Recently I have noticed a disturbing trend in my golf game: I play better alone. At least that’s how it feels. My last few rounds alone I have hit better shots, putted WAY better, and felt much better about myself afterwards. I cannot say the same for my past few rounds with friends. Inconsistency, poor club selection, and stupid decisions abound!
This realization is very concerning to me. I enjoy golfing with others. There is nothing better than golfing with my parents. I love teeing it up with good friends and sharing funny stories over the course of a round. And of course, it’s really hard to play in the Member-Guest as a single – in fact, it’s frowned upon.
I told my dad about it, and we had a good laugh. He has always enjoyed a solo round, he said. In fact his lowest round ever was played alone. I asked him how many mulligans he hit. He said none, and I believe him. He said he didn’t really need any that day.
Still not convinced that I was cured, I talked it over with my buddy, the Member in the aforementioned Member-Guest. We’ve both been struggling to get our games where we need them, so we’ve been lamenting. He had recently played with a very good golfer who had told him a few “secrets” during the round. They had a great time sharing stories and laughing during the round. Sounds like the plan, right?
Over the cold beer after the round, they added up the scores and this guy had shot 68. While joking around, laughing, and talking the whole time. How could he do this, my friend asked? He’d have to be laser focused to play that well, no way he could shoot that well while also having a good time.
It’s simple, the good golfer said: I focus for 60 seconds on each shot. We can shoot the shit between shots, laugh and joke all we want, but when it’s time to hit the shot I get focused on the task at hand. Sixty seconds is all you need. Check the yardage, your lie, the wind, and the shot. Pick your club. Focus on your swing thoughts, and execute.
This is not the first time I’ve heard this, but it resonated with me given my recent plight. I just haven’t been focused!
When I golf alone I am in MY zone – music playing, hit the shot when I want (when I’m ready!), and basically just chill. Also – don’t tell the USGA – I hit multiple shots, and usually take the best as my gamer. Miss the 4-footer? Rake it back and roll it again.
It’s not always that easy with others. Sometimes you have to wait longer between shots. Or someone is telling a story and you’re ready to hit. Or you’re telling a story and it’s your shot! Either way, you get out of your rhythm and lose FOCUS.
Yesterday was the test: could I focus on each shot as an individual effort? Could I execute my plan while also having a good time with friends? The answer? A resounding YES! I played close to my best round ever yesterday – hitting good shots, executing the plan, and reaping the rewards on the scorecard.
This comes on the heels of a conversation I’d had with my dad about how long the pros take to play each shot. I’m not suggesting that I am going to take forever to play each shot, or that you should. All I am saying is that I need to focus on each shot, 1 at a time.
I did the math. I typically shoot around 80. 60 seconds x 80 shots = 1:20. An hour and twenty minutes! I definitely think I can concentrate for 60 seconds 80 times in four hours. And I think my game is going to be better because of it! Wanna join me for a round?