Eliminating The Destructive
‘Golf is about how well you accept, respond to, and score with your misses much more so than it is a game of your perfect shots’ – Dr Bob Rotella
The key to consistent golf is not necessarily to create the perfect golf swing and strike each ball directly out of the centre very time. Of course it feels great when this does happen, however, even the most experienced and talented professionals do not attain this day in day out, shot after shot. A four round tournament is not necessarily won through perfectly struck shots but through minimising any destruction. What the best golfers in the world do, the ones who are consistently in the top 10 rankings, is build on their strengths and acknowledge and minimise any destructive element. If you combine this with a sound mind-set, you are definitely on to a winning combination.
How to eliminate the destructive
The first step is to acknowledge your strengths and also what area of your game or specific shot, if there is one, that gets you into any difficulty; this will vary from person to person. This is not to berate yourself or place all of your focus on the negative. However, simply be aware of a key area that with some amendments may make the biggest difference in a positive way to your game. It also does not mean having to make everything perfect or endure a major re-haul. Whether it is a pull hook off the tee when the stakes are high, those short 3ft putts, a 40 yard pitch, or a slice, which on a windy day takes you into the depths of no return, acknowledge it and begin to make the positive changes to minimise its destruction, note minimise, not perfect!
Secondly, at times, a great deal of energy can be frustratingly spent focussing in the wrong areas. The main priority is to reduce any destructive element, which in turn will begin to make the biggest and quickest impact on your score. An unplayable ball out of bounds, turned into a shot finishing in the right hand side of the light rough, will put you in a far better position of recovery, reducing the chance of any disaster score on that hole. In this example, (in the case of a right handed golfer) it isn’t necessary to try to perfect the ball flight into a subtle draw or even a perfectly straight shot, but simply reduce the amount of left to right movement on the ball, which will consistently bring it back into play, rather than having to reload after a lost ball each time. It may even be a pitch shot that consistently gives you a chance of putting rather than having to chip back from the other side of the green each time. Each golfer’s situation will potentially differ quite dramatically, however the solution to greater consistency will remain the same.
It doesn’t require a painstaking remodelling of several different parts of your golf swing or game, but simply understanding and pinpointing the key underlying element that causes your troublesome shot, improving it and reducing its detrimental impact. If you can find the primary root cause that will reduce any destructive shot in your bag, you are well on your way to finding that consistency. Don’t be concerned with perfecting every aspect, simply identify the key area for you and in doing so, a positive effect on the remainder of the swing and sequence will follow. Professional guidance will be instrumental in assisting with this process.
Let’s use an example. A commonly heard tip within the golf swing is to keep your left arm straight. You have noticed that your left arm folds very slightly in your backswing and consider that this may be the cause of your pull hook off the tee. You read a great article about the importance of a straight left arm, you then spend a great deal of time trying to straighten the arm, increasing the tension, but to no avail, you feel frustrated and confused. Yes, ideally the left arm wants to be comfortably straight, however there may be something much more significant that is causing your troublesome shot and there may even be something a little earlier on that encourages that slight fold as a compensatory move. The more you focus on trying to keep the left arm poker straight, the more tension is created and ultimately it is not necessarily the root cause of the problem. A lot of time and energy may have been frustratingly wasted.
Relax – everything doesn’t need to be perfect
Ultimately, relax in the knowledge that everything doesn’t have to be perfect to make notable differences in your game, in either the shots you play or your golf swing. For the quickest results, simply pin point and acknowledge, in a constructive yet positive light, any shot, which on a reasonably consistent basis, gets you into difficulty on the golf course. Locate the primary source causing the issue, and work towards an improvement that allows you to bring the ball back into play. If this means a shot going left and out of bounds becoming a shot finishing left edge of the fairway/semi rough, a bunker shot that gives you a chance to putt rather than yet another bunker shot or a 4 putt that becomes 2, whichever it may be, the end result will be a much more consistent scorecard with less frustration on the way.
As mentioned, many of the world’s top golfers lead by example in terms of minimising any destructive element in their game. They need to minimise their errors where a four-round tournament is concerned. One or two blow-up holes during a round can take them from the top 10 on day one to missing the cut on day three.
One player that springs to mind is multiple major tournament winner, Lee Trevino. Trevino during his prime had a unique style of his own. Not necessarily text book or traditionally orthodox, however his success came from knowing his own game, maximising his strengths and minimising any destruction that would take him out of contention during a four-round tournament. He did not worry about trying to turn his natural left to right ball flight into a perfectly straight shot; he played to his strengths, eliminated any destructive element and had a hugely successful career in the process. He also had a great reputation for enjoying himself on the golf course, all in all, not a bad formula to emulate!
Yes there are ideals to aim for from a technical and ball flight perspective and yes, everybody wants to hit the centre of the clubface and fairway as often as possible or wants the ball to finish a few inches from the pin. This is not to say these are not attainable by any means. However, if, as an example, replacing the out of bounds with the light rough means potentially saving 2 or 3 shots an a hole, this is your initial focal point and most direct route to consistent success.
The key aim is ultimately damage limitation. When improvements have been made that enable the ball to remain consistently in play or where destructive elements have been minimised and this is reflective in the score, this must be positively acknowledged and embraced. Building on strengths and minimising destructive elements, will enable you to consistently improve how you get the ball around the golf course.