Staying in the Present

Staying in the Present

All the golfing psychology books in the world will tell you to play one shot at a time and to forget about the future of the past.

Trust me this is easier said than done and staying in the present is one of the hardest things to do in golf BUT it is something that all golfers must attempt to master.

Just why is it so difficult?

The answer is that during a long game of golf you have a lot of time on your hands to think and if you consider that your mind can change and switch from present to past and then future in an instant then what is it going to do in 5 hours?

I bet you that you have regular playing partners who claim to be able to stay in the present at all times and then they say something like “ As I stood on the 5th tee was thinking that this is a birdie hole”.

You can see from this statement that the player is already thinking 3 or 4 shots in front and is therefore already in the future.

I remind you again that to remain truly in the present a golfer should only be thinking about the next shot to be faced and where and how they are going to hit the ball to the target selected.

The player should then hit the shot, find it, ACCEPT the result and then start thinking only about the next shot and then repeat this process of thinking until the ball is in the hole or until he runs out of holes.

When you are on the golf course you should never evaluate how you are playing because this automatically means that you are thinking about the past and you must not judge or critique for the same reason.

You must at no time keep a mental running score and start thinking about breaking 70,80,90 etc because this means that you are thinking about both the past and future in an instant.

If you start to think about the past and the future there is a danger that you become protective, negetive and tight with resulting bad golf.

Avoid at all costs getting over excited or disappointed at your golf as a result of the these past or future thoughts and concentrate on your pre-shot routine and playing each shot to the best of your ability.

Just why is it so important to stay in the present?

The answer is that golf requires a narrow focus on where you want the ball to go and ANYTHING that detracts from this focus damages your ability to perform.

As an example in the 1961 US Masters Arnold Palmer walked up the 18th fairway leading the event and a close friend prematurely congratulated him on his win but he hit the ball into a greenside bunker, ultimately took a 6 and lost to Gary Player.

The moment his friend congratulated him on his ‘win’ he lost focus on the task at hand and looked forward to the result with disastrous results.

The best way to get around the golf course successfully is to simply play each shot at hand until you run out of holes and then add it up.