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Focus! It’s the key to good golf

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Golf is a game that is played over a long period of time, but each shot takes a very short amount of time.Therefore, there is a lot of ‘down time’ in golf where you walk from shot to shot, wait for playing partners or wait for the group in front to move on. In this time, and for many reasons we can lose our focus.

Losing your focus can have a large impact on your game and can happen for many reasons. One debilitating reason is know as forecasting. This can take the form of scripting your acceptance speech after five good holes, or other times by simply thinking about the next shots and how a couple of good shots will give you par, which will help you break 80/90/100 for the first time. Nevertheless, you duff a few shots and before you know it your good day or good shot is a distant memory.

Regardless of the manner by which you lose your focus, there are some home truths you need to know to help you stay focused and get the job done.

Truth No.1: We never lack the ability to focus

Those of you who have Facebook will know that when you are involved in a number of different conversations and have an online game going, plus you are keeping up to date with your wall, you never at any time are you unable to explain what is going on in your social network. You are able to stay fully abreast of multiple stories and rarely do you cross conversations or forget who you were taking to. others who don’t have Facebook hopefully have seen a movie before or read a book. In these experiences, we are able to follow multiple story lines and complex plot twists with relative ease. In all these scenarios, we are intently focused and most of the time this is rather effortless. It is by virtue of this that we know we can focus.

Truth No.2: We don’t always focus properly

Now, if you were to be this intently focused on Facebook or a movie when you should be studying or at work, then we may have an issue. The desire to maintain an appropriate focus is the key issue with which most golfers struggle. If you are focused on what you will say in your acceptance speech, are you focus on hitting the next shot onto the green?

The short answer, NO! The long answer, NOT LIKELY!

Truth No.3 – Do you know what to focus on to produce your best results?

In ensuring you are appropriately focused at all times, you must know what to focus on. For example, in your swing should you focus on your pivot, right arm, hands, clubhead, target and so on. This is an intensely personal decision that should be made based on previous success and feedback. Basically, you must determine what is the best course of action that will return you the best result possible. For a shortcut, discuss it with your coach and workout some likely options.

Truth No.4 – Routine, routine, routine

Creating an appropriate level of focus for each shot is as simple (and complex) as creating and utilising an appropriate routine. Tiger Woods speaks of having imaginary lines on the ground which he used to control his focus; as he walks over one heading to his ball he “puts on his game face.” After hitting the shot, he makes his way over the next and chills out. Other golfers use a shot bubble, others use physical cues, e.g., taking out their glove, whatever you decide to apply make sure you limit the amount of time you are switched on for, as 5 hours of solid focus will drain you of all your energy. From here, when you are switched on, focus only on those things that will help you to hit that one shot as best you can.

Your score can be largely influenced by how focused you are on the day. If you are not convinced, think about some of the silly mistakes you made on your last round and try to tell yourself you were in the zone and completely focused, and the result was just out of your hands.

Click here for more discussion in the “Instruction & Academy” forum. 

Domenic Crouch is a mental game coach. You can follow Domenic on Twitter @domenic_crouch. For more information on Domenic, visit his website www.thinkfeelperform.com

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3 Comments

3 Comments

  1. paul

    Dec 11, 2012 at 9:54 pm

    I started Golfing a few summers ago, and have experienced a strange phenomenon. A few seconds of perfect focus that always results in a made putt after a perfect read. I had a 20 foot putt and saw the path down hill right to left then left to right. crazy that it went in. A few times i have chipped in I did the same thing. saw the slope and the exact spot i wanted the ball to land, focused, made the shot and saw it roll in. weird. wish i could do it more often.

  2. Tom McCarthy

    Nov 29, 2012 at 12:14 am

    Yep! Focusing on swinging through the ball during the golf swing is a fundamental.

  3. pablo

    Nov 28, 2012 at 4:24 pm

    Great article. It only takes a loss of focus on a couple of shots to mess up a great round. Sometimes something as simple as the cart girl or marshall driving up/by can mess it up for me, and I need to start my shot over again from the beginning for best results, especially on a difficult shot.

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Instruction

A Drill To Build Better Club Face Awareness

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When it comes to playing good golf, where you strike the ball on the club face is vital.

One of the key skills in golf is being aware of where the club face is as you swing the club around your body in order to be able to strike the ball in the center of the club face. In this video, I share one of my favorite drills for you to practice to improve your club face awareness. It will help you to hit the center of the club face more often.

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Instruction

How the Trail Arm Should Work In Backswing

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Stop getting stuck! In this video, I demonstrate a great drill to help you move your trail arm correctly in the backswing.

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Instruction

Self-discovery: Why golf lessons aren’t helping you improve

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Of all the things I teach or have taught in golf, I think this is the most important: It’s not what we cover in a lesson, it’s what you discover. 

Some years ago, I had a student in golf school for a few days. She was topping every single shot. Zero were airborne. I explained that she was opening her body and moving forward before her arms and club were coming down. “Late” we call it. I had her feel like her arms were coming down first and her body was staying behind, a common correction for late tops. Bingo! Every ball went up into the air. She was ecstatic.

Some time later, she called and said she was topping every shot. She scheduled a lesson. She topped every shot. I asked her why she was topping the ball. “I think I’m picking up my head,” she said to my look of utter disbelief!

I had another student who was shanking the ball. At least 3 out of 5 came off the hosel with his wedges. I explained that his golf club was pointed seriously left at the top of his backswing. It was positioned well OUTSIDE his hands, which caused it to come down too wide and swing OUTSIDE his hands into impact. This is a really common cause of shanking. We were able to get the club more down the line at the top and come down a bit narrower and more inside the ball. No shanks… not a one!  He called me sometime later. The shanks had returned. You get the rest. When I asked what was causing him to shank, he told me “I get too quick.”

If you are hitting the golf ball better during a golf lesson, you have proven to yourself that you CAN do it. But what comes after the lesson is out of a teacher’s hands. It’s as simple as that. I cannot control what you do after you leave my lesson tee. Now, if you are NOT hitting the ball better during a lesson or don’t understand why you’re not hitting it better, I will take the blame. And…you do not have to compensate me for my time. That is the extent to which I’ll go to display my commitment and accept my responsibility. What we as teachers ask is the same level of commitment from the learners.

Improving at golf is a two-way street. My way is making the correct diagnosis and offering you a personalized correction, possibly several of them. Pick the ONE that works for you. What is your way on the street? Well, here are a few thoughts on that:

  • If you are taking a lesson at 10 a.m. with a tee time at 11 a.m. and you’re playing a $20 Nassau with your buddies, you pretty much wasted your time and money.
  • If the only time you hit balls is to warm up for your round, you have to be realistic about your results.
  • If you are expecting 250-yard drives with an 85 mph club head speed, well… let’s get real.
  • If you “fake it” during a lesson, you’re not going to realize any lasting improvement. When the teacher asks if you understand or can feel what’s being explained and you say yes when in fact you DO NOT understand, you’re giving misleading feedback and hurting only yourself. Speak up!

Here’s a piece of advise I have NEVER seen fail. If you don’t get it during the lesson, there is no chance you’ll get it later. It’s not enough to just hit it better; you have to fully understand WHY you hit it better. Or if you miss, WHY you missed.

I have a rule I follow when conducting a golf lesson. After I explain the diagnosis and offer the correction, I’ll usually get some better results. So I continue to offer that advice swing after swing. But at some point in the lesson, I say NOTHING. Typically, before long the old ball flight returns and I wait– THREE SWINGS. If the student was a slicer and slices THREE IN A ROW, then it’s time for me to step in again. I have to allow for self discovery at some point. You have to wean yourself off my guidance and internalize the corrections. You have to FEEL IT.

When you can say, “If the ball did this then I know I did that” you are likely getting it. There is always an individual cause and effect you need to understand in order to go off by yourself and continue self improvement. If you hit a better shot but do not know why, please tell your teacher. What did I do? That way you’re playing to learn, not simply learning to play.

A golf lesson is a guidance, not an hour of how to do this or that. The teacher is trying to get you to discover what YOU need to feel to get more desirable outcomes. If all you’re getting out of it is “how,” you are not likely to stay “fixed.” Remember this: It’s not what we cover in the lesson; it’s what you discover!

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