Getting Yourself Into a State of Grace
Some say that golf is a game best played in a state of grace. I believe that most good players do feel graceful as they move around the course. There is sometimes an exception, but good golfers need to feel at ease, feel smooth and easy, especially when coming down the stretch. Remember, though, that good golfers work ahead of time on trying to achieve this state of grace in competitive situations. Some work harder at it than others; as a result, it comes to the best players more easily and lasts longer when they need it most.
For instance, good players deliberately walk at a pace that puts them at ease. And some players have gone so far as to change their whole way of life: how they think, how they speak, even where they live, in order to feel at ease. Some have become more deeply involved with personal faith. All of this is done to gain the inner peace that will manifest itself through their golf swing, with good results.
So for you, I’d advise starting off the right way. If you begin your process by leaving the house well ahead of time to get to the course, you won’t have to rush from your car to the first tee. Instead, you’ll have time to stretch, warm up, and simply get your mind into the right place. You can hit a few balls and make a few practice putts. After all, you won’t play to your capability unless you can warm up and get some feel. If a practice area is not available, a few stretches and back-and-forth swings will loosen you up, establish your tempo, and move your thoughts in the right direction.
On the course, remember to keep in touch with the proper pace of your own game. Try not to make any quick, jerky movements after a great shot or a poor shot. Don’t yell or get too excited. Do not yank clubs from your bag. Don’t storm off to the next tee. Don’t start thinking about any trouble you could get into, either on this hole or on an upcoming hole. Don’t get overly pumped about a good shot, or overly upset about a poor one. Don’t let your body get all tense trying to make a birdie. You simply cannot let your nervous system get overly involved with what your muscles need to do in golf.
After the shot has been played, the same approach must be maintained. Find the ball, and simply try to put it into the best position you can with the next swing. Stay in the present moment and get the job done; only then should you focus on the next moment, the next job. Remember the feel of your good swings and try to repeat that feel through every pre-shot routine. Now, a good shot can get a golfer as emotionally worked up as a bad one, so stay with a steady routine to keep yourself in check.
In short, work hard on keeping control of your emotions. It’s a marathon out there, not a sprint. Stay in that state of grace; smooth and easy does it.
Mike Hebron is a PGA Master Professional who is the Director of Golf at Smithtown Landing CC.