Explosive players like yourself
are usually streaky, so it's hard to maintain a consistent level of play
over an entire round. Typically, you knock the pins down for five or six
holes, followed by a bad stretch where you're all over the course. You
can't force yourself to play steady for 18 holes, but by managing your
mental game, you can be streaky and smart at the same time. That will help
you handle the bad stretches while getting the most out of the hot
streaks. Consider the following strategy.
Getting Started: Loosen Up and Relax
What happens in the first six holes often is created by your preround warm-up on the range. Don't try to hit every shot perfectly; instead, focus on loosening up your body and finding a smooth tempo. You should feel as if you're swinging easily, yet still achieving good distance. On the first tee, you want to know that your body doesn't have to work too hard to make a good swing. A putting warm-up is also crucial so you don't waste holes trying to find your stroke. That said, don't try too hard on the putting green. Good mechanics are nice, but gauging the proper speed and making a good roll are what get the ball into the hole. Don't worry about holing practice putts. Warm up by rolling short putts to a tee stuck in the green and long putts across the green from one fringe to the other. Cultivate a feel for speed and a smooth roll and you'll be ready on the first green.
Middle Six: Roll With It
The first six holes rarely define a streaky player's round. It's the middle six-holes seven through 12-that either put you in position for a good score or ruin your day. So don't make too much of how you started, whether you're one under par or five over. There's still plenty of time to turn it around. Wipe the slate clean on the seventh tee. Take the time to refocus and tell yourself, "the round starts here.' It will boost your confidence if you started slow and help you maintain a high level of concentration if you're on a hot streak.
Up until this point in the round, good ball-striking has been a priority; it breeds confidence. But, by the time you step onto the 13th tee, you either have it or you don't. Score is the only thing that matters from here on in, so stop fighting your swing faults. Over the last six holes, stop wasting energy (and strokes) trying to get your swing back; make the most of the swing you have. You'll score better if you forget about the swing and focus on getting the ball into the hole. If, on the other hand, you're playing well, don't alter your strategy; keep choosing the shots that have been working for you.
Private Lessons 1999 Times Mirror Magazines, Inc., used under license by GolfServ Online, Inc. Instructional information provided by Golf Magazine.