101 Golf Secrets

Golf Secrets 85 - 87: Mental

Golf Digest

ALL BY DR. BOB ROTELLA
Sport Psychologist and Golf Digest Advisor, with Alan P. Pittman

85 -- HOW TO SINK AN IMPORTANT PUTT
Remind yourself that it's not that big a deal. Not playing well isn't going to take food off your table. The more you build it up and blow it out of proportion, the less prepared you'll be to play well. Take the attitude, "Yes, I would like to win this thing, but I have to downplay its importance and focus on my routine and on making one shot at a time." I know, it's a cliché, but there's a good reason for it. In a big match you have to show unbelievable patience and self-acceptance. Otherwise, a bad shot early in your round could cause you to become unglued.

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86 -- HOW TO RELAX
When Scott Verplank made his first appearance in the Ryder Cup in 2002, he told me that for weeks everybody told him how nervous he was going to be. "People said I was going to be shaking, that my mind would be racing," he said. "I heard it for so long that by the time I actually hit my first tee shot in the Ryder Cup, it didn't seem like that big of a deal. I was calm. I was amazed."

Players tend to make certain shots or rounds more important than others. I tell them to give every shot the same low level of importance. Maintain perspective.

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87 -- HOW TO HIT IT OVER THE WATER
You need to play your game, and not the better player's game. Usually the better player is going to hit it longer than you. Accept your distance and the clubs you hit for your distances. Don't be embarrassed to pull out your 9-wood. If Vijay Singh can carry a 9-wood, then it's OK for you and me.

Plenty of short hitters outlast longer hitters who are prone to wildness. Just play your game and be patient, even if the better player is making birdies.
How does an unassuming short hitter such as Fred Funk stand a chance against power guys like Tiger, Phil and Vijay? He's extremely accurate off the tee. He plays within himself and has a solid short game—the great equalizer.

Also, remember to be an enjoyable person on the golf course, regardless of how well you play. Good players will like playing with you if you're in a good mood, even if you're not having a good day on the course.

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