How to stop choking on the golf course
Stuffing up the last few holes seems to be a common problem. Just this week I received an email from Julie who managed to lose the last four holes in her match to finish square. This type of thing can be incredibly frustrating and unless you have a strategy, it can keep happening time and again.
In this lesson I’ll give you my ideas for combating choking. In fact, the golf lessons below will make you bullet-proof and enable you to finish off every golf game in style. Before I get going check out Julie’s email below:
Can you help me with a specific problem I have just developed? My last 9 rounds are in my “top ten” cards all within one or so of my handicap. This is not a good thing cos the more it has gone on, the more I have noticed how I tend to tighten up on the last couple of holes (trying to protect a good score). I was willing to try and work through this but today I played the first pennant match of the season. I was dormie 4 up and ended with a squared match. Good grief… Cam, I know the theory.. play automatically every hole..shut the door on the opposition.. play not to to protect a good position but go all out to see how low you can score etc….
Any thoughts on a method I can work on to overcome this reluctance to get out of the comfort zone and play freely?
Here’s my best thoughts on how to stop choking on the golf course:
Understand the difference between choking and panic
This one is important. Many get the two confused and if you don’t understand it you’ll repeatedly stuff up when the pressure is on. Here’s the Cameron version.
Choking is when you think too much and panicking is when you don’t think enough. This might sound confusing but it’s really simple. The process for learning and then implementing it is outlined in full here. (it’s premium content and requires full membership).
Next is a brief rundown.
Know when to think and when not to
Sometimes you need to think – water, wind, trouble, and what club to hit. The thinking is done before the act of hitting the ball. Automatic golf is not about NOT thinking all of the time. It’s about learning to know HOW to use your brain and subconscious mind together to give you the results you want.
Stop your wheels spinning is a term I use to calm the mind. When the pressure is on it’s normal for your little brain motor to go into over drive. Boy is this hard work and tiring. Learn to relax, slow down and I promise you’ll play better and find extra energy and enthusiasm.
This little step goes against the norm. Society wants us to think, analyse and try and work out every detail. It’s normal but it’s not going to help you swing a long stick and hit a tiny ball sitting on the ground when your heart is racing and you’re having trouble breathing.
Give yourself a break. Take it easy and you’ll do just fine.
Deal with reality
Don’t make up stories. These are lies that you tell yourself to justify poor (or good) golf. Your mum told you that lies are a bad thing and they are. On the golf course these little lies keep you from the moment and hide exactly what is in front of you.
Want an example?
You miss a small putt on the 1st and second green. Walking to the third tee you’re telling yourself that you can’t putt and that you’re the worst putter in the world. This is a story. The truth (reality) is that you’ve missed two tricky putts and everyone misses these from time to time.
Did anyone see Phil Mickelson in the third round of the Masters?
This might be the most important. I’m pretty sure that winners in all walks off life don’t let any situation change them. They keep doing the same thing over and over again. The less experienced let a big decision affect them. A nervous golfer will change their approach at the worst possible time.
Keep playing the same way. Trust that you’ve got to play the same way that put you in the pressure situation. Changing over the last few holes because you feel a little uncomfortable or nervous is going to destroy your round.
This is a Pesky thing. Keep him at bay and you’ll reap the rewards of all your hard work and earlier stellar play.
The adult mind likes to take control and feel a part of your success. It’ll start writing the victory speech and prepare you for how you’ll feel at the finish line. Unfortunately this needs to be ignored – despite this feeling comfortable and the right thing to do.
Stuffing up when you least want it comes from not understanding your system. In most cases you’ll destruct when you stop hitting the shots you know you can hit successfully. You overload your system with too much and forget about the best part of the game.
As always let me know your thoughts and feel free to share this post with anyone who you think would like it.
For a comprehensive approach to mastering your game and avoiding the nasty habit of choking, check out the premium content in The Golf Tribe