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Nothing will bother or upset you on the golf course, and you will be in a great state of mind for every shot. Padraig Harrington tells me that he's performed better since he made acceptance part of his preshot routine.

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As he prepares to hit a shot, Padraig reminds himself that whatever happens to it, he will accept it and go from there. This allows him to focus narrowly on his target and swing freely. Acceptance, of course, is to be practiced on the course, during a round of golf. After it's over, it's fine to make a quick assessment of where you made your mistakes.

It's fine to lay out a plan to improve your weaknesses. I'm not advocating accepting mediocrity and poor results. Acceptance doesn't preclude thorough preparation and practice to improve our skills. Playing with a feeling that the outcome doesn't matter is always preferable to caring too much. The biggest mistake most people make is to let how they play dictate their attitude. If the ball is going where they want it to go, they have a good attitude.

If it isn't, their attitude is bad. They start thinking badly. When you're playing well, it's fine to go with the flow. But when you're playing badly, you need the discipline to control your thoughts and think only about the way you want to play. Mastering this concept goes a long way in determining two critical outcomes. One is how good a player is going to get at golf. The second is how much fun the player will have along the way. Of all the concepts I teach, staying in the present is perhaps the simplest.

A Golf Swing You Can Trust Paperback

Yet it's one of the most difficult to practice. I have clients who tell me staying in the present is no problem for them. But then they say something like, "I came to the 16th, and I'm thinking, this is a birdie hole I have to stop them and point out the implication of what they've just said.

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If you step onto the tee thinking, "This is a birdie hole," you're already thinking two or three shots ahead of the present. Players who are truly in the present step onto the tee and think only of how they want to hit the tee shot. They don't think about what they ought to or will make on the hole. They think about the tee shot. They hit it. They accept it. They find it. They think about the next shot. They repeat the process until the ball is in the hole or until they have run out of holes. If your mind is truly in the present, you don't evaluate how you're playing, because that would mean you're thinking about the past.

You don't judge or critique for the same reason. Nor do you keep a running tally of your score, thinking as you do that if you can par in you'll break 70, or 80, or whatever. That would mean thinking about both the past the score is, after all, the sum of the strokes you've made in the past and the future the total you'll have at the end of the round. If your mind is truly in the present, you don't play "tight and scared. Excitement would suggest that you're thinking about the outcome of the round.

Discouragement would suggest that you're both mired in the past mistakes you've made and worried about the final result. You don't pay attention to how others in the field are playing, and if you happen to see a leader board, it means almost nothing to you. Thinking about how others are playing is another form of thinking about the future, because the only reason you could care about how they're playing is a premature interest in how the tournament will end--the result. Golfers who stay in the present just keep playing the shot at hand until they run out of holes. Then they add it up. Believe fully in yourself so you can play freely.

If you need a definition of confidence, try this: Confident golfers think about what they want to happen on the course. Golfers who lack confidence think about the things they don't want to happen. That's all confidence is. It's not arrogance. It's not experience. It's simply thinking about the things you want to happen on the golf course. Given two players of equal skills, the more confident one will win nearly all the time.

I don't know exactly why that's the case. I only know that our bodies react to the degree of confidence we've nurtured in our conscious and subconscious minds. Play a shot confidently, and the body performs at its graceful best.


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Play a shot while doubting your ability to pull it off and the body more often than not loses its rhythm, grace and timing. Confident golfers play like athletes. They walk onto the course as if they were going to a party that is full of people who like and admire them. Golfers who lack confidence step onto the course the way an anxious, uptight nerd would walk into that same party. See where you want the ball to go before every shot.


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When players are properly into the target, it's as if there were a laser beam linking the mind and the spot where they want the ball to go. Nothing else exists for them. They're single-minded. Hazards such as woods and water don't distract them. Once they have picked the target, they think only of the ball going there.

One of the many great shots Davis hit that day was a 6-iron out of the trees to the 16th green, where he made a putt for eagle. If you've played the TPC at Sawgrass or seen it on television, you know that the 16th green is perched on the edge of a lake. It's protected on the dry side by mounds, rough, bunkers and a tree. On the day of the final round, the hole was cut very close to the lake, and Davis' shot ended up very close to the hole.

I asked him whether he had aimed for the middle of the green and pushed the shot. I hit that exactly where I was looking," Davis said. That kind of focus on a target greatly improves the prospect that the ball will go to it. The more you're consumed with your target, the more your instincts and subconscious will help you find it.

It's as if you have an automatic guidance system, like a heat-seeking missile. Not all missiles hit their targets, and you won't always hit yours. But if you're into the target, the ball will go there more often.

A Golf Swing You Can Trust by John Hoskison | | Booktopia

You're less likely to mis-hit a shot, and your misses will be more playable. I don't know why the human organism works this way. I only know that it does. Be decisive, committed and clear. When we hit a golf ball in competition, we want as much as possible to govern our bodies with our subconscious mind. That's because, in sport, the human body works most effectively when the conscious mind is shut off.

Trust Your Swing

Call it instinct, or intuition or the right side of the brain if you're more comfortable with those concepts than you are with the notion of the subconscious. Whatever you call it, you want it in control when you play golf. You want to swing thinking only of your target. To go unconscious, to play instinctively and intuitively, you must trust your swing, you must believe that it will work.

That's easy to preach. It's harder to practice. I work with other players who can trust as long as they're hitting the ball well. As soon as they mis-hit a ball, their trust evaporates. They try to fix their swing, and they start thinking mechanically. There's a certain logic to this. If your swing produces a bad shot, it's obviously flawed. Why should you trust a flawed swing?