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Reducing Handicap and Staying Composed?


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My handicap is right around a 10... more or less. I'm still getting back into the game, and while I've played a few times this year, I plan on getting out even more regularly and am hoping to shave some strokes off of my game.

So far I've been hitting the ball reasonably well. Making solid contact most of the time, however I've been hitting some nasty hooks, especially with my irons on par 3's off of the tee. I think I'm turning through too quickly... Around the greens, I've been ok... I'll hit some great approaches, and then I'll chunk another one that barely goes anywhere, or make poor contact in someway resulting in added strokes around the greens. It seems like I have to have at least a couple of bad instances of missed shots during a round and it would help my game a great deal to do away with these issues... I would also benefit from putting my approaches a little closer to the pin, on average.

Maybe I simply need to play/practice more, but when I'm playing solid golf for the most part, aside from blowing up on a small handful of holes, it almost seems like more of a mental thing to me, like I'm losing composure or something. A lot of times I'll stand over the ball and worry about opening or closing the club-face through impact and it can't be helping. Other times I won't fell at ease standing over the ball... "Pressured" is a good word. I feel pressured, and I shouldn't. Pressure that I'm putting on myself. How can I just do away with it?

I'm able to string together good stretches of holes but instead of stringing together holes, I want to get to the point where I can hold it together for a full round. Any advice on this would be great!

Thanks!

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I feel your pain. I struggle with the same thing. After putting together 2 good rounds (75,76) yesterday I came back to reality with a 86. I had put so much pressure on myself to perform well when I did have a bad swing I was unable to scramble to save a descent score. Bad chipping and missed putts kept me chasing all day. I felt rushed, even made an effort to walk slow and try to take my time, but I felt rushed. Not calm and relaxed like the 2 previous rounds.

To answer your question, the more I play this season the more consistant I seem to be getting. Last year I only had 2 rounds in the 70's, I've already got 5 this year. Try to slow everything down and stay relaxed and control your breathing, at least that seems to work for me.

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At least now I know I am not the only one...last minute thoughts popping into my head

I have been shooting low to mid 80's for several years now always trying to break 80...only done that once shot a 75...the golf gods were on my side that day, it was amazing.

Lately I have been practicing more than ever, and yesterday shot a 98!!!  The one thing I learned was the sequence of the meltdown.  Here it is...

first hole par...second hole missed fariway into woods tried to crush the ball creating a slice, big trouble (been hitting them straight on range), double

then thought, forget the driver, going to the money club, 3 wood... hooked it...

ok...my irons are always consistent so I started hitting those well...

long story short by the 15th hole .. i am thinking i need to change the grips, they are slipping out of my hand, so I am holding them too tight...

putting...had at least 10 putts lipping the hole, but nothing sank

by the 18th, i did not care any more and took the driver back out and ripped one down the middle for about 295...then hit the green with a 175 yd 6- iron...and two putted for par.

Par on the first and last...everything in between disaster...can't figure out why.  But walking away for a while...maybe I'm burned out, trying too hard, and always having high expectations, too high.

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I have similar issues but I think I need to work on my concentration.  I need a solid 10 seconds of concentration 70-80 times a round.

Some times I have a hard time doing that.

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Thanks everyone... It's good to know I'm not alone lol.

That's one thing I do a lot of, envision the shot and ball flight before addressing the ball... It really helps a lot of the time, but you still have to execute, and that's something else altogether.

I can definitely relate to the missed putts... overall this year my putting has been fairly solid, but I've had several birdie attempts pretty much every round, where they're make-able, but they don't fall. I need to get those to drop, and I need to minimize the bogeys and occasional doubles (which are frequently from taking a penalty stroke, or poor shots). Lately my starting holes have been pretty bad, but after about 5 holes in, I start playing much better.

Another area I forgot to mention... My hybrids and fairway metals... I'm struggling hitting them straight, even making good contact with my 3 and 5 wood. I think I've outgrown my shafts, they're regular flex, and my swing speed requires stiff (maybe even extra-stiff) so I think that's contributing a bit towards my inconsistency. So a lot of missed opportunities are coming directly as a result of these clubs too. Instead of putting them up on or around the green, I'm adding another shot or two (or three) to my score before finishing the hole.

But nerves are definitely apart of it too... Gotta try and cut down on the nervousness/pre-shot anxiety.

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I have the same problems you guys do. I'll be playing well and have those couple of blowup holes.

Then I start playing badly, my concentration goes to hell, and the round keeps getting worse.

I start off the first couple of holes great, and then I start thinking swing thoughts. Release the club face at impact, don't push off your right foot, don't kink your wirsts on the backswing. On and on and on.

Then when I don't even care, like on the 17th and 18th holes, I play perfectly fine, solid contact.

It's all mental. If I knew how to control it and teach others, I would be a millionair!

Golf....don't ya love it!

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Originally Posted by The Recreational Golfer

What is there to be nervous about? It's just golf. Let the tour guys worry. You just have fun.

Standing over the golf ball, I simply want to hit a good shot. I'm a very competitive person and a bit of a perfectionist, lol... I want to be the best I can be. I'm striving to accomplish certain things with golf, and I'm playing as good as I ever have in my life right now, but still see a ton of room for improvement. I know I can reach my goals, it's just a matter of getting these kinks worked out of my game. Otherwise, I'm playing solid.

The more you want something, the more you put pressure on yourself to see it through. That's the way I see it.

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Originally Posted by CallawayGolf25

Standing over the golf ball, I simply want to hit a good shot. I'm a very competitive person and a bit of a perfectionist, lol... I want to be the best I can be. I'm striving to accomplish certain things with golf, and I'm playing as good as I ever have in my life right now, but still see a ton of room for improvement. I know I can reach my goals, it's just a matter of getting these kinks worked out of my game. Otherwise, I'm playing solid.

The more you want something, the more you put pressure on yourself to see it through. That's the way I see it.

Hogan said he hit about 3-4 shots every round perfectly. Everyone wants to hit every shot perfect but it's really not possible. Just don't worry about it, it's a game of misses.

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Guys, I have felt your pain in the past for many years. It was never a swing or talent issue it was always putting too much pressure on myself mentally and having very high, even too high of expectations.

I no longer have these types of issues. Why? It may be age and experience (44 yrs old now)...maybe maturing a bit, I don't know.  But I will tell you that everytime I go to the course I completely enjoy the elements around me.  The sky, the trees, the overall beauty of a great piece of real estate and the fact that I am doing what I love to do.  Why am I saying all this?  I think when you go to the course and you are completely focused on one thing for 4 hours you tend to get too intense and indulged and don't take time to enjoy the things around you.

I may sound old here, but the next time you go play a round, before each shot, look up at the sky, the tree tops and just look around at your surroundings.  It will eventually help your mental approach and keep you from having too much "tunnel vision".

I am a better, more consistent player than I have ever been.  10 years ago I'd shoot in the 70's once out of every 6-10 rounds.  Now, most of my rounds are in the 70's and it is all because of my mental approach to the game...I also cope better with having a bad hole so it doesn't bleed over to the next hole and kill the round.

Let's face it, this game is 90% mental....

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1. To take the self-induced pressure off yourself, you must learn to associate a golf shot with a different mental feeling. You're a 10, which means you hit the ball pretty well and are competent around the green. That means if you hit a bad shot, you're good enough to make up for it with the next one and still get a good score on a hole. You don't have to hit four good shots to make a par. Three good ones will do. Good golf isn't that hard. This is believing in yourself, being your own best friend out there. Listen to your negative self-talk. If your playing partner said those things to you, you probably wouldn't put up with it. So why say the same things to yourself? Try, "I wanted to get a par from over there, but I guess I'll be getting one from here instead."

2. Two critical mental skills are not judging the shot and forgetting it as soon as it's over. They're related. Watch the ball until it stops only to see where it goes. No evaluations or judgements. Save those for the clubhouse. When the ball stops rolling switch your thinking immediately to how you're going to play the next shot from where the ball is -- not from where you would rather it have been. This is the forgetting part. How the ball got there is no longer important and gives you no information about how to hit your next shot, so you must put that out of your mind. Andre Agassi had this great quote: "There's a time to enjoy your good shots and get upset by your bad ones, but that time is not while you're out here playing."

Read this article in the current NY Times about Phil Mickelson: http://www.nytimes.com/2012/05/06/sports/golf/fortune-smiles-on-phil-mickelson-on-way-to-hall-of-fame.html?ref=golf He is called "one of the best forgetters in the game."

Learning these things takes practice and constant effort. The rewards are increased enjoyment (see FuzzyB1 ) and your best shots coming out more often because you're staying out of your own way.

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I guess people with HCI around 10 are all having the same mental issue.

I finally started to ignore bad shots about a month ago.  It's not easy as they creep up once in a while.  But I did notice a HUGE improvement in my consistency as my scores in 90's have virtually disappeared!  (Knock on wood...)

Now I try to put a good swing on each shot and forget about what happened or will happen.

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Originally Posted by Yukari

I guess people with HCI around 10 are all having the same mental issue.

I finally started to ignore bad shots about a month ago.  It's not easy as they creep up once in a while.  But I did notice a HUGE improvement in my consistency as my scores in 90's have virtually disappeared!  (Knock on wood...)

Now I try to put a good swing on each shot and forget about what happened or will happen.

"Mental issues" on the course is for all golfers regardless of handicap level. Yes, and even the tour pros.

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  • 2 weeks later...

Gave it two weeks rest and went out to play with no expectations....left driver in bag.  Hit 9 fairways, 9 greens, no doubles, two birds....78!!!  Playing with no pressure seems to work out well.  It's almost like the less I play the better the score.

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