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THINK your way to better golf

Picture this scenario, you’re playing a round of golf and in the first 5 holes, everything is going along nicely. You’ve hit plenty of good shots and a few average ones. Your handicap is 12, your score is 1 over par for 5 holes. Your mind is on autopilot, you’re in a flow state, and you’re just looking at targets and hitting the ball freely. No confusing swing thoughts, no negativity, life is great. Sounds pretty good right? 

All of a sudden on the 6th tee….you slice a driver out of bounds. Your heart sinks, and your thoughts start to jump around. You tee another ball up with confusion and self-doubt in your mind. Inevitably you react to the last one, and the next one goes way left, in the trees. You’ve hit 3 off the tee and now you have to find your ball and play it out of the trees. Despite everything that happened in the first 5 holes, you’re now in a state of panic and confusion. 

How do you react to this situation? From what I’ve seen, you have 2 options

You can let that 1 shot affect the rest of your round by doing the following things:

  • Messing around with swing thoughts

  • Letting your mindset change the chances of a good shot occurring

  • Changing your pre-shot routine

  • Changing your game plan, take silly risks

  • Reacting to the scorecard 

  • Being result-driven rather than process-driven

Or, you could completely forget that one bad shot, and keep your round going by doing the following things:

  • Keeping your mind free of swing thoughts 

  • Not changing your intention based on previous outcomes (one shot doesn’t define you)

  • Completely resetting your mind before each shot

  • Maintaining your pre-shot routine

  • Sticking to the game plan, regardless of the outcome

  • Being process-driven rather than result-driven 

  • Seeing each shot as an opportunity to achieve something, rather than fearing failure

The only thing happening in the above scenario is the numbers playing out. You hit a bad shot, so what? You hit plenty of good and average ones before that. This one failure doesn't now define you. If you let your mind get in the way now, the problems on the course can snowball. It's important here to stay calm and content, regardless of the outcome. Your happiness shouldn't be defined by the outcome, because we know that can vary. Your happiness should be defined by the process. Ask yourself, did I prepare for that shot the same way as the others? Did I let go and allow my skill set to come out? Did I say something positive to myself before and after the shot? If you do these things and judge yourself on these things, then it's easier to stay calm and stick to the game plan on the course. If you let good and bad outcomes define your happiness, you're going to have a mentally draining time on the course, and when you're working on things off course too.

Knowing that any outcome within your current skill set can occur after you make a swing on the course is liberating as a golfer. Refer back to my blog on marbles (here). Each golf shot you hit is like picking a marble from a bag with your eyes closed. Gold is good, white is average and black is a bad shot. At every level of golf, we have the same chance of picking out a gold, white or black marble. Some players might have a better skill set and technique, and therefore the level of their good, average and bad shots is better than the next. But the same theory applies.

You'll never get rid of bad shots, nobody does!

If you give yourself the same chance on each shot, by resetting your brain, not reacting to the last shot, maintaining a good routine, and letting go of fear, you can truly play your best golf. Good, average and bad shots will always occur at every level of golf you play. That's why I'm not a huge fan of hearing "I just want to be more consistent" from golfers. Rather than this, you should instead strive to improve your level. Can you improve the level of those 3 types of shots? Yes, you can, by developing technique and skill in a building phase.

Building Phase

A lot of golf coaches will work solely on your technique and skill. I call this a building phase. When you’re in a building phase (which is sometimes necessary), you should be completely focused on building the skill and technique required to perform better. You should also have regular guidance, and practice in the right way. (Lots of repetitions - Block Practice). The scores don’t matter at this stage. 

Whilst this phase is important, most coaches will conduct expensive, sporadic, private sessions, selling their time for money, to try to develop your skill and technique. This prolongs the building phase because there's not enough feedback and this never truly allows you to play better golf. Frustration ensues and a vicious cycle begins.

In the G60 program, we solve this cycle with frequency. If we can see you practise enough in our supervised practice sessions, we can guide you through the building phase quicker and more efficiently.

Performance Phase

You can only truly play your best golf when you’ve learnt the movement without having to think. I call this a performance phase. When we teach people in a performance phase, there is no thought of technique. We can instead focus our minds on the aspects of the game that will directly improve your golf course performance. Mindset, golf course strategy, and dealing with pressure are a few. Most coaches will keep you in a building phase forever. We aim to guide you through the phases to reach the performance phase as quickly and efficiently as we can.

You need to let go!

Think of some of the greatest sportspeople. I guarantee you Roger Federer isn't thinking about technique as he hits a cross-court backhand winner past his opponent. Lionel Messi isn't thinking about where to place his standing foot when striking a football into the top corner of the net. Scottie Scheffler isn't thinking about the position of his club at the top of the backswing as he smashes driver down the middle of the fairway. They are all in a flow state, a performance phase, and they can all just let go and allow their skill set to come out. They still make mistakes, and they all fail, but because they've spent countless hours developing their skill and technique away from the court, pitch and course, they can perform well without having to think about that stuff.

Swing your swing

The old saying, “swing your swing” is relevant here. There has to be a point where you accept what you’ve got and try to play your best golf with that skill set. There is no rule on when this should occur, but I can guarantee you, that whenever you choose to switch your mindset to performance mode, you will get better outcomes on the golf course. 

But, there’s no point in “swinging your swing” if the outcome isn’t at the required level to play your best golf though right? If that’s the case, get yourself in the building phase to improve your level of skill and technique first. Have no scoring expectations, be very focused on improving your skills and work hard (lots of repetitions and feedback). Once you’ve done that, you need to be able to switch off from technique and get into performance mode, especially on the golf course. Let go and allow yourself to “swing your swing”

At G60, we guide you through each phase of training through regular group practice and recommend very different ways to practise based on where you are in your journey. Below is an example of how we do that in each phase:

Building Phase

Maintenance Phase

Performance Phase

Technique Focus

Technique Maintenance

Less Technique Focus

No pressure on scores

Pressurised practice (intro)

Pressurised Practice

Conscious swing thoughts

Less conscious swing thoughts

Swing is automatic

Block practice - lots of reps

Block and Varied Practice

Varied Practice

Regular Coach Guidance

Regular Coach Guidance

Lots of competition

If this sounds like the program for you, click the button below to apply for G60 membership today.

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