Improving Your Mental Golf Game, continued...

Read Part I HERE

In 2012, my scores started drastically improving, and for someone that has never taken lessons, it was a great feeling. Now, 3-4 years after that particular incident occurred, I’m still carrying a smile on my face when I go out and play a round of golf. Whether with friends, family or for competition, I’m just glad I get to play the sport I love so much. Believe it or not, I have trouble sleeping the night before I play because that’s how passionate and how blessed I am to be able to play again. 

Side Note: I currently carry a +0.3 handicap with Golf Canada, and I’m a licensed teaching professional. For those interested, I’m also writing a book on golf theory that I plan on releasing in the next few years. The difference between my book and the hundreds of others that are already on the market is the simplicity behind my instruction. The game is very confusing as it is, so my book is planned for simplifying golf instruction in a way that is easy to understand for both professionals and newcomers of the game.

All this to say, I still have moments of frustration just like anyone else, but you won’t see me tossing clubs anymore or swearing at factors that I cannot control. Golf is a game played with multiple variables. You cannot control the speed of the greens, the wind on any given day, the flag placements and/or where your ball comes to rest after the shot is in play, It's important to get over what happened in the past and keep moving forward.

One of the best examples I can give regarding my new-and-improved mental fortitude happened this past summer. A bunch of buddies and I planned to play a round of golf at a course called “Club de Golf Metropolitan Anjou” here in Montreal, Quebec (par 72). As per usual, I got to the course one hour before my tee time to properly warm up. I’ll usually spend around 30-40 minutes on the driving range letting my body and swing heat up before proceeding to the putting green and chipping area. The time had come; we made our way to the first tee-box. It was a 420 yard par-4 into the wind. I grabbed my driver and took some practice swings emulating the exact shot I was planning on hitting. I stood over the ball and suddenly felt uncomfortable. In those situations, I take a step back off the ball and restart my pre-shot routine to get comfortable again. For some reason, this time, I didn’t, and it cost me. I topped my drive into the lake that was 30 yards in front of me.

Now, before I continue, everyone should know that my primary swing path is a draw from right-to-left. When I prepared for my third shot (after losing one in the hazard), I hit a slice so far right that it stuck underneath trees about 175 yards away from the green. I walked over to my ball and discovered that I had to hit a low stinger (a stinger is a term used in golf to depict a low-trajectory shot) to keep the ball from hitting overhanging tree limbs. I attempted to make a swing and hit a rock that must have been directly underneath the ball without realizing it. I damaged my 7-iron and the ball only advanced 15 yards or so (not enough to get me out of tree trouble). Suffice it to say, frustration did get the best of me on this particular hole as I ended up posting a 10 (6-over par for the hole). Then, I followed it up with a double-bogey six on the 2nd hole par-4. This situation was not looking too good as I was already 8-over par for the round after two holes.

If this exact situation had happened to me a few years ago, I would have mentally collapsed. My round would have ended with my worst score of the year. This time, though, things were different. I told myself that I had the game to battle back and post a decent number, all things considered. Why ruin a fun golf outing with friends just because of two unfortunate holes on the front 9. If I were to continue playing poorly and complaining, it was going to be a long day. Instead, I decided to buckle down and play some of my best golf of the season. I ended up finishing the round shooting 79 (7-over par) which means I played the last 16 holes in 1-under. It wasn’t exactly my best golf, but considering how poorly I had started the day, it was a very satisfying ending. I was able to turn it around so quickly, which means that it’s quite possibly my most impressive score to date.

There are worst things in life than spending the day outdoors with your friends and playing golf in the middle of summer. Improving the mental side of my game has been more effective in posting better scores than any swing tip I have received, and I have the summer of 2012 to thank for that. 

Stay tuned, because my next post will be all about course management and some of the major mistakes I’ve noticed from amateurs over time!

Shauheen Nakhjavani is a golf teaching professional in Montreal, Quebec, Canada. He is 25 years young and has plenty of accolades in his short golf career but it’s nothing compared to what he wants to achieve when everything is said and done. He has more interesting stories that he would like to share with you about the mental and physical side of golf.

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