Ian Hardie Golfer Pacific NZ Column January 2020

Ian Hardie Golfer Pacific NZ Columns
Ian Hardie Golfer Pacific NZ Columns


What were your 3 best shots?


Having been around the game of golf for most of my life, I’ve observed a few things about the habits that golfers have, that don’t seem to be very useful.

In fact, most golfers have a lot of habits that they probably don’t realise, hold them back from reaching their true potential at the game.

One of the most common ones I observe is how most golfers come off the course after four hours of playing a great game, in a great outdoor environment with some interesting people.

In a mood that can vary all the way from bewildered, to what can only be described as angry and then sit there going through all of the bad golf shots they hit during the round.

Think about the last game you played – if it wasn’t you that was going through all of the bad golf shots you hit during your round at the end of it, I’d suggest that one, two or all three of your playing partners were doing it while filling their scorecards out.

One things for sure, it’s not very often I come across an entire group of happy golfers after a golf game!

I’ve given this observation a lot of thought over the years and have come to the conclusion that it happens because as humans we all tend to dwell more on the bad things that happen (or might happen) to us in life, than the good things – right?

For most golfers, immediately after a game their thoughts are always along the lines of ‘If only I hadn’t missed that last putt or hit it out of bounds on the 16th or duffed that chip on the 12th.’

It’s only with a bit of prompting afterwards, that they might say ‘Actually, I played a pretty good chip shot on the 13th to set up a par, I got up and down on the 4th from the sand and there was that great fairway wood shot that I hit on the 6th.’

Now, take a minute here to read both of those sentences again and pay attention to how you feel after reading each one.

The reality is that most golfers spend the bulk of their post-game time dwelling on the negative aspects of their performance and depending on how bad the performance was some golfers even able to hold those negative thoughts into the evening, the next day, over the next couple of days.

Sometimes, they can even hold on to them for well over a week or until the next time they play a couple of weeks later.

How do I know that?

This habit is one of the many useful things I cover during my Practical Golf Psychology Workshopsyou find out more about them here.

As this article doesn’t allow enough space to go through the whole thing, I thought I’d give you a brief idea of how this can work and a quick 3 step process that you can start using, if this is something that is holding your golf game back.

Let’s imagine that you have spent the past few years playing the game as I described above and focussing most of your post round talk and thoughts on your bad shots.

I’m sure that you are aware that the human brain records absolutely everything you think (and do), so when the bulk of your recorded thoughts about golf are negative and the library of shots your brain can recall from the last few years, are mostly bad ones.

The bulk of the things your brain will use as a reference when it searches to find the ideal golf shot for you to play on the course during your next round will be negative ones.

So, how do you change that?

It’s going to take a while for you to work on putting sufficient good thoughts into your brain and build a library of good shots, to be able to overtake what for many is a habit of negative thinking that they have had throughout their entire golfing career.

The good news though, is that it can be started with this 3 step process.

Step 1 – Immediately after your round and signing scorecards etc. take a few seconds to think about your round and pick out the best 3 shots you hit that day.

If you aren’t comfortable doing it then, use the time while travelling home from the course to think about it or even later when doing your statistics – you get the idea.

It makes no difference what the shots were, just the 3 best.

For example, it could be that you hit a great drive on the 6th, made an excellent bunker shot on the 11th and holed a 10 foot putt for par on the 18th.

As I said, it’s not important what the shots were, just that you thought they were your 3 best shots.

Step 2 – As you are just about to head off to sleep that night after golf, replay those 3 best shots in your head with as much vividness as possible.

Try and remember as much detail as you can and include things like wind direction, what you thought about prior to choosing the shot you hit, how you lined up – as many details as you can.

Think about how well you played those shots and feel good about them.

Step 3 – On the morning of the next time you play, before heading to the course, recall the 3 best shots that you hit during your last game in as much detail (as described above) as you can.

Repeat this process after each round you play and it won’t take you too long to notice that you are beginning to build yourself up a library of good shots and positive thoughts in your mind.

Who knows, what sort of golf that might allow you to play!

Play well.

Find out more about improving your golf game by attending my Practical Golf Psychology Workshop here.


Ian Hardie is Golfer Pacific’s Golf Professional contributor. He is Club Professional at Omanu Golf Club in Mount Maunganui. Ian’s time is split between the pro shop at the club and helping people to improve, while enjoying their golf more as a result of his golf coaching. Over the past few years, in an effort to help as many golfers as he can, Ian has been sharing his common sense golf advice with golfers around the world through his website golfhabits.com. With over 500 articles to read, it’s a great resource for any golfer looking to improve their golf game.

Location Omanu Golf Club, 98 Matapihi Road, Mount Maunganui Phone 0272222073 (txt is ok) or at Omanu Golf Club Pro Shop (07) 575 5957 E-mail ian@golfhabits.com Hours Coaching Times: Monday - All Day, Tuesday - All Day, Wednesday - Morning, Thursday - Afternoon, Friday - Sometimes, Saturday - Afternoon, Sunday - Rarely.
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