If you walk onto a particular tee and you have a bad memory of that hole, you’re basically trying to get it over and done with as quickly as possible.
What tends to happen is that you rush your tee shot, steer the ball onto the fairway, try and get it done quickly. You might select a club you shouldn’t select because you’re scared of hitting it left, or hitting it out of bounds, or whatever.
But I’m a firm believer that not all tips should be about technique. Sometimes you need to learn how to beat the game with your brain.
Slow it down
When I get into that position, where I’m playing a hole I have bad memories of or one I simply don’t like, I do the same thing every time: I slow the whole process down. I should probably point out that I don’t mean playing at a snail’s pace. Not at all.
Instead, just be a little bit more methodical and go through the process, thinking positive thoughts. Everything from taking the tee out of your pocket, to pegging up the ball… think positively. Sportsmen and women calm themselves down via their breathing, so take some deep breaths as you go through your routine.
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Pick a small target
Pick a target that is slightly smaller than normal. If you pick a small target and miss it, you might still be in a good position. If you miss a big target, you’ll feel downcast and all the feelings you had about playing your blow-up hole will come flooding back in an instant.
So, pick and smaller target, stick to your routine and take your time. Get onto the tee box and focus on your target and stick to your routine.
There are maybe a couple of small tweaks to your set-up that you could make to make yourself feel a bit more confident. I always feel that when I grip down a bit more I have more control of the club. I also tend to shorten my swing because of that. After that, I don’t do much else.
If you try and guide it, your upper body will naturally slow down and your hands will take over. That’s going to lead to problems. Just stick to what you know. Commit to your target and be aggressive. Have belief in your own ability to play the hole well. Be positive and get some fighting spirit as soon as you step on the tee.
Andy Carlton is the Head PGA Professional at Paisley Golf Club. For lessons, call Andy on 0141 884 4114. Follow him on Twitter @PaisleyPro.