“All I had to do was make a par on 18 and I would have __________ (broken 100/90/80/70 for the first time, beaten my brother, etc…you fill in the blank), but I made a double…”
This is a quote I have heard far too often in my career as a golf professional. When I watch it happen it is almost always avoidable.
If you have even gotten far enough in a round to have a story like this one, then you have been doing something right all day– don’t change it now.
The simplest way to avoid this from happening is to focus on the process, not on the result.
On #1 we usually aren’t that worried about our score for the day, it could be anything– good or bad. At that point in the round we haven’t hit enough shots to have a sense of what the outcome might be, so we just focus on making the best motion at the ball we can.
As soon as there is a foreseeable result in the air, we may be tempted to think about that instead of what we are trying to accomplish with this shot. We become focused on the outcome.
As Stan Utley talks about in his book “The Art of Putting”, there are lots of reasons a putt may not go in that are completely out of our control. So why think about the putt going in? Why not focus solely on how to make the best possible stroke we can at the ball?
After all, that is truly the only part we have complete control over. Roll it perfect and then we’ll see if it goes in.
We have a guy at our club that always adds up all the scores on the 18th tee and then tells everyone what they have to shoot to beat him. By doing this he shifts all his playing partners focus from what they are doing to what the outcome needs to be. He’s been doing it for years and it amazes me how many times the stories in the clubhouse revolve around how someone in his group blew up on #18.
Do your best not to worry about the outcome of the shot and trust that a well executed swing will end with the result you are looking for. If you have been taking three practice swings before every tee shot and thinking about keeping your right elbow close to your body on the downswing all day, don’t change that now just because you are about to shoot your low round of the year.
When you’re in a place on the golf course to reach a personal goal or achieve a milestone, trust that what you have been doing to get you there will continue to work. What you have been doing is the process, the reason you are in the place to even think about it is the result.
Focus on the process, enjoy the result.