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Focus! It's the key to good golf

focus the mental game

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#1 zakkozuchowski

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Posted 24 November 2012 - 10:20 PM

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Focus! It's the key to good golf

By Domenic Crouch

GolfWRX Contributor

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.

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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#2 Sean2

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Posted 24 November 2012 - 10:30 PM

I focus best when I don't focus on...anything. By that I mean I get out of my own way and just let the swing take over, and put my "swing thoughts" in a corner somewhere. That's when I play my best golf. I know what to do and just do it. It doesn't happen often enough though.

Does that make any sense?
Hey...be nice.

#3 feedlotdoc

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Posted 24 November 2012 - 11:08 PM

View PostSean2, on 24 November 2012 - 10:30 PM, said:

I focus best when I don't focus on...anything. By that I mean I get out of my own way and just let the swing take over, and put my "swing thoughts" in a corner somewhere. That's when I play my best golf. I know what to do and just do it. It doesn't happen often enough though.

Does that make any sense?

Completely makes sense to me.  I also focus my best when not focusing on "anything".  Step up to the ball, and swing the club.  No thoughts, no delay.

#4 butch33611

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Posted 25 November 2012 - 05:58 PM

I find I score better when im playing alone. Im not distracted by conversations and waitting too much between shots. I can take my time and think about the shot im trying to hit. On the other hand I do enjoy hangin out with the guys playin golf. Laughin and jokin with them definately takes my eye off the prize.

#5 dogsbe

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Posted 25 November 2012 - 07:39 PM

One of the things that I find difficult is to actually realize if I am being distract or am I actually focused.  For example, thinking about my swing is a distraction because I am now playing golf swing instead of golf.  Saying that I will not think about my swing over the course of a round is pretty impossible to do, so I give myself 15 seconds after a shot to review it and then, I drop it.  

What has helped me a lot is to simply make a list of all the things that make me loose focus.  In other words, things that do not help me to shot my best scores.  Somethings are easy to avoid, for example I never watch another player's swing.  However, other things like a player sparking up small talk is harder to avoid.  So, I have strategies to avoid these distraction. For example, I will tolerate the get to know you small talk going down the first hole or when I am the last person to play the shot.


#6 nitram

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Posted 25 November 2012 - 09:12 PM

I'm with you Sean. :friends: The best scores I've ever posted were when I didn't think about anything. In fact, the scores were a surprise when added at the end. Whomever offered the advice to "free your mind" knew what they were talking about. The key to success for me is how to do so. I don't get there very often but when I do so is golfing bliss.
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#7 Nelson A

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Posted 04 December 2012 - 01:45 PM

View Postbutch33611, on 25 November 2012 - 05:58 PM, said:

I find I score better when im playing alone. Im not distracted by conversations and waitting too much between shots. I can take my time and think about the shot im trying to hit. On the other hand I do enjoy hangin out with the guys playin golf. Laughin and jokin with them definately takes my eye off the prize.

I agree man.  i did post my lowest round with a friend but am way more consistent by my self.

Great Article BTW

#8 Pepperturbo

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Posted 04 December 2012 - 01:59 PM

I too play my best when not thinking about much.  Good golf is about clarity of mind, focused preshot routine, my bail out area, and the last focus is my target.
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#9 MDP1555

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Posted 04 December 2012 - 02:19 PM

There is a major difference in focus and over thinking. In the golf game there is a time for analysis, a time for planning, a time for commitment and a time for athletic performance. Get any of these out of sequence and focus is lost. IMO focus is about training to keep the various process in the proper order, not missing obvious indicators but also it is equally about not letting confused or counter productive mental processes get in your way.

Too many people think focus means think real hard about the task at hand! However that is far from the case. Focus is about maintaining clarity of objective, acquiring accurate data, formulating a plan of attack based on accurate data then allowing the mental side to get out of the way so the athletic side can execute the plan.

Edited by MDP1555, 04 December 2012 - 02:20 PM.


#10 scotee

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Posted 04 December 2012 - 02:25 PM

View Postbutch33611, on 25 November 2012 - 05:58 PM, said:

I find I score better when im playing alone. Im not distracted by conversations and waitting too much between shots. I can take my time and think about the shot im trying to hit. On the other hand I do enjoy hangin out with the guys playin golf. Laughin and jokin with them definately takes my eye off the prize.

Me too! For another reason. No one sees me hit the 2nd ball or use my eraser on the card :taunt:


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#11 retexan599

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Posted 04 December 2012 - 02:53 PM

I sometimes lose focus on those things that I need to particularly incorporate in my play.  Sometimes I go several holes before I realize I am not keep my head still, or am swinging way too fast.  I have a list of these things that I review on my way to the course, but the key thoughts seem to vaporize between the parking lot and the 1st tee :-)  Maybe I need a short list on a business card that I can glance through at the 1st tee; anyone do something like that?

#12 MDP1555

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Posted 04 December 2012 - 03:19 PM

View Postretexan599, on 04 December 2012 - 02:53 PM, said:

I sometimes lose focus on those things that I need to particularly incorporate in my play.  Sometimes I go several holes before I realize I am not keep my head still, or am swinging way too fast.  I have a list of these things that I review on my way to the course, but the key thoughts seem to vaporize between the parking lot and the 1st tee :-)  Maybe I need a short list on a business card that I can glance through at the 1st tee; anyone do something like that?

IMO Maybe you need to work on your routine!

While not always  apperntly odvious to  everyone I can tell you that a well defined pre-shot routin goes a long way in allowing you to maintain focus, regardless if it is swing thoughts (which I feel are very counter productive once you have addressed the ball) or just general objective focus. Having a well defined pre shot routine where behind the ball you first analyze the requirments and conditions of the shot at hand, plan the shot, mentally image the shot, pratice the required swing then stop the mental process, address the ball and execute the athletic event goes a long way towards keeping the proper events in the proper sequence. This gives focus a definded format to follow.

The trouble for many players is this requires that the routine becomes "routine" happens every time with out fail. No matter if it is full swing practice shots at the range or in play shots on the course.  It must become routine or it is just another thought lost along the way. So this process needs practice just as the swing mechanics need practice.

All great players do this so that there is a defined format to follow as they play each shot. As I said this will helps eliminates the "I forgot" syndrome and establishes the propper time for analysis, planning, practice swing, alignment and execution as well as establish a pace to your play and practice. Without a well defined routine you will be always somewhat altering the sequence of events in your game.

Edited by MDP1555, 04 December 2012 - 03:24 PM.


#13 tyorke1

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Posted 04 December 2012 - 04:34 PM

Agree and disagree. Too many golfers think way to much about focusing. Focus for 30 sec and thats it, from your preshot to hitting., I hear I can't play when I get distrated , what a load of hog wash. What does someone having a quiet conversation in the back ground have with you hitting the ball, do you actually think you body won't remember how to hit it, come on you have to be tougher than that. I agree the sudden startel is tough but really still has nothing to do with hitting the ball. Usually when someone says they were distarted its an excuse to hit a bad shot, and I will go one father they want to hit a bad shot to say they were startled .Some people even think they will look more like REAL golfers if they try to be in the ZONE the entire round , man are these guys fun to play with.  Go to the driving range hit balls with your buddy and have a conversation while your hitting , I promise you will be fine and actually swing thought free and hit some great shots, this is something that is great to practice. . Then we get to the course and want total silence , maybe we should demand that when shooting free throws the crowd stays quiet and does not move. To be mentally tough these distractions should not make your body hit a bad shot, Put the golf shot on automatic and your mind on the target. If your scatter brain then thats something you should practice being better at.Practicing your mental weaknesses is really important, may save you a great round.  Keeping your focus on wind direction and yardage is okay but this does not mean total silence. . This is what I believe , you continually gather in information , write it down works better, as you approach your ball be mindful of wind and then what your yardage will be and the shot your seeing. When it's your turn be ready consentrate on the target and put things on automatic,   Unless your on the pga tour or playing is your living or I can accept tournaments the most important part of golf is being a good playing partner, you want to converse with your partners and have a laugh, I promise you can play well  without 4 hrs of intence focus. Learn to combine the right amount of focus with being a good playing partner will make you a better.

#14 blindwillie

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Posted 04 December 2012 - 08:10 PM

Great stuff on the topic of "focus". In golf it's important to differentiate between task-related focus and self-focus.  Research shows that elite athletes perform at higher levels when focus or attention is more task related as opposed to self related.  Pay attention to your thoughts and actions during a round, and if your self-talk statements begin with "I" you may be letting your mind get in the way. Allowing those thoughts to come and go while being 100% task focused will lead to better performance, especially when the heat it on.





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