In the simplest terms, the goal of golf is to land a small ball into a small hole, by hitting the ball with a club as infrequently as possible.
When I am out on the golf course training my clients to use their brains in the most efficient way possible in order to achieve the above goal, it is often necessary to point out many unconscious habits that contradict this simple goal of golf. One of the most baffling is the neglect of the short game.
…the ball lands on the green, the player is as close as s/he has ever been to striking the ball into the hole and then s/he stops playing. Not in a physical sense, but in a mental sense. Without due care the ball is struck, it misses, it is casually struck again, misses, and is then picked up without it having landed in the hole. We move to the next tee.
It seems that by reaching the green, the goal has been achieved, and the act of putting the ball into the hole is arbitrary.
When I point out this flaw in the game plan, excuses and justifications are made that this is just practice. While this may be true, one must be careful what one is practicing. The brain is learning all the time and part of brain training is to become aware of what we are teaching it.
The unintended consequence of the failure to complete each hole by sinking the ball, is that your brain shifts its goal from landing the ball in the hole, to landing the ball on the green. Less value is placed on the short game, which suffers, creating a negative response to the short game. Finally the brain forms the idea that – I am bad at the short game – a self-fulfilling prophesy that begins by not finishing every hole with a shot that is specifically aimed at sinking the ball in the hole.
A first step in improving your game is to clarify to yourself with each shot that the aim is to get the ball into the hole as efficiently as possible. By clarifying the goal, your brain has a very specific instruction, which it will translate into the right action required to achieve this goal.
In a nutshell
- With each shot ask yourself — why am I here?
- Answer clearly– to get this ball into that hole, using the least amount of shots possible.
- The hole is not over until the ball is in the hole, and for added impact, until you have congratulated yourself for achieving this goal, no matter how many shots it took.
Your game is bound to improve.