What does it take to shoot in the 70s? If you can shoot 82, you can just as easily shoot 76. You have the game for it. But do you have the mind? If you're used to shooting 82, 76 is a tall order. To break out of your comfort zone, change your view of the round.
Score in Triads
Trying to shoot a target score or sustaining excellent play over 18 holes can put a lot of pressure on you. Instead, break up your round into six groups of three holes. To break 80, set a goal of averaging 13 strokes for each set of three holes (six groups times 13 strokes equals 78 strokes).
Breaking up the round helps you to stay in the present and not look ahead to difficult holes or ones you might birdie. It also eases the feeling that you must par every hole to break 80. If one group consists of two par fours and a five, try to par them all; if the next triad is three, four, five, you can have a bogey; in a triad of two par threes and a five, you can have two bogeys, and so on; whatever it takes to make 13 strokes. If you score under 13, great; over 13 and you must find a triad (preferably with more than one par three) where you can score under 13. Remember, the goal is to average 13 for each triad. That allows you, on average, a bogey every three holes.
Break Up Your Swing Thoughts
The legendary Bobby Jones used to say he never worried about playing his best over the first few holes because he was getting a feel for the course and didn't want his expectations too high before he knew what he could do that day. For you, that means don't saddle yourself with an intricate swing thought on the first tee and attempt to sustain it throughout the round. Use the first six holes to "find your swing." Don't do anything fancy, just advance the ball. Keep it in the fairway, regardless of how your swing feels, and you'll be surprised how easy it is to make pars.
After the first six holes, your body will be ready to focus on a swing thought. Pick one that feels right and focuses on the downswing. Backswing keys are position-oriented and often put mechanical thoughts into your head. Downswing thoughts are motion-oriented and focus on the target, which is what you want.
Over the last six holes, your objective is sustaining the rhythm developed over the rest of the round. Let your swing key become almost unconscious. Focus on keeping grip pressure light and on a smooth tempo. Staying in control down the home stretch will ensure breaking your comfort zone.
Private Lessons 1999 Time4 Media, Inc., used under license by GolfServ Online, Inc. Instructional information provided by Golf Magazine.