Becoming a Good Golfer

Yesterday morning I was at the range. The assistant pro and I were on the putting green. We got to talking about this and that, and the conversation got into the time when he was an aspiring tournament player. In comparing the difference between his game now, and what it was at that time (he was +4), and he is still a young man, he said it came down to two things: desire and focus.

There was a time when he was practicing and playing every day, because he had the desire, and all that time with a club in his hand gave him the focus to play his best every time he hit a golf ball. That’s what it took to be good on professional terms.

It seems to me, that’s what it takes to be good no matter what your goals are. Probably none of are going to become +4 handicap golfers, much less scratch or even single-digit. Talent aside, we don’t have the time. But to become the good golfer we wish to be, we must have the desire and the focus it takes to get there. If you have that, no matter how much, or how little, time you have to practice and play, you can get the most out of it. Quantity of practice counts, but the quality of your practice is just as important.

You could start with practicing at home. There are always spare moments you can devote to the part of the game that is troubling you, and just a little practice, frequently done, goes a long way. A two-hour trip to the range once a week is enough time to practice everything – putting, chipping, pitching, and your swing. If you can practice more than that, even better.

The important thing, though, is to apply desire and focus to your practice throughout the session. That means you practice because you want to get better at golf, not because practice is an enjoyable way to spend some time, or some such reason as that. Your motivation for even picking up a club is that you want to get better.

Being focused means that every time you hit a golf ball your mind is fully engaged on what you’re doing. If you have ten golf balls, hitting every one is a unique event. There’s no hitting the first one and doing that again nine times. Every time you address a new ball you start over, with your grip, your setup, and especially with your mind.

In order to play your best golf, your mind must be in the right place as you hit the ball. Practicing that is every bit as important as practicing your technique. If you’re practicing technique, by all means, take as many practice swings as you need to be satisfied that you’re doing it right. But when you step up to the ball, your mental task is to let go of any thought of technique and let your habits take over. A major part of any practice session it to practice having total confidence in what you have trained yourself to do, from address to follow-through.

That’s focus. It’s hard to come by unless you practice it. If you do, you will get the most out of what you have learned, every time you play. To learn that focus, well, it’s hard work. You have to want to. That’s desire. Put those two together and you’ll be a good golfer — one who gets everything out of his or her talent and technique, regardless of the score that gets made.


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