Where and how you choose to place your focus on the golf course can have a measurable effect on the way you play and, ultimately, the score you shoot.
Broadly speaking, there are 3 aspects of your focus on the golf course…
- Your focus in general, over the course of 18 holes.
- Your focus leading up to each shot and as you run through your pre-shot routine.
- Your specific focus over the ball as you make each swing (i.e. your swing thoughts).
In this article we’ll look at the first two of those elements of golf focus.
Focus During A Round Of Golf
Be honest. Do you regularly play a round of golf as though it was two games of 9 holes?
In other words, have you ever had a poor start to your round, lost motivation by the 5th or 6th hole only to “start again” at the 10th? Or perhaps it’s the other way round…
You have a great front 9, add up your score on the 10th tee, realise how well you’ve played only to fall apart hole-by-hole on the back 9.
Splitting the round mentally in half is a natural tendency with most of us that play golf. But I think it’s costing you a lot of shots…
We’ve all heard of “staying in the moment” and “focusing on the now”. In golf, that means completely forgetting about previous holes and shots (good or bad) and eliminating any thoughts of holes and potential scores to come.
You literally focus on one hole, one shot even, at a time.
Sounds great in theory, but it can very difficult in practice…
Watch the video below for a different approach to dividing your round of golf up – one that will help you maintain your focus and motivation much more easily. I think you’ll find it has a noticeable, positive impact on your scores:
- Experiment with dividing your round up into 3-hole chunks.
- You play the first 3 holes of the course and class that as a game. On the first tee, you set a target score for those 3 holes (your target can be a total such as 20 shots, or something relative to par, like 2 over).
- When you reach the 4th tee, it’s a new 3-hole game and a new challenge. Whatever happened during the first mini round (holes 1-3) is gone. This is a new game!
- Repeat the process on the 7th, 10th, 13th and 16th tees. In effect, you’ll play 6 mini games during a round.
- It’s even worth while dividing your scorecard into 6 sections as a visual reinforcement. Why not pencil in each 3-hole target score before you start?
Focus Leading Up To Each Shot
Most amateur golfers have heard of, and probably employ, some kind of pre-shot routine. But for many, it starts and finshes with a couple of practice swings.
I’d like your pre-shot routine to begin a bit earlier – by you focusing on some very specific elements in your immediate surroundings…
As you walk up towards your ball, you can mentally ask yourself a series of questions that will not only help the course management aspect of your game but also start to prepare you mentally for a good, solid golf shot:
- How is my ball lying – is it on a slope or sitting down in a heavy lie and will I need to adjust my set up or club selection?
- Are there any overhanging trees or obstructions that will affect the shot shape or impede my swing?
- What’s my best target – is it the pin, the centre of the green or the left side of the fairway? Remember not to fall for those sucker pin positions!
- What distance do I have to my best target and what club do I need? Is there any wind that will affect my club selection or set up?
- What does the shape of the shot look like (this is a good time to quickly visualise the shot in your mind’s eye).
With a bit or rehearsal, these questions and thought processes will become second nature and will take only a few seconds. You can then go into a your routine of lining yourself up, making a good practice swing or two and hitting a great shot. See this video for my own pre-swing routine.
When you’re walking between shots, chat to your playing partners or think about something other than golf to give yourself a mental break. You can ‘switch on’ as you approach your ball.