Golf's Mental Edge!

by Doug

During a round in a Match Play Tournament in Scottsdale Arizona, I was locked up in a match with a guy with a higher handicap. But by using his strokes wisely and playing smart he was staying right with me through the first six holes of our match. The seventh and eight holes however, was when everything changed! The swing in my favor was a result of his melt-down on the seventh hole.

Now in his defense, I had a lot more experience playing golf and much more experience in tournament situations. That difference in the number of rounds logged by each of us proved the difference-maker in how this round played out.

The seventh hole was a dog-leg left par five and we both hit tee shots trying to cut off a bit of the corner, but both thought our shots went too far left so we each hit provisional balls just in case. Both our provisional balls were in play so we headed off the tee and around the corner just to see. Well, never having played the course before neither of us knew just how much the fairway opened up around the corner, but when we got there both our drives were sitting right in the middle of the fairway.

Trouble from there was we each took five more strokes to get the balls down and each walked off the hole with a bogey. His stroke on the hole actually gave him a net par and the hole win and put him up one on our match, but the mental damage of the bogey was already done. I was disappointed, but was better able to just let it go and move on. He was not!

Walking off the green he was cussing himself out and slamming his club on the ground. All I was thinking was that if he didn't get a hold of his emotions the rest of this round was gonna be a walk in the park.

The eight hole was a par three with a slightly elevated tee box that gave way to a flower bed that sat between the front of the tee box and the cart path cutting across left to right. I hit a soft eight iron to the 155 yard pin and left myself with about 20 feet for birdie (eventually making a two put par).

My opponent stepped to his ball on the tee box still cussing and club-slamming and proceeded to top his tee shot into the flower bed just in front of the green. He went on to make a triple bogey on that par three and never recovered.

Always "Give yourself permission to hit the ball anywhere" on every shot, because sometimes you will. Also, maintain a very short memory on both your poor shots as well as your great ones, because your round is only as good as your next shot, and then the cumulative total of all the shots you have taken when your round is done.

Have fun, play smart and "Hit 'em Straight and Not too Often!"

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