The Scenario: You’re playing reasonably well and surprisingly quick golf. Not only are you impressed at your speed of play but at the accuracy with which every putt is moving towards the hole. You have played so quickly that the foursome ahead of you is waving you up. I don’t know how that moment plays out for all of you but for me, it is as if I no longer know how to play the game of golf. Hooks and slices have out of nowhere reestablishing themselves as the dominating forces over my game.
The Question: Why did that happen? I was doing so well. A book I have come to love and highly recommend to everyone (Zen Golf by Dr. Joseph Parent) does a magnificent job of explaining why this phenomenon occurs. In a nut shell when we try to play through, we speed up our tempo. Plus, if we’re playing well, the pressure to maintain our level of performance on the through shot seems to weigh extra heavy. Unlike the holes previously conquered, you now have a gallery that in your subconscious mind continually chants “your feet aren’t lined up, your club is too closed, don’t cast your hands, don’t push, don’t hook, don’t slice, don’t choke…” and so on.
While playing a round at a local course the other day, this added pressure was doubled. This pressure to change one’s tempo can also happen if the people behind you are playing quickly. You can’t avoid these scenarios so how do you cope?
The way I see it is this, you paid the same amount to play and therefore those around you can wait (assuming you’re playing within a reasonable amount of time. If you take 5 minutes just to top the ball 50 to 100 yards over and over my suggestion to you is go back to the range and get your swing sorted out.) However, if you’re playing at a decent tempo and people want to be rude and hit into you, don’t be afraid to let them play through. Other players hitting into you doesn’t necessarily mean you’re slow, it could mean they are playing quickly. Let them go on. What will it hurt you? If your mind is in the right spot then someone playing through won’t disturb your tempo. On the other side, if those in front of you are not playing the same speed you are and you feel the need to play through, don’t forget to breathe. Before you hit that tee shot be sure that your body is feeling the same tempo you were just playing at. There’s no need to speed up. Just follow the same routine you have been and take deep breaths, this will slow down the blood pumping through your system.
Side note: if you feel like you’re nerves are going to get you because of pressure to play well, don’t be afraid to hit a club that you’re very comfortable with just to reassure your body and mind that you know what you’re doing.
The statements and opinions of this article are meant for inspiration and entertainment only. If you need help with your golf game, please seek your local golf professional for one on one instruction.