We humans are good at obsessing about the past, what went wrong with it, and how it could have been better. We are also good at worrying about the future, and what it may or may not hold for us. We are not as good however, at being absorbed in the present.
This goes for golfers out on the golf course as well, and has a negative effect on our play. This is something that needs to be worked on and given attention. If a professional golfer has this problem of dwelling on the past, or prognosticating about the future during their tournament play, they will not be playing professional golf for long. Their games will reflect this lack of presence in the here and now.
It is imperative for players on the PGA and LPGA Tour to stay in the moment, not letting their thoughts and emotions wander off irresponsibly. In order to compete at their level, the professionals have to be 100% focused on the shot at hand. This is also important for amateurs, so that they can get the most out of their games. Here are a few things to keep in mind:
1) Let the Future Take Care of Itself: Instead of thinking about what you may shoot that day, or what you can shoot if you do such and such on the next several holes, be totally absorbed in only your shot at hand.
Start taking in all the information for your shot before you get to your ball. As you are walking up to your ball, start assessing the wind, how many yards you have to the hole, your lie, how you’ve been hitting the ball that day, and what the shot will look like. Then when you get to the ball, you can make your decision on what club to hit and what shot you want to attempt, making your best effort at doing that. You cannot control the shot, but you can choose and control what pre-shot thoughts and routine you will focus on.
2) Let Go of the Double Bogeys: If you are still thinking about what happened two holes ago, your play is only going to get worse. Regardless of how you’ve been hitting up to that point, and regardless of what you may shoot that day, those past holes are over and you can only affect your present shot at hand. You can analyze those bad shots after the round, but in the meanwhile do your best on each shot at hand, always!
3) Be an Observer of Yourself: There are two ways to react to a golf shot on the golf course, objectively and subjectively. We can respond rationally and reasonably, or we can react in an emotionally temperamental way. The best way for the betterment of our golf games and for our happiness, is to react in a calm and level-headed manner.
This may not always be possible, however, due to our humanness and maturity level at the time. So if you have to occasionally make a spectacle of yourself and react emotionally to your golf game, do it quickly. If you get mad at a bad shot, do it for a few seconds and be done with it, then move onward. Don’t dwell on the good or bad, for it isn’t productive or helpful, but rather is indulgent, embarrassing, and destructive.
While out there playing, try to be an objective observer of your tension level, your thoughts, and your swing tempo; rather than being oblivious and only noticing what the ball has done. Awareness of the process, our body movements, and the swinging motion of the club, go a long way toward improvement of our golf shots and game!