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Mental Briefs For Better Golf

Losing Focus After A Great Front Nine?

by Nick Rosa, Ph.D

This article is a response to the following question:

I just recently had a round where I shot 1 over on the front nine and proceeded to hack up the back pretty badly. All I could think about was my final score and the possibilities of how low it could be. I tried to stay in the present and concentrate on the shot at hand but was unsuccessful.
What can I do to forget about my final score?

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Comments:

I assume that you must have been pretty excited about your 1 over and the prospects of combining it with a phenomenal score on the back 9. Therefore, before I prescribe a strategy for staying focused on your shots under such circumstances, I’d like to address the human need for excitement..

We all recognize primary or life sustaining, human, needs; needs satisfied by food, air, water and the like. Less obvious are our secondary needs, e.g., our need for excitement. If anyone doubts such a need, consider our thirst to engage in activities that excite; activities such as sky diving, bungie jumping, hand gliding, thrilling amusement park rides and the like. Moreover, we have a need to engage in thoughts that excite us.

So, when we’re thirsty, we think about drinking something, say water. Try to think of anything else and we spontaneously go back to thinking about drinking water. Now, with water available, would taking only a sip be sufficiently satisfying? No! We would have to drink enough water to satisfy our thirst for it. Drink sufficiently and we are able to turn our thoughts elsewhere.

Now, getting back to you and your sucessful start. Given that your thinking about the possibility of how low your final score could be was exciting, your natural tendency was to continue engaging in such thinking until your need for excitement was satisfied.

My hypothesis is that you tried, too soon, to focus on your shots. In attempting to stay focused on your shots too soon, you denied your need for excitement to be sufficiently satisfied. Thus, the more you tried to stay focused on your shots, the more the pull to focus on the outcome.

My prescription. In the future when you do great on the front 9, take a few minutes, if necessary, and indulge yourself by imagining playing great on the back and/or how low your score will be. Let your excitement build to a satisfactory level (figuratively, take more than a sip); then you will be ready to be more fully focused on the shots at hand.... Let me know how well this prescription works for you.

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