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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 2

The Putting Green

Don't forget the mental side of the game: Part 2 There's an old axiom in business that says, "If you can't measure it, you can't fix it." It refers to efforts made by businesses to measure and manage those key components that are integral to the success of their business operations.

The same thing holds true for golfers. We need to measure our golf games to determine our strengths and weaknesses so that we concentrate on improving those weak areas. There is one major difference, however, between business and golf: there is nothing that factors the mental side of golf into the picture. Let me give you two examples to illustrate what I mean.

I have worked hard and long to eliminate duck hooks from my drives. I want to take the left side of the course out of play. I'm playing at Cantigny in Winfield, and I come upon a difficult driving hole with water on both sides of the fairway. I hit my drive and duck hook it into the water on the left. What happened?

The first thing that happened is that I tensed up in my stance, took the club back a little quickly, and subsequently closed the clubface through the hitting area, resulting in the duck hook. None of this was on purpose but rather was because I did not have a positive attitude toward this shot.

Instead of thinking about my grip, my stance, and relaxation techniques, my mind was replaying the last time I had played this hole and hit a poor shot into the water on the right side of the fairway. My mind was focusing on the wrong swing thought.

Example two comes from last summer, when I shot even par for the first nine holes and was one over coming to the 16th hole, a short part three of 154 yards. The wind was against me, so I chose a six iron and hit a fat shot that landed 10 yards short of the green. I told myself: "That's OK! Just hit a nice chip and a putt and everything will be back to normal."

I proceeded to chunk my chip shot, landing on the fringe 50 feet from the pin. Upset with the chip, I hit my putt firm enough to get it to the hole, but ended up five feet past the hole. I missed the comeback putt and ended up with a double. I then told myself to avoid doubles on the next two holes, which I did by bogeying both of them.

In this case, my mind was racing to the one over par I was going to tell everyone about after the round ended instead of the shot at hand. Instead of playing one shot at a time, one hole at a time, I was way ahead of myself.

If we are to concentrate on the shot at hand, we can't let negative thoughts or previous shots occupy our thoughts. This is particularly true with those weak areas of our game, whether it be driving, hitting irons, or chipping and putting. We have to clear our minds, visualize the shot we want to hit from this spot, and then get into your routine.

Confidence in our golf swings comes from practice and repetition. It requires you to concentrate on your game, not your opponents, the kids at home or where you're going for dinner tonight. You can't be worried about that next hole or recall that missed three-foot putt on the last hole. Let's never forget the important role emotions play in our golf games. Everyone has a different emotional state that they need to attain to play good golf games. So, don't get too high with good golf shots or too down on poor shots. All you can do is focus on the next shot.

The ability to hit consistent golf shots involves equipment, practice, and physical fitness. We'll focus on this latter subject in a future column.

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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