Remaining focused for 18 holes of golf can be difficult. Many players become distracted, which can cost them a number of strokes. Here are a few tips to help keep your head in the game for your entire round.
To remain completely focused for 4-5 hours (the average playing time of 18 holes) is nearly impossible. Great players are able to relax between shots, but then return to the “zone” and completely focus their thoughts on their shot when it’s their turn.
I call this “Owning Your 40 Seconds.” It takes approximately 40 seconds to execute a shot. Remaining completely focused for 40 seconds per shot is much more reasonable than 4-5 hours.
It’s important to let your mind take a break between shots, like thinking about things other than golf while you’re walking to your next shot. Some players use this time to chat with their playing partners, for example. But when it’s your turn to hit, you must be able to return to your zone of complete focus.
But “owning your 40 seconds” is not just about focusing during your shot. It’s also about taking control of the tee box during your 40 seconds. This 40 seconds is yours, so don’t let anything (or anyone) take it from you.
Does it bother you when you are paired with players you don’t know? Or if there are others watching you tee off on the first hole? What if the group in front of you is slow and won’t let you play through? Or if you just took a high score on your last hole? And what if that slice that you’ve been working on works its way back into your game?
Believe it or not, these are all things that are “not in your control” during your round. Ultimately, where the ball ends up is also not in your direct control. You could hit a perfect shot, exactly as you were intending, only to find that it takes a bad bounce and ends up in a bad position.
So why do we worry about things that are not in our control? Do you think that by wasting your energy on worrying about these uncontrollable variables will help you hit a better golf shot? I would argue that it would hinder you from executing great shots. Yet golfers are plagued by these distractions all the time!
To successfully block out these distractions, you must take control of your time during your shot and own your 40 seconds. There are many things that are not in your control. However, one thing that is definitely in your control is how you think through the shot.
What was it like when you hit the best shot of your life? Take a moment to recall what that was like, and use your senses. What did it feel like? What did it look like? What sound did it make? How did the rhythm and timing of your swing feel? What did your playing partners say?
Some of the responses that I’ve heard from students is that it felt natural, effortless, and smooth. Maybe it made a particular sound. The soft feeling in the hands as the ball comes off the club perfectly is another great example.
Now, next time you hit a shot on the course, recall that moment when you hit this club perfectly. What would it be like to hit that shot right now? Then pull the trigger. You will be surprised how natural your mind and body work together to produce the shots you’ve dreamed of hitting every day.
Focus on the process of hitting the upcoming shot. And don’t worry about the things that are not in your control. That’s the best piece of advice that I can ever give, and that counts for both on and off the golf course!
Jennifer is the Director of Instruction at the Chilliwack Golf Academy in British Columbia, and is a member of the LPGA T&CP, and PGA of Canada. She played on the University of Washington Women’s team, and then played professionally on tour for over 10 years, including 2 years on the LPGA. She was also named the 2010 CN Canadian Women’s Tour Low Teaching Pro of the Year, and is the 2015 and 2010 Pepsi Northwest Women’s Open Champion.