What makes the tour pro’s great?
I’m sure if you tried to answer and someone was nearby to actually hear you, you’d answer with a list of attributes. The one attribute that I am interested in is preparedness.
How to do you prepare to golf? We can break that down even further. How do you mentally prepare to golf? How do you physically prepare to golf? Don’t answer.
I am a fan of the Golf Channel as probably most of you are that read this. They have a show called, On the Range. The show is basically a color commentary of teachers in the studio watching on a large screen how tour pro’s practice prior to the start of a tournament.
I find myself saying-I do that. I do that too. Wait, what was that? I am going to try that.. I think when we physically prepare for a round we emulate what we see or how we were taught.
If we have time…
Many of us are working stiffs. We try to fit golf in around things in our life whether it be work or family. That means that most of the time we hustle to the course. Change our shoes in the parking lot. Pay. Meet our foursome on the first tee. Take a couple of practice swings with a couple of irons to loosen up. Tee it up and off we go. Is it any coincidence that our back nine scores are usually better than our front nine? (A personal side note: my brother is the only human being that can step out of his car and stripe it down the fairway. A solid 260. It kills me everytime I see it.)
Let’s look at the other side of this. What if you did have time to prepare? What would you do? Why? Many of us on the range start with a wedge and work our way to the driver. Then we head to the practice green (which is probably where we should start and stay-but that”s just me) But, why? Has it been successful for you? As I write this, I am reminded of Tom Watson. He starts with a long iron. He’s pretty good from what I heard.
The bottom line is that what separates us from tour pro’s is obviously talent but time-on-task and preparedness are close behind. We don’t have the talent. We don’t have the time.
We don’t have to make a living at it either.
The mental and the physical go hand-in-hand in any sport. With golf, though, it seems to be magnified. When you approach the first tee before you even hit a ball whether you’ve warmed up or not, what are you thinking about? Are your thoughts positive or negative?
Has your inner voice said the following:
● Just get it in the fairway
● Don’t go left
● Don’t go right
● Don’t shank it
● Man, there are a lot people watching me right now
● 240 to carry the water
I would classify these thought as primarily negative in that they are telling your mind what not to do which in turn your body does (I know it’s weird but many sports psychologists say this).
I think whether you have time to physically warm up or not, your mental approach can have a tremendous effect on your game. Instead of the above negative thoughts, maybe you should try repeating certain swing keys (that what I do). I also heard that some tour pro’s sing to themselves to develop a rhythm. Try it but, please, don’t tell me what you are singing.
Either way, the best way to mentally prepare for a round before you even strike the ball is to keep thoughts simple, focused and positive. Stay in the moment. Don’t let yourself slip and say the following:
If I can just get off to a good start, I will probably have a chance to break (insert your number here).
Each shot counts whether it is on the range or on the first tee. I think that’s the way tour pro’s think. Each time they swing the club and strike a ball, it has a purpose.
What is your purpose when you mentally or physically prepare for a round?
Keep it simple, in the present and positive.
Mike Fay Golf Staff Writer