Which do you work on more—swing mechanics or course management? If you’re like many weekend golfers, you probably focus on swing mechanics more than course management. Some say swing mechanics are more critical than course management. Others say that course management is more critical. Truth be told, there are many sides to golf not just these two. You need to master as many as you can. Otherwise, you won’t cut strokes from your golf handicap.
One side weekend players often ignore is golf’s mental side. Many players seldom think about this side of golf. Yet this side can help you save strokes just as much as course management or good chipping. Below are five “secret” mental weapons. Adding them to your arsenal will help you cut strokes from your golf handicap. But you must work on them faithfully to reap their benefits:
Ingrain rhythm in your swing— Rhythm is critical to your swing. But developing good swing rhythm isn’t easy. Too often, we rush our swing because of anxiety. That takes us out of our rhythm. The mental exercise below puts it back:
- Do this exercise first with your practice swings only: As you start back in your swing, say the word “tick” (or a similar word) to yourself. Start saying the word as you being your takeaway. Draw the word out until you reach the top of your swing. Now say “tock” as you start down. Again, stretch the word out until you reach impact. Practice this exercise several times. Then start hitting balls saying “Tick Tock.”
- Control your swing speed — Swinging too fast (or too slow) causes you to mis-hit balls. One reason you swing too fast is anxiety. Golfers get anxious when it comes to actually hitting a ball. That throws their rhythm off and results in a mis-hit. Learning to control your swing speed, however, eliminates mistakes made by swinging too fast.
- To control swing speed, give your downswing a number. Let’s say 8 out of 10. Remember this number as you swing. Focus on trying to match it. Matching the number in your head while swinging stops you from consciously trying to slow down or speed up your swing.
- Narrow your target — To hit accurate shots, you must pick the smallest target possible in the fairway. Tour golfers do this well. So did the great Ben Hogan. Pick the smallest target possible and then make a decisive swing. Everything else will take care of itself.
- Remember solid contact —If you tried to hit a ball fat or thin on purpose, you could probably do it. That’s because you remember what it feels like to do it. Next time you’re hitting balls at the range, try remembering what it feels like to hit the ball solidly. Keep that memory in mind as you hit balls. Try to imitate the feel every time you hit a ball. Eventually, you’ll ingrain the feeling—and the mechanics—of hitting a ball solidly.
- Practice the Quiet Eye —The Quiet Eye technique comes from the research of Dr. Joan Vickers. Use the technique when putting. Train your eye on the hole (or a specific spot on the hole’s lip) for one second before putting. (Looking at the hole for longer than a second interferes with accuracy. So does looking at it a second time.)
Now, look down at the ball and then make your stroke. Also, keep your eye on where the ball was in your follow-through. Trust that your body knows where the hole is. Also, don’t follow the roll of the ball. Listen to the ball go in rather than watch it go in.
Use these five secret weapons—and the golf tips accompanying them—to cut strokes from you scores and your golf handicap. Apply them in practice first. Then try them on the course. They’ll boost your game to a next level.