10/16/2013

Imagine a perfect fall day, temperature in the high 70’s, no wind and you are playing your favorite hole on the course. It is an uphill par 5 that you view as child’s play. You crush a 330 yard draw right down the center of the fairway. As you walk up to your approach shot you see that you have 205 left to the hole. You proceed to hit a perfect cut shot just fifteen feet above the pin. As you walk up to your putt you say aloud “I better not leave it short.” You hit the putt and it is anything but short. You blow it about eight feet past the hole and have a straight uphill putt coming back. As you stand over it you say “I left this same putt short on the sixth hole.” You proceed to hit the putt and oddly enough, you miss another one.

This exact scenario occurred during a practice round with my St. John Fisher student Jeff P., about three weeks ago. Jeff’s teammate, Steve, was the one who hit two beautifully effortless golf shots, followed up by two bad putts and even worse communication. The first thing that came to mind when I heard Steve talk about leaving it short was “SHUT UP and Hit Your Target.” This is no knock on Steve, it is just exemplifying the fact that most golfers are completely oblivious to the fact that what they think, and what they say, really does matter. If you have a tendency to look at the trouble spots on a hole, you need to quiet your mind and “Hit Your Target.” Shutting up isn’t just about shutting down the negative self talk, it’s also about shutting down your eyes from looking for trouble and focusing solely on your target. Why would you focus on where you don’t want your ball to go? If you are famous for complaining about slow play in front of you, take the time to “SHUT UP and Hit Your Target.” Shutting up in this situation is really about shutting up and resisting the temptation to complain. Complaining does nothing for your game, and less for your playing partners. Complaining takes away from your enjoyment of the game, and is just setting the stage for your built in excuse on why you played poorly today.

It’s really easy for me to identify negative communication in others because I was that player. I was the one with all of the negative self talk, the temper and the built in excuses on the 19th hole. Now I just focus my energies on hitting my target and focusing on the positives. While it sounds really simple, it is. However it starts with enhancing your communication both on and off the course. When you start to focus on all the things you want in your life, you too will have a tendency to just quietly “Hit your Target.”

To play better golf today, just “SHUT UP and Hit Your Target”

Greg Liberto

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