By Dr. Rick Sessinghaus, PGA
I’m sure your summer was as busy as mine and you got to play a lot of golf. After playing all summer it is a great time to evaluate where your game is at and design ways to make improvements. With my students, I want them to constantly evaluate their performance. The areas that I want you to evaluate are: 1. Technical skills, 2. Practice habits and 3. Mental skills.
Let’s start with technical skills and looking at your performances. Here I want you to celebrate the improvements you made and identify the areas where you need to improve. If you kept stats, look at your fairways hit, greens in regulation, putts per round, and up/down percentage. What areas got better? It is important to identify what improved and identify how the improvement was made. This helps you continue good habits in that area. Next you want to look at the part of the game that may be stopping you from achieving your goals. Be honest with yourself as you look at the parts of your game that need to be improved. Don’t just say, “I need to improve my swing”. Instead be specific, “I will improve my short iron accuracy from 150 yards and in”. This now leads to our next area of evaluation, your practice habits.
In the summer I find most junior golfers play more than practice. As we get into the fall months with shorter days it becomes vital to use your time wisely in your practice. Look at how you are practicing. Are you practicing your weaknesses? Are you taking lessons to improve those skills? Do you know drills and exercises to help you make the necessary changes? Make practice fun by balancing out drills with competitive practice. Challenge your friend on the range to see who can hit it closest to a target or play a putting game against your parent. Get excited about practice, knowing that the quality time you put in now will benefit you in your next round. Finally, stay focused on making just a couple of changes at a time. With a practice plan you will improve your performance.
My favorite area to talk about is the mental skills of golf. Since I coach competitive golfers on the skills of focus, confidence, emotional control and tournament preparation to name just a few, I’m amazed at how many golfers ignore the importance of these skills. This last summer how would you rate your mental skills? Did your attitude stay positive after a poor tournament? How was your confidence on the first tee in an important event? Did you ever get distracted during a round focusing too much on other players or your score? You can improve all these areas. Start thinking about how you want to act on the course. The very best remain confident, calm, and enjoy being out on the course. What was your best round of golf this summer? Remember that round and the great shots you hit. Write down the five best shots you hit this summer with full detail. Go back to this list of great shots in your pre-shot routine to boost your confidence and keep you focused on the present shot. You can always work on your mental skills. Keep a great attitude on the course and take pride in how you act with both your great shots and poor shots.
This fall is a great time to evaluate your game and identify new goals that you want to accomplish. It starts with learning from what you did this summer and developing a plan to improve these skills. Be honest with yourself and put the hard work in to be the player you want to become.
Dr. Rick Sessinghaus, PGA, “Golf’s Mental Coach” is the author of Golf: The Ultimate Mind Game. He is the Director of Instruction at Chevy Chase CC in Glendale. To find out more, visit http://www.ricksessinghaus.com/.