It’s golfing season again. Everyone is dusting their sticks off, polishing their balls and spit shining their tees. The season is full of hope and promise – this will be the golfing year to end all golfing years.
If we play great golf, our handicap will come plummeting down. A lower handicap means less chance of winning competitions. We don’t want to put ourselves in that awful predicament now, do we?
Luckily for you, I have come up with my top 5 tips for playing awful golf year round. Listen up closely, as these tips will help you duff the ball around consistently over par every time (you do want to be consistent now, don’t you?).
You can really make that off-season fitness regime count. You will now have the strength to break all 14 clubs when you need to
Tip 1 – Practice out of context
What better way to waste your time and give your friends the illusion that you are improving your game than to practice in a way which is completely opposite to the game of golf itself.
Scrape and hit
Instead of hitting different shots to different targets and using a routine each time (like golf), why not try standing in the same spot and hitting your favorite club over and over to the same flag? This is a sure-fire way to make your buddies think you are doing great, but we both know that this type of learning is as useful as asking a child what 4X5 is 40 times in a row, before making them sit an algebra test.
Our playing partners will see us flush it on the range, and so will be less inclined to play us for money, allowing us the freedom to duff it around the course and not worry about the bar bill afterward.
Tip summary – make your practice nothing like the game of golf itself
Tip 2 – Think too much
We all know our best rounds are played when our mind is free, relaxed and we focus on one simple thing. So don’t do that, try this instead.
So don’t do that – try this instead.
Try to think about a minimum of 5 different swing thoughts as you are making that one-second swing. To make sure you can add more thoughts, chunk them into different areas, such as
- Set up thoughts
- Backswing thoughts
- Downswing thoughts
- Thoughts which don’t relate to golf at all, like the people watching or what you are going to have for dinner tonight.
Science shows us that by ‘chunking’ into different categories, we are able to think of more information. This should really clutter your mind to no end and ensure that your handicap is safe from any cuts.
Chunking – a different kind.
If you really want to make sure you screw up, why not try changing those thoughts every shot. Rather than stick to one consistent thought throughout the entire round (like better players do), why not switch between multiple different and opposing swing thoughts. This will really confuse your ability to make good contact with the ball.
If you are struggling to find enough things to think about, try reading a golf magazine – they are full of confusing and conflicting bits of advice.
Tip summary – think of lots of different things at once, and change those thoughts periodically to maximize failure rate. Remember, we learn from our failures
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Tip 3 – Have Unrealistic Expectations
What better way to put pressure on yourself than to skyrocket your expectations. You are a perfectionist by nature, so let’s ramp that up to levels of ridiculousness.
Forget the fact the average pro hits only 60% fairways. Forget the fact that they only hole 39% of 10 foot putts. You deserve more.
Try to hit 100% fairways and 110% greens in regulation. And if you don’t make every 20 foot putt you set your eyes on, make sure you react to it with a hefty dose of anger and frustration. This emotion can really help to continue that bad streak for longer, and will also send the message to your playing partners that you normally do hole every 20 foot putt.
See that little gap in the trees – go for it. Chipping out is for wussies, and trees are 90% air anyway.
Also, when attacking the flag, forget that there is water there. Positive psychology tells us to think only of the good outcomes, so fire away at that pin. You may make the water and cost yourself 2 shots each time, but that helps keep our handicap safe from the dreaded handicap secretary. Also, the occasional birdie once in a blue moon can be talked about for weeks – so it’s really a win-win.
And why not pick unrealistic clubs while you are at it. Remember that downhill, downwind 7 iron that you flushed out of the screws and it went 180 yards (after hitting the sprinkler head, a path and then hitching a free ride on a badger)? Yeah, pick the same club again every time you are 180 out. If you’ve done it before, you can do it again, right?
Tip summary – use positive psychology to screw up your round. Expect nothing less than perfection, don’t allow yourself to EVER hit a bad shot, and build your strategy based on your best ever golf shots.
Tip 4 – Think about Irrelevant Things
We all know that the ball only responds to a correct club and ball impact. So, why not focus on less relevant things instead.
Forget the fact you’re hitting everything 3 inches from the heel of the club – instead, try and perfect the look of your backswing. Make sure it stays perfectly on plane, you turn your shoulders exactly 90 degrees, get your club exactly parallel to the ground at the top, and keep that right arm tucked in during the downswing. That way, you will look like a pro as you are shanking the ball.
That’s what matters, right?
Tip summary – ignore all the motor learning research – prioritize style over function, and keep all thoughts internal (left arm, shoulders etc). That should really screw up your ability to co-ordinate anything functional.
Tip 5 – Change your Routine
We all know that a consistent routine helps us to relax, zone out and play consistent golf. So, do the opposite.
Playing through another group?
- Why not rush the routine
- Take less practice swings
- Don’t get comfortable over the ball
- And try to be more aware of what the group thinks about you.
This will ensure that you duff it enough times that you are forced to pick up your ball to speed up play. No Stableford points for that hole means you protect your handicap yet again.
Or, is this an important shot? Why not make it look like it is important then? Take longer over the ball, make an extra practice swing and concentrate really hard. This should really pull you out of that flow state and send the message to your subconscious mind that something is wrong.
The extra time over the ball will also allow you to think more, allowing you to bypass those pesky subconscious control mechanisms that the pros use, and send you straight to using the pre-frontal cortex of the brain. This almost guarantees inconsistent play, allowing you to get into contention and then screw it up (but look like you at least tried).
The onlookers will never know your secret key to messing up a great round and saving your handicap from plummeting.
Tip summary – your routine mirrors your play, so make your routine inconsistent at important times in order to play more inconsistently.
So now you know the secrets to poor play, you are free from the perils that low handicappers suffer. Never will you have to experience the pressure of being the best player at the club, or the embarrassment of picking up a trophy and giving a winner’s speech.
Besides, you are doing most of the above advice anyway, aren’t you? So why not just continue like that?
Golf is tough, so these tips should make it even tougher. After all, we golfers are known for self-flagellation – remember, Golf backwards spells Flog.
I cringed putting this in
Or, you could
You could do the opposite to the above and actually make improvements to your game. You could do just a few of the things I mention in “The Practice Manual – The Ultimate Guide for Golfers” which would allow you to play the best golf of your life. Namely;
• Practice more effectively
• Think less, picking one simple thought and sticking with it
• Have realistic expectations, allowing you to manage emotions and fear and strategy better
• Think about more relevant things than how your swing looks, such as how your club is contacting the ball
• Keep your routine consistent whether pressured or not, so that your play remains more consistent, you enter the flow state more often and you feel more relaxed.
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Also, make sure to check out my video series, The Strike Plan. It is the most comprehensive guide to improving the most important part of your golf game – strike! Through unique concepts, technical drills and skill exercises, you can quickly improve your contact, resulting in increased distance, directional consistency and distance-control. Click the image below for more details.