Chapter 9 is titled: “The Weakest Link Breaks Under Pressure”. A good title but I think Dr. Jensen could have used his other phrase: “Stop Calling Yourself a Choker”.
Chances are you aren’t a choker. In my opinion, the phrase “choke”, while a real condition, is overused. I define choking as failing to do something for which you are an expert. However, reality is often the opposite!
Dr. Jensen gives several examples of famous “chokes” on the PGA. But analyze them further and they are just confirmations of a breakdown in the weakest link. Take Phil Mickelson using driver on the 72 the 2006 U.S. Open. Choke? I think he just tried to rely on his weakest link. He hit less than 50% of the fairways that week and ranked worst on the PGA Tour for driving accuracy.
Failure in golf usually occurs with your least skillful shot – your weakest link. You didn’t choke. You just didn’t have a good golf practice routine. I really like the description of a weak link. Imagine a chain simply hanging from the ceiling. Without pressure even the weak links remain connected. But once pulled, it comes apart. When simply hanging, the chain is it its comfort zone – like hitting balls on the range. So how do you get a comfort zone on the course when your ‘chain is pulled’? Consider these:
1) Create a similar comfort zone while on the golf course. Give yourself positive encouraging thoughts when confronted with difficult situations. Make it seem like the range. The HEAD Coach, Greg Liberto, offers some excellent thoughts on this option.
2) Another option is to use a golf practice routine of the difficult shots until they are less intimidating. This was the main point of Chapter 8: To Transfer It to the Course, Practice Like You Play. Remember, though, creativity matters!
I think the most interesting topic in this chapter, however, is how it plays right into the concept: what gets measured gets fixed. If you measure yourself you will better understand your weakest link and be in a position to use that knowledge to your advantage on the course.
Tour professionals have access to a wealth of information. For instance, I hope Phil understood his driving statistic but just chose to ignore it. You can collect your own statistics. I shared some examples of mine a few weeks ago. What are yours?
If you don’t yet have any measurements there are still some common situations you can prepare for. In a recent article, Golf Digest offered examples of The Most Intimidating Shots in Golf and How To Prepare For Them.
Trouble down the side of a fairway? Hit drives down the edge of the range! Must make six foot putt? Spend an evening on the practice green! Deep bunkers? Get into a golf practice routine in bunkers!
There are my thoughts on Chapter 9. Join the discussion! Share your opinions! If you don’t have a copy of the book you can still get one and catch up. Also, if you miss a week, my archived blogs are at: http://usgolftv.com/author/steve-zahn/
If you want you can also contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org