“The toughest mental pitfall to avoid during a difficult day on the golf course is trying harder. It’s the same concept as brushing your teeth harder to get rid of an existing cavity. It doesn’t work.” – Yours Truly
Of all the things that challenge me in golf, tapping into my true inner trust is by far the most difficult. As my good friend Tim, who happens to be the head teaching professional at the course where I’ve played a majority of my golf over the years often says to me, “Playing for the miss isn’t the ideal way to play this game, Lefty. You gotta let it happen.”
Of everything that has been said about the golf swing over the years, nothing has ever been more true.
“Letting it happen” comes from a number of things. It’s a product of playing experiences that come from playing the game for a number of years. It’s having a good understanding of what exactly it is that allows your own golf swing to work naturally, and knowing precisely what your limitations are – your strengths and weaknesses. It’s being competent in assessing the situation and the conditions, and trusting your instincts as a player. And the last-but-most important thing – knowing that you’ve got both the swing and the right club to execute the shot needed.
But these player traits don’t come naturally. You’re not born with them. They’re not bundled with a package deal when you buy a new set of irons or a new driver.
These playing traits are learned through a number of years of playing rounds, devoted practice sessions and above and beyond all else – patience. You earn them through experience. There are no shortcuts, no buy-one get-one free deals, and contrary to popular belief – you can’t get them by subscribing to the Golf Channel’s instructional segments, or Golf Magazine’s tip of the month, or the well-intended suggestions from playing partners who’ve perfected the worthless art of passing along something they’ve read or heard that they themselves don’t truly understand.
“Letting it happen” occurs when you’re standing on the tee of a well-protected par3 on a windy day and you know you’ve selected the right club from the bag. It occurs when you’re so focused on your target that you don’t think about 50 different swing thoughts, or the water fronting the right side of the green. It occurs when you’re standing over a 4 footer to decide a match, but you’re not thinking about the embarrassment that might come should you miss it. It occurs when you play without fear or shame when playing with better players, and admiring your game equally as much as you admire theirs’.
That is the essence of true confidence, the ability to trust your technique, your decision making, your equipment, and your abilities as a player. That confidence is earned, it can’t be bought. You can’t earn confidence sitting at home when you could be out at the range hitting balls and working on your technique, or a quick evening practice round, or getting lessons if needed.
There are two types of golfers: those who have confidence, and those who wish they had confidence.
Which one are you?