Think less, play more: Transfering confidence from the practice range to the course
How many players do you know who just whack 100 drivers on the range and wow themselves with how straight they go? I see it all the time. Funny then, that as soon as they get on the first tee they’re a gibbering wreck. All that smooth rhythm, timing and finesse miraculously goes out the window. I frequently get asked why players can’t transfer the confidence they acquire on the driving range onto the golf course itself. The answer is simple. On the golf course you hit a variety of shots, long and short, and you only get one chance to get it right. It’s a far cry from hitting ball after ball into a big field with only a couple of clubs. So if you really want to nail it down the stretch, play the golf course in practice!
DOs and DON'Ts
DON'T – just hit the same club over and over all day – you’re not rehearsing what happens on the course. By all means fine tune your swing, just build this in too.
DO – imagine yourself on Hole 1. Use the range to picture where the fairway is, how the hole curves, where the bunkers are. Pick a small target in your imaginary fairway and play for that.
DO – select the club you would hit on the hole. Go through your full routine and then try to imagine where the shot would have gone. If you reckon you’ve got 160 yards from the left rough, picture that shot in your mind and give yourself one chance to nail it. Even if you’ve only got 30 yards, pick a target and play that pitch! Stop when you’re sure you’d be putting.
If you like, you can play the whole golf course like this. I think it’s also good to set yourself mini-challenges. For example, imagine you’re leading your club medal. Say to yourself that you’re going to play Holes 16-18 and you’ve got to finish one under to win. Make it tough for yourself. Even if you don’t get it right first time, you will be training yourself mentally to cope better when the time comes.