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  • Carol Alford

Course Strategies playing under pressure


Another great question from you guys out there to delve into this week. How do I cope playing the next 9 holes? This can be if you've had a good front 9 and want to keep the score going or if your front 9 was bad and you want to motivate yourself for the back 9. 


Typically as golfers we put a lot of pressure on ourselves when playing in competition . Many players focus on their score, to the detriment of their game. I've written in previous blogs focusing on your score will not give you the results you desire. In fact it has the opposite effect by adding to the pressure and stress. The answer to the conundrum is to shift your focus to where it needs to be, and that'son the shot you are about to play.

Yes I'm talking about a pre-shot routine. Looking back through my blogs I've talked about using a pre-shot routine but couldn't actually find one where I described the process in detail, so this week I thought I'd share it with you and answer the question raised.


Having a pre-shot routine helps you to cope with stressful situations when competing. It gives you confidence, sets your focus and quietens your mind allowing you to feel and make the swing required. Lets talk about each of these in more detail;


1. It gives you confidence

Rushing your shot leads to inaccuracy and nervousness. Your urgency to get the shot done overtakes precedence of the actual shot to be made, which in turn forces you to make several errors. Having a pre-shot routine gives you time to correct and slow things down before you even approach the ball, giving you space to set a positive mental and physical tone for your shot. with consistency comes confidence.

2. It Allows You to Set Your Sat Nav

All pre-shot routines include some manner of taking aim, something as simple as taking a moment to stand behind the ball and visually identify and “lock-in” on your target can work wonders for your game. Setting your focus on the spot where you want the ball to land is like setting the Sat Nav on your car to reach its destination.

3. It allows you to quiet your mind

Nerves, as I'm sure we've all experienced, can make it difficult to create a smooth and consistent swing.  Following a preset routine allows your muscle memory to takeover and executive the shot, preventing your mind from creating havoc.  You are what you think! Visualising your shot will set your body into motion and forms part of the pre-shot routine. I'm sure you can think of times, where nervously you stood on the tee and tried to “steer” the ball to miss a hazard caused. Over thinking the shot always gets you into trouble. Having a routine that allows you to pick a target, that then prepares your body to take over and execute the shot, can help prevent the mental errors occurring. How Do I create a Pre-Shot Routine?

Every players’ pre-shot routine is unique to them. The most important thing is to pick a routine that feels comfortable and gives you the most confidence when addressing the ball.  If you’re not sure where to start, here are a few helpful tips and methods you can include in your routine to dramatically improve the outcome of your shot:

1. Stand behind the ball, stare down your target and count to 3

To eliminate any doubt before a shot, as you walk up to the ball do all your analysis. This will include distance to play, club selection and where to hit the shot to. Take a practice swing as if playing that shot. Doing this helps you to stay calm, it reduces/eliminates any nerves or jitters you have and keeps you relaxed during your swing. It works by forcing you to slow down and take at least one full breath.  Proper breathing and breathing exercises in particular, are well known to settle nerves and improve performance.  It also helps to bring much needed oxygen to your muscles.

2. Encourage yourself

Tell yourself something positive that will be consistent and keep your focused.  For example, once you address the ball with your best golf stance, have a phrase or word to say to yourself , mine is taken from my all time favourite film Top Gun, "Locked On". I've know some golfers say “smooth, easy, and follow through.”  It's extremely important to watch what you say!  Far too many golfers talk to themselves negatively, saying things like “don’t hit it in the water,” “don’t screw this up,” “I hate this hole”.   Negative talk can hurt your confidence and cause a poor swing.  Positive encouragement on the other hand, can help boost your confidence and increase your ability to execute the shot.

3. Visualise the outcome you want

Before addressing the ball, pick a target and set your Sat Nav. It may sound silly but think about something like billiards, when you call out…”6 ball corner pocket,” you can mimic this idea in your head to keep yourself locked in on your shot.  A great time to visualise your shot is when you’re standing behind the ball (tip #1 above).  Simply take a moment to draw out the ball flight in your mind and watch the simulated shot all the way to where you would like the ball to land (just like we see on the TV with tracer lines). Many people get intimidated by the idea of visualising but with some practice it's quite easy to do. Now is the perfect time to practice your visualisation technique since we can't play due to Covid19 lockdown. Using your imagination to envision the shot really gives you the results - its worked for Jack Nicholas, Tiger, Sam Snead to mention a few so why hot you? Following a pre-shot routine for every shot will give you a safe haven to go to, no matter how the game is playing out. It will keep you grounded and prevent the emotions taking over. If you would like to learn in more detail how to make this work for you please get in touch. We can help you refine this process that works for you and get you ready for when our golf courses reopen.

 Drop me an email and let me know what you think, I would love to hear from you. Visit our website and check out our other blogs, there's something in there for everyone.

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1 Turnbury Close, Burton Upon Trent,

Staffordshire, DE14 3GZ, UK

Tel: (+44) 7890 528119 

Email: carol.alford@alfordprojects.co.uk

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