The Mental Benefits of a Great Short Game
It’s no secret that I think that working more on your short game is the key to becoming a better golfer. There are plenty of people who might disagree, and would show me some statistics to prove otherwise.
I disagree with all of them, because statistics can’t take into account the mental side of the game, and how you are feeling on the golf course. Each time you step up to the ball your mental state is a huge factor on how well you are going to execute the shot at hand. You are not a statistic!
The short game never came easy to me, and it still doesn’t. The strength of my game has always been my ball striking with my irons. It might be a combination of the fact that I spent more time in that area as a kid, and it just comes more natural to me. Whatever the case is, I’ve always had to work harder with my wedges to see more results on the course.
I used to fear my short game, and still do sometimes. When I missed a green I would almost condemn myself to bogey before I even stepped up to the shot. It was because I had zero confidence in my ability to get up and down. That lack of confidence came from the fact that I simply did not work much on that part of the game.
Things are much different now
The reason why I disagree with all of the naysayers out there who say hitting the ball farther will have more of an impact on your score is because when you have a great short game, NOTHING can rattle you on the course.
There are days where you can’t hit your tee shots or approach shots straight. These are potential blowup rounds that can wreck your confidence. How do you save these rounds?
Ding ding ding…with your wedges and putter.
Having a great short game is like being surrounded by a force field, or having a magic cloak on the golf course. Bad things might happen to you, but you won’t let them get you down because you know you can save things around the greens. I’ve had rounds where I’ve only hit 5-6 greens and hit less than 6 fairways, but still managed to shoot in the 70s because of my ability to get up and down for par, and limit double bogeys.
When I used to hit a tee shot into the trees, or badly miss a green with my approach shot, I either would lose my temper and/or get dejected.
Now I really don’t sweat it (for the most part, let’s be serious). I view it as an opportunity to showcase shots that I have been working hard on at the practice range and my backyard.
60 yard wedge shot? No problem, I feel comfortable on that one now. Bump and run?? I’m pretty sure I can get that one inside 10 feet. If you can walk up to these shots without fear it unlocks a whole other level of golf.
Having a great long game helps, but…
If you want to keep yourself in a positive mental state your whole round, the short game is the key to that because it’s your backup plan if things don’t work out with your longer shots. If you can stay positive, then scores drop. It’s as simple as that.
There’s nothing worse that bombing a drive down the fairway, and then making bogey from less than 100 yards out. I’d almost rather miss the fairway and green, and then make a spectacular up and down. That’s a real boost to your round!
I got a great piece of advice when I was a teenager from one of the best players I had ever been around. He was a borderline tour player, and a phenomenal teacher. He told me there was always a moment in your round where you could turn things around, and you have to realize when it is, and seize it.
We’re always faced with a few holes during our round where we can feel things slipping away. You might have hitched a ride on to the bogey/double bogey train, and now your day has turned sour.
Your short game can fix that. It can plug the leak on your sinking ship.
Getting up and down, and making that par can be a tremendous boost. All of a sudden things might not seem so bad anymore, and then you start hitting your tee shots and irons better.
Our minds have the ability to make our bodies do some spectacular things. Anything you can do to keep your mind positive on the golf course is worth pursuing. I believe strengthening your short game is probably the most important way to do this.
The added benefit of having a great short game is that it will also relieve pressure on your tee shots, and approach shots. If you’re not as worried about missing fairways and greens, then you will swing more freely, and that’s when you hit your best shots.
What happens when you are closer to the hole is where you punch your ticket. Start your work there, and things won’t seems as daunting when you are much further away.
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