'm playing and practicing the same amount. I only play 9 holes at a time and am stuck on 42-43 (instead of 39-40). I am contemplating taking lessons but I wasn't sure if that would help, as I fear my issues are more related to focus and concentration. Here's a breakdown of my game:

Driver -- the best I've hit it. Averaging 225 yards and hitting 90-95 percent of fairways. 

Irons -- slipped from hitting an average of 4 greens in regulation (per 9 holes) to 2 greens. No pattern to the misses: left, right, long, short. 

Greenside bunkers -- about the same: can usually get within 10 feet of the cup. 

Chipping -- This is where I struggle the most. I practice chipping 1-2 hours per week and from just off the green will often chip to tap-in range with 9 balls out of 10. But when I try to take it to the course, I'm usually 10 feet short or 10 feet long. 

Putting -- about the same as always. Usually one or two 1-putts per nine holes, but also one 3-putt from long distance. 

Any advice? 

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4 hours ago, RandyBobbitt said:

Irons -- slipped from hitting an average of 4 greens in regulation (per 9 holes) to 2 greens.

If your stats are accurate your approach shots have become worse which is a major contributor to scoring. Probably the most. Then you wrote that your chipping has deteriorated as well. So when you do approach with a miss or nGIR, you’re leaving it 10’ which I assume you usually two putt thus making bogey.

I can’t imagine lessons not helping. However, have you read the book ‘Lowest Score Wins’? This book has helped so many people and I highly recommend it.

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(edited)

Chipping does sound very clearly like a mental game issue, similar to the classic golfer who can hit driver fine on the range but slips back to their bad habits on when they get on the tee and worrying about what happens if they miss. At least with short game there is no concern over tossing away $4 into a local body of water or breaking a window so if you are worrying I would think it mostly comes down to taking a bigger picture view on the activity; each individual shot doesn't really matter that much over the course of many holes and many rounds so there is no need to care too heavily about it or view it as one you "have" to get right. I am speculating a bit here about your exact thought process but you yourself have identified chipping as a big problem area so it is reasonable to believe it has formed that sort of mental block. The other thing to consider would be that if you spend all your chipping practice time on the same green you may have gotten very familiar with it and are losing the comfort that provides when trying to make shots during a round.

As for approach shots, I think more detail would be helpful. You say the misses have no pattern but not how bad they actually are or whether it feels like your swing has degraded mechanically.

Edited by measureoffsetinnm
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(edited)

 

6 hours ago, RandyBobbitt said:

Irons -- slipped from hitting an average of 4 greens in regulation (per 9 holes) to 2 greens. No pattern to the misses: left, right, long, short. 

Any advice? 

Yeah, hit more GIR. I'm honestly kind of confused as to why you think its the mental game, you said your game went down roughly 2-3 strokes on average, and you admitted that you are hitting 2 less GIR on average, over the long term there is your 2-3 strokes per round right there. 

Improve your full swing so you hit more GIR and your scores will go down.

And do you actually track your stats via a GameGolf, Arccos, etc or are you just guessing that you don't see a pattern of the misses? Good chances are your misses are not spread out 25% evenly, so there probably is a pattern, it's just difficult to recognize.

Also, the mental game plays a significantly lower impact on your score than you probably think

 

 

22 minutes ago, measureoffsetinnm said:

Chipping does sound very clearly like a mental game issue, similar to the classic golfer who can hit driver fine on the range but slips back to their bad habits on when they get on the tee and worrying about what happens if they miss.

I strongly disagree. For that driver you are talking about on the range, they often do hit poor shots, but its easy to forget about them when you can grab another ball and do it again, so they feel like they are hitting it better than they actually are.

22 minutes ago, measureoffsetinnm said:

I am speculating a bit here about your exact thought process but you yourself have identified chipping as a big problem area so it is reasonable to believe it has formed that sort of mental block.

I also strongly disagree with this too, I knew for a couple years that my driving, specifically huge slices, was a big problem area, but I knew it was because my swing had flaws in it that brought that potential miss into play, it had nothing to do with my mental game.

That's silly IMO to think that just because someone identifies a weakness in their game as a big problem area means that it's reasonable to assume they have some sort of mental block there

Edited by klineka
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Why would your issues have anything to do with the "mental side"? You've clearly become less precise with your approach shots and chipping. It's got nothing to do with your head.

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My short game is the biggest weakness in my golf game, but identifying the weakness doesn't mean it's a mental issue and neither does chipping well on a practice green but not on the course.

The most likely problem is that when practicing chipping you're giving yourself ideal lies and easier shots to practice than you end up encountering out on the course. Every time I go to the golf course I see people around the chipping green who prop every ball up in the rough, roll it out of deep spots, and never put the ball right up against the collar. On the course your ball is more likely than not to settle into the little dips and depressions because those are the localized low points, and balls that roll and stop against the collar of the rough are far more common than the dozens of shots people practice with the ball propped up perfectly 3-6" into the rough. Everybody chips to the hole in the middle or far side of the green instead of the one short-sided to them. For bunker shots they always have the ball in a perfect lie on top of freshly raked sand, pitch shots are from the pristine areas of fairway instead of in a dry spot, previously existing pitch mark, or other challenging scenario.

I don't know what exactly your short game practice routine looks like @RandyBobbitt, but if you really are that good in practice and that bad on the course it's more likely to be an issue of unrealistic practice than an issue with a mental block. An easy way to get more realistic scenarios when practicing is to bring at least 1 golf ball with you for every hole on the practice green. Throw them all out there into the same general area, and hit them from exactly where they end up. Don't adjust the lie, and hit one or more balls to each hole on the green from every spot you choose to practice from. Make sure you're actually practicing for realistic scenarios, instead of just the perfect ones with easy hole locations.

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14 hours ago, RandyBobbitt said:

Chipping -- This is where I struggle the most. I practice chipping 1-2 hours per week and from just off the green will often chip to tap-in range with 9 balls out of 10. But when I try to take it to the course, I'm usually 10 feet short or 10 feet long. 

How are you practicing your chipping? Are you dropping a bunch of balls and hitting to a single target from one spot or are you moving around to different spots and hitting to different targets after each shot?

If it’s the former you’re likely just dialing in your distances due to repetition and it’s giving you a false sense of how good you are.

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(edited)
14 hours ago, RandyBobbitt said:

I

Chipping -- This is where I struggle the most. I practice chipping 1-2 hours per week and from just off the green will often chip to tap-in range with 9 balls out of 10. But when I try to take it to the course, I'm usually 10 feet short or 10 feet long. 

 

It's very easy to lie to yourself about this sort of thing.

You can chip 20 balls in a few minutes and easily forget about a bad one if you immediately hit a good one. 

9 out of 10 to "tap-in range" means 90% within 2 feet. That is better than amazing.

To go from that Phil Mickelson level to  to "usually 10  feet short for long" is a stretch.

I have alway believed that the first step towards improvement is to be honest with yourself.

And --- if you're "just off the green" and can't hit it within 10 feet, why aren't you putting?

Edited by Shorty
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3 hours ago, Shorty said:

I have alway believed that the first step towards improvement is to be honest with yourself.


Also, lessons would help, and you've been a member here long enough to know about this:

https://thesandtrap.com/forums/forum/13-member-swings/

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11 hours ago, klineka said:

I strongly disagree. For that driver you are talking about on the range, they often do hit poor shots, but its easy to forget about them when you can grab another ball and do it again, so they feel like they are hitting it better than they actually are.

Also knowing they have ample room for misses and each individual shot doesn't matter tends to lead to a better feeling of being able to hit a drive well. I don't want to discount the self-delusion about performance but the confidence factor is very tangible imo.

11 hours ago, klineka said:

I also strongly disagree with this too, I knew for a couple years that my driving, specifically huge slices, was a big problem area, but I knew it was because my swing had flaws in it that brought that potential miss into play, it had nothing to do with my mental game.

 I guess I misunderstand what is meant by "mental game" then? Like you that tends to be my miss with the big stick and I know how it comes from physical issues with the swing but I also find that what I thought were things that fell under the umbrella of "mental game" tend to have a very big impact on whether those issues surface or not.

11 hours ago, klineka said:

That's silly IMO to think that just because someone identifies a weakness in their game as a big problem area means that it's reasonable to assume they have some sort of mental block there

What I mean is that the mental block develops because they have identified the area as a big problem. They have frame it in their mind as "I struggle with this" so when they are in the situation they encounter all the unhelpful noise that exacerbates the problems are already there. It is like how first time major winners always seem to say they have a monkey off their back - they know they haven't won one and especially if they should then it gets in their head. I was disappointed but not surprised Lee Westwood missed the cut at The Masters after how much everyone built it up as a great opportunity given his recent run of form to put that capstone on his already excellent career.

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