101 Golf Secrets

Golf Secrets 88 - 90: Mental

Golf Digest

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

88 -- HOW TO PLAY IN FRONT OF A GALLERY

I've seen Jack Nicklaus pop it up in front of 5,000 people on the first tee at Augusta and Tom Kite duck-hook a drive 15 yards off the tee into the gallery. Every pro on tour has probably struck someone. If it's OK for them to hit a bad shot, it's OK for you. When pros step on the first tee, they build a bubble around themselves, the ball and the target. Another option: At the first tee, say, "Today I have a crowd watching me. I've always wanted a lot of people to see how good I am."

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

89 -- HOW TO GET IN THE ZONE

Great players are great because of how well they play when they're not in the zone. How many times has Tiger Woods shot under par when he couldn't hit a fairway? A player gets into "the zone" about 1 percent of the time. Chasing it every day is like chasing the perfect swing every day. It's one of those things that happens once in a while, when we least expect it. Enjoy it when you're in it.

Still want to try to get in the zone? Then focus on your routine. That is, pick a target and commit to the shot.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

90 -- HOW TO HANDLE YOUR TEMPER

Golf is a game of finesse, rhythm and flow. Mentally, it's a game of cool and calm. People who have a temper on the course make golf way too important. There's a difference between getting mad and getting determined and extremely focused.

Craig Stadler once told me, "The thing you have to understand, Doc, is that when I get angry on the course, I get it out of me long before my next shot."

You don't see a lot of great players getting mad on the days they performed well. Staying calm is crucial, but if you're going to get mad, you'd better have a thorough understanding of yourself, the way a good coach would. Sometimes a team needs a kick in the butt when it's disinterested or lackadaisical. But sometimes when a team is uptight, a little comic relief will help the players relax. So like a good coach, you need to know how to motivate yourself the right way.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

 Images from top: Stephen Szurlej; AP Photo; Jonathan Carlson