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Game of the Weekend: A.C.E.



Sports psychologists are constantly preaching to golfers to get into “the process” of hitting a shot. Jason Day has been discussing it in various post-round interviews, as have other tour players. But what is inside of that process? What should you be doing or thinking? This Game of the Weekend gives you a template and a game to use when you practice or play.

Game of the Weekend: A.C.E.

The goal in golf is to get the ball in the hole in the fewest number of attempts — obviously. Your personal goal, however, should be to do the best you can with every shot you’re faced with by staying in the present.

But how do you stay focused on each individual shot when the overall goal is record the lowest score possible? It comes down to the process, or your routine, for each shot. With so many tour players and great golfers talking about getting engaged in the process of each shot, there needs to be a way to measure the success rate in which you’re in the present and into the process; that’s where A.C.E. comes in. This game will help create a quieter, productive mind instead of being bogged down with a busy, congested mind.

Here’s what A.C.E. stands for:

“A”: Analyze

This is where you evaluate all of the factors that go into choosing the appropriate target, shot and club. Items you must thoroughly Analyze include:

  • How the ball lies
  • Yardage to pin, yardage to clear any trouble/front of green, yardage behind the pin
  • Wind speed and direction
  • Location of hazards and obstacles; the best place to miss
  • Elevation change
  • Temperature
  • Surface of landing area
  • Altitude

“C”: Commit 

This is the few seconds just before you hit the shot and where you need to create your own trigger that confirms you’re in a beneficial frame of mind and ready to swing. A commitment trigger helps fill those vital few seconds, assists with keeping the demons out of your thoughts and keeps things focused what TO DO instead of what not to do.

Visual examples:

  • “I see a runway leading from my ball to the target, then I swing.”
  • “I see the apex of the shot in the air, then I swing.”
  • “I burn a thin red laser line into the green on the trail that my ball will take to the hole, then I roll the putt.”

Verbal examples:

  • Say to yourself “This is perfect!” then swing.
  • Say to yourself “Right at it!” then swing.
  • Say to yourself “I own this!” then swing.


  • “I let out a breath, then swing.”
  • “When my feet feel grounded and solid, then I swing.”
  • “When I feel connected to the target, then I swing.”

Rhythm examples:

  • “I look at the target three times, then swing.”
  • “I count to four … 1) is positioning my club behind the ball, 2) is my feet getting set, 3) is when I look at the target, and 4) is my backswing begins.”


A high handicapper will be surprised at how often the mind will make the muscles hit the ball to the target, even with a far less than perfect swing.

— Harvey Penick


“E”: Execute or Exit

Execution is simply swinging the club. There is virtually no time that takes place between the time you become committed and the time you swing. The commitment trigger not only counters any negativity but also fills the timeframe when most negative thoughts creep into your mind. However, there are times when you need to back off (Exit) a shot and regroup. This would include:

  • Any negativity creeps in your mind
  • Your eyes drift to, say the pin, when your target is something else
  • You get distracted
  • Score comes to mind
  • The wind speed or direction change
  • You’re not really 100 percent committed
  • You’re thinking about what others might be thinking about you

No one else is to blame for the shots you hit — it is purely your responsibility. Back away and gather yourself if needed. The best level of commitment is one that engrosses you so much in your shot that you don’t even notice the distractions that are around you. Being so into the process of your shot allows you to disregard poor shots helping you to put them behind you and dramatically aiding your ability to bring a clear and focused approach to your next shot.


When using the scorecard for A.C.E. you can enter your percentage score for 9-hole or 18-hole rounds of golf into the website You earn dots for each shot based on the following:

  • If you correctly ANALYZE the shot, place a dot in the “A” box. If after hitting the shot you realize that you failed to Analyze a factor then you do not get a dot in the “A” box.
  • If you wholeheartedly go through your COMMITMENT trigger on the shot, place a dot in the “C” box.
  • You automatically get a dot in the “E” EXECUTE box unless you hit the ball when you should have Exited the shot (ie: score came to mind, wind changed, doubt, negativity, eyes looked at something other than your target, the result, etc.)

A.C.E. every shot and watch your scores go down and your enjoyment go up!

Previous Games of the Weekend

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Trent Wearner is the No. 1-rated teacher in Colorado by Golf Digest Magazine, as well as a two-time Colorado PGA Teacher of the Year (2004, 2014). Along the way, he has been recognized as a Top 20 Teacher Under Age 40 by Golf Digest, a Top 50 Kids Teacher in America by U.S. Kids Golf and a Top Teacher in the Southwestern U.S. by GOLF Magazine. Trent is also the author of the book Golf Scrimmages and creator of the website



  1. marcel

    Oct 22, 2015 at 9:31 pm

    there is no confidence with no skill. you can only apply mental training to skills… or in another words you can be as cocky as Donald T. and it all goes away after a shank and no clue how to play 😉

  2. Trent Wearner

    Oct 18, 2015 at 9:31 am

    Hello OCD – I understand that a routine (A.C.E.) is not a traditional game but hopefully by turning it into a game at first, it will become more appealing to people, that they’ll begin to realize the importance of having one, that they’ll have some sort of guidance to its inner workings, and then hopefully it will become a more permanent part of all of their shots.

  3. OCD

    Oct 17, 2015 at 2:52 am

    Calling this fundamental routine a GAME is why most players fail.

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