It seems like this is the time of year where most of my students are starting to see progress in their games. Some may be hitting it better, some may be consistently taking money from buddies, other shoot their lowest score ever. But it seems like I hear one consistent gripe from most all of them… “I JUST MADE A FEW STUPID LITTLE MISTAKES.”
As a golf pro, the first 5-10 minutes of pretty much every lesson I give usually involves the student telling me in detail about their latest round, and in almost every version there are the “stupid little things” they do to keep from having a great round. Below are three “stupid little things” and how to eliminate them.
Stupid Little Thing #1 – “I was playing my best round, then made a big number on the last hole”
This is probably one of the most common ones I get and unfortunately, there is really no quick fix for this. One of the greatest things about golf is that the nerves and pressure that players feel can be identical. A guy who is about to break 100 for the first time can feel identical to a tour pro on the verge of shooting 59. We tend to tense up, don’t adjust for adrenaline and allow one shot to destroy our goals. It’s a natural reaction to being in a place we’ve never been before. Next time you’re in this situation, take a deep breath and remember that you’re in that moment for a reason, because you’ve played good enough to be there. Maybe it works, maybe it doesn’t, but either way, you’ll be better prepared the next time you’re in that situation.
Stupid Little Thing #2 – “I was playing great, then had one bad hole and everything fell apart”
This is one of my least favorite stupid little things to hear. First, it acknowledges that momentum is real in golf… it isn’t. Second, it shows how big of mental midgets some of my students can be. Most of the time, once a student makes a big number the narrative becomes all too familiar…”There is goes again, another good round down the tube.” What we need to do is accept the challenge of bouncing back from a big number. The two biggest lessons that I learned playing college golf were to always think my score would count and to never give up on a round. Entering my freshman year, I would do what most golfers do, make a big number and think all was lost. Today, if I make a big number I relish at the chance to say “ I shot 68 with a snowman.” For my students, change your narrative. If you make a big number, look at it as an opportunity to let loose and play great coming in rather than just throwing in the towel.
Stupid Little Thing # 3 – “I played great, I just couldn’t make the short putts” or “I just kept three putting”
News flash- putting is part of golf. You can’t play great and not putt good. It’s almost without fail, a good round is “I hit it great and putted bad” while a bad round is “I hit it terrible, my putter was the only thing that saved me.” As much as I hate it, there is a reason for this. Most players tend to rate themselves a better putter than they actually are, because for the most part, they don’t rely on their putting. When they are hitting it better than average, they are probably hitting more greens in regulation and now have more emphasis on the putter. My point, continue to practice your putting, especially your 3 footers. Here’s my tip for playing a three footer… play them all straight in. From three feet, you can have your club face vary by 4 degrees either way and still hit the hole. This is a massive margin for error considering the putter face naturally rotates about 1 degree on a short putt like that. My experience with amateurs is that they tend to make short putts more complicated than they are. Very few three foot putts will break across the hole (especially in the Spokane area) so don’t read more into it than is necessary. Keep it simple, aim for the center, hit it with conviction and tie your great ball striking round together with great putting as well.
Hopefully these will eliminate your stupid little things… If not, Come see me! I’d love to help out!