Overcoming poor golf – Club Championship article #3

The thing with golf is that you’re never going to be able to play each shot well. If you play long enough, there will be times when you hit the worst shot at the worst possible time. You’ve only got to watch Tiger Woods for a duration of a tournament to see that he can hit some shockers. Perfect golf is not an option.

In the first match play round of the Club Championships I got off to a good start and was three up after five holes. Then I played the 6th hole badly. Poor tee shot, worse second, another chip out and then duffed a pitch into a bunker. I couldn’t have played worse if I tried.

But it did get worse…

I completely duffed my tee shot on 7 (a par 3). It didn’t make it half-way to the hole. By this time I was a little embarrassed and quite quickly had gone from three up and was back to one.

Then something strange happened.

Standing in the middle of the par 5 8th after an OK drive, I was contemplating what to do with my second shot. The option was to lay up short of the green or go for it.

Going for it required a 217 metre shot to a back right hole location. If I could pull it off it would guarantee a win on the hole. The concern was the previous two holes didn’t have me brimming with confidence. The easy layup second seemed like the right option.

But I changed my mind. I decided to go for the green with one of my favourite shots. A low and hard draw with my three-iron.

I went through my routine, relaxed and swung freely. The ball came out as planned. It started low, curved around the bunkers and rolled onto the green finishing a few metres from the hole. It was by far the best shot I had hit in the last few weeks. It felt great and gave me a surge of confidence that got the game going in the right direction.

The strange bit was actually realising I had gone from hitting some terrible shots to hitting one of my best shots of the year. All in the space of a few minutes.

I played the remaining holes well and won the match by the 15th. After the game my opponent was curious to how I could go from shocking golf on six and seven to playing near flawless golf. It’s a good question and here’s my take.

I didn’t panic at any stage. Despite the temptation to think and analyse I didn’t get caught up in the thinking of, “What am I doing wrong?”. I put the bad holes down to exactly that – badly played holes. This mindset keeps things in perspective and helps keep my mind in the present.

I stayed true to my style of play. I didn’t try and play conservatively or swing safely. I dug my heels in and swung as freely as possible. This is what works well for me and I wasn’t about to change for anything.

On the 8th hole I hit one of my favourite shots. It’s always a good idea to return to a shot you like or are good at. If you’re struggling during your round go back and play the shots you’ve had the most success with. This may mean that you stop hitting driver from the tee!

Playing well after a poor stretch of golf doesn’t require any magic. It takes commitment and discipline to stick to what you know works. Golf is a difficult game and if you can accept the odd poor shot or two you’ll do just fine.

Good golf is not about doing something well once. It’s about committing to playing your way for the duration – shot after shot for each round you play. This is the only way I know that works and allows for those remarkable shots to appear every now and then.

Remarkable golf is what makes the game fun. If you’re not getting your own version of remarkable then you’re missing out.

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  • Steady

    Reply Reply November 17, 2009

    Hi Cam,
    the guy you were playing must of thought that you had a kink in your armour. Just goes to show you that by thinking correctly you can overcome fear, anxiety and doubt by trusting what you are doing.

  • Gregor

    Reply Reply November 18, 2009

    it’s actually quite good to know that really good players have times when their game goes off during a round. It’s even better to know that with a bit of discipline you can get things back on track.
    Personally I am finding that when things are going off I need to think whether I had comitted to my routine and playing automatically on a bad shot. I am finding that I tend to lapse back into my old traits – worrying about my score, trying to find the cause of the problem etc. This needs to be checked constantly during the round to keep me on track. By doing this I can stop some of the real disaster rounds from happening before it’s tto late


  • Tony Lucas (Lukey)

    Reply Reply November 19, 2009

    You have totally hit the nail on the head because none of us are perfect and having the discipline to maintain your mindset WILL CARRY YOU THROUGH .Perfect example was with my game last week when I had a nine on our seventh my playing partner feared I had stuffed up a good round but I immediately dismissed it as a bad hole stayed with the process and parred the next.
    Cheers Lukey

  • Cameron Strachan

    Reply Reply November 22, 2009

    @Steady: Yep, probably. I didn’t play well in this round last year and I was determined not to get off track this time.

    @Gregor: It happens all the time. If a good player tells you that she doesn’t get nervous or never loses the plot then I don’t think she is being honest.

    It takes discipline. It’s like you’ve got to hit your way out of the problem rather than thinking too much about it.

    @Lukey: Yep. That’s it. We will ALWAYS make mistakes. No matter how good we are and how much we play. The trick is to learn how to handle these mistakes and not let then odd bad shot ruin our day.

    Thanks for posting guys,


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