Playing good golf requires you to be good in three areas, ball control, course management and self control. A valuable tool in the self control category is having a post-shot routine.
Bob Rotella wrote a book called Golf is Not a Game of Perfect. Golf is definitely not a game of perfect, for anyone. Even the best players in the world hit poor shots. How you deal with and react to those shots is critical to your success. Ben Hogan used to say that during a round of golf, he would hit four to five good shots. If you went to any tour event and talked with any player after they were done with their round, they would probably tell you that they hit four to five good shots. Now it is a fact that you and I might take some of their “not so good” shots but it is relative. The same will happen to you in any round. You will hit a handful of good shots and will likely hit four to five bad shots. The remainder will be somewhere between the very good and the poor.
Emotional events and responses are stored in our long term memory. Do you remember where you were on September 11, 2001? Most do. Do you remember where you were on September 11, 2006? Probably not. The events of September 11, 2001 created an emotional response in all of us and that memory is easily recalled. A key to developing confidence and performing better when playing golf is to attach emotional responses to the good shots and know how to handle the inevitable poor shots that will happen in every round. We want to store the good shots in our long term memory rather than the poor shots.
Golfers will tend to respond to good shots neutrally and respond emotionally to poor shots. During a round of golf, after you have hit a golf shot, hold your finish and watch the shot. Soak it in. You have seen Tiger or other tour players give a little fist pump after a good shot. Do a little fist pump yourself or, at the very least, tell yourself “great shot.”
Remember, your reaction to the poor shot is critical. Following a poor shot, I want you to respond to the shot neutrally, respond as if someone else had hit the shot, simply observing the shot and accepting the outcome. Next, take a replacement swing. Make a practice swing and visualize the shot that you intending on hitting then put your club back in your bag and move on. By making that replacement swing, you are replacing a negative image in your mind and replacing it with a positive image.
Routines take practice just like any other part of your game. Work on your post-shot routine to help you to perform better on the course.
Click on the link below to watch a Golf Channel School of Golf Tip with Martin Hall on Post-Shot Routines.