Sammy Hanson at Cypresswood Golf Club

Stay out your own way!

Expect and manage your misses...

I’ve heard the greatest golfer of all time say, that in his career best round of golf he only hit one perfect shot all day. So many golfers strive to hit perfects shots with every swing of their club, but that is an unattainable goal in this game. Golf is a game made up of good shots, good misses, and bad misses. Only every once in a while does a golfer get to experience that perfect shot. This game can be brutal, but part of what makes it so is that as golfers we tend to beat ourselves up too much. Think of it this way, if we expect perfection then anything else would be a failure. Focusing more on the “mental” approach to how you play golf is my intent with this article.

When I have a student come to me it’s usually on bad terms, because they’re unhappy with their game. I’ve seen it time and time before, that guy who’s about ready to chunk his clubs in the lake on the 18th hole after a bad day of golf. Actually to be honest, I have seen a guy chunk his clubs in a lake on the 18th hole of a golf course before. Only to then realize that his car keys and wallet were still in his golf bag. Now on a serious note, what happens to so many people is that they expect so much from themselves that when those expectations aren’t met it can be very frustrating. Golf isn’t like riding a bike…it’s actually more like learning to ride a bike. You know when you’re crashing every 5 minutes (hoping it’s in someone’s yard to break the fall). Unlike riding a bike, in golf once you learn the crashing never stops. Playing golf is a lot like that; if we don’t fear bad shots (therefore our miss hits get better), only then being able to make better scores on poorly played holes becomes reality.

Cypresswood Golf Club

One of the biggest differences between how a professional golfer approaches the game compared to a mid-high handicap golfer, is the preparation and expectations of good shots and bad shots. Pro’s expecting to hit a bad shot? Yes, they know it happens which is why if you ever listen in on a conversation between a player and his caddy you’ll hear them discuss where they want to hit the as well as where they want to miss it. Most high handicappers look at the yardage, grab a club, look at the target and swing. That’s if right before doing so they don’t take a glance over to the out of bounds, that water hazard, or some other kind of trouble in hopes of not hitting their shot in one of those. A professional golfer will do that in the reverse order, first look at the trouble, then where they want to miss their shot, and lastly their intended target.

The two main differences in a scratch player and a high handicap golfer is consistency and short game. Most players shooting scores in the 90’s to the 100’s, are shooting those high scores because of double bogey’s or worse on more than one hole in their rounds of golf. Being realistic with one’s expectations with a golf shot is the first step to eliminating those blow up holes. Playing in pro-am’s to the numerous corporate golf outings that I conduct; the two biggest mistakes that I see 10-36 handicappers make are first not hitting enough club into greens, and secondly trying to hit shots that they don’t have the ability to hit. Trying to hit those shots you know you don’t have is what creates the nerves or the doubt when you’re over the ball. You may have pulled that shot off once before… but can you do it consistently is the question. If so, now instead of fear and doubt you’ll have confidence. I’ll tell all of my students, when in doubt play aggressively towards conservative targets. When you fear hitting a bad golf shot chances are you’ll probably hit one. When you focus on hitting a good shot, and don’t rule out hitting a bad shot, you’ll be more confident and committed over the ball. If you don’t have the control or the consistency with your golf game, don’t try to hit the perfect shot. You’ll eliminate the blow up holes, and start lowering your scores by seeing more of the hole, and managing your misses. Not to mention make golf a lot less stressful on yourselves in the process.

Sammy Hanson ~ Director of Instruction ~ Cypresswood Golf Club ~ Spring, TX ~ 281-608-6366


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