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Wouldn’t it be great if we lost the ability to count playing golf?

I have heard of golfers starting with a ridiculously high number in their head and adding every shot to that. The idea is they forget the number they started with and just keep adding. 12,889,976 on the first tee and 12,890,051 walking off the 18th green.

“Well done, you shot a 75.”

“Hooray, I had no idea!”

Golf, as you know, is played over 18 holes. We count the front nine and then the back nine and we settle for those two nines as our combined score. But it’s hard to concentrate fully for two hours over nine holes and then turn and try again for a further two hours to get back to the house.

Instead, make every fourth tee shot feel different. Play three holes and, on the fourth tee, untie your shoes, re-tie them and start a fresh three-hole card. By playing six lots of three holes, we have smaller chunks to focus on for a shorter period of time.

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If you have a good front nine, then a lot of work has gone into that and God knows you don’t want to ruin that good work with a poor back nine. If you have a good first three holes, then on the fourth tee you have refreshed and can forget about that good spell and start another block of three holes. You don’t allow yourself the time or opportunity to get too excited by your hot start.

If you go bogey, bogey, bogey on holes four, five and six, that’s okay. On tee seven, untuck your shirt, tuck it back in and start afresh. You’ve only gone off the boil for a 30-minute segment of the entire round.

These chunks of play prevent you getting carried away with high and low spells during your round. You have a three-hole game plan. Stick to that and enjoy your six rounds of golf.


Make a change

Between holes, I untuck my shirt, tie my laces, eat something, take my sweater on and off, use a new glove, change the colour of my tees, sanitise my hands, stretch…

Try this approach

Play as far round the course as you can until you’ve used all your shots (course par plus your handicap). If I asked you right now, how many shots it would take you to play the first 13 holes and your tee shot on the 14 could you answer? Go out and play and find out.

This exercise lets you count the game in a different way. How many shot does it take you from your approach to the fourth green to the tee shot on the 11th hole? Go and try!

Steve Johnston is a long-time member of the bunkered Performance Panel and is Scotland’s leading golf YouTube star.

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