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Senior Golfer - On The Green

ON THE GREEN is courtesy of the Senior Connection Newspaper, visit their web site. The author is Jerry Koncel, a free-lance writer who lives in Schaumburg, IL.

Don't forget the mental side of golf: Part 1

The Putting Green

In the last few months, I have been bombarded by headlines in golf magazines and e-mails on my Internet site proclaiming the unbelievable results through new technology and new swings. When it comes to technology, the headlines in golf magazines read, "Add an extra 20 yards to your drives," "Hit those irons longer and straighter," "Improve your swing speeds with new drivers."

As for swing thoughts, nearly every month we hear how to gain 20 yards in three easy steps; the secret to hitting crisp irons; and the importance of hitting down on the ball to produce better iron shots. It's not that I don't believe all these headlines; I just find that they are leaving out one important aspect of better golf games-the mental side. It is my firm belief that you can gain extra yardage with the new clubs, hit crisper iron shots by hitting down on the ball and make more three-foot to five-foot putts by hitting the ball past the hole on every attempt. My major concern is whether you can do this when it counts.

I believe that focus, concentration and visualization are as important to successful golf games as the other three major components; i.e., technology, swing mechanics and fitness. The problem is that we do not spend enough time talking about the mental side of golf.

Just ask yourself this simple question: What role do emotions play in the game of golf? If you answered anything but "very important," you need to rethink your golf game. Let me give you two examples to illustrate what I mean.

I had just birdied the first three holes of my round, stepped up to the par three fourth hole, which was 161 yards over water to the pin. I pulled out a 6-iron, hit a great shot that was headed just left of the pin. When it landed 10-feet over the green behind a tree, I let out some curse words and headed to my ball.

Not only did my shot land behind a big oak tree, but also I was stymied. I had to pitch out away from the pin. I skulled the shot, and ended up with a 50-foot uphill putt. I hit my first putt short, missed the four-footer, and left with a double-bogey.

To make a long story short, one bad break had prompted me to lose my focus. I became very upset with poorly hit shots, and three-putted four of the next nine greens. For the next nine holes, I lost control over my emotions and proceeded to play them in 10 over par.

My second example involves playing in the club match play championship. We were playing the 15th hole, and I was one up. This hole was a par four of about 400 yards with out of bounds on the left and a blind second shot. My opponent hooked his drive toward the out-of-bounds stakes, and said he was hitting a provisional because he did not know whether his ball was in play or out of bounds. I hit my drive to the right rough.

When my opponent found his ball, it was close to out of bounds. He looked behind the two white stakes, asked me to give a look, and declared that it was in bounds. From my angle, it looked out of bounds. Instead of saying, "I don't agree with you," I merely acquiesced to his view and let him hit from there.

He hit his second shot on the green, 40-feet from the pin. I hit my second shot left of the green, chipped on to with 10 feet, and made a bogey. My opponent two-putted for a par, and as I left the green, I was thinking, "I think he was out of bounds, and he cheated." By then, it was too late to replay the episode.

I then made double-bogeys on the next two holes by hitting drives way left and way right of the fairways. I congratulated my opponent, and then left the course telling myself how stupid I was for letting that episode control my thoughts. Instead of concentrating on my game, all I could think of his out-of-bounds shot!

These two examples illustrate how a lack of control over my emotions ruined my golf games. Next month, we'll look at the positive side: how to focus on our golf games and concentrate on our shots in pressure situations to get better results.

ON THE GREEN is courtesy of the Senior Connection Newspaper, visit their web site. The author is Jerry Koncel, a free-lance writer who lives in Schaumburg, IL.

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