By Nick Duffy, BGGA Senior Coach
When you read the title of this article you may be thinking, “What is the swing tip for me to play my best?,” but this is not that article. Let’s look at ways to get the most out of your game and become a great competitor.
If you were to walk the grounds at the Masters this week, you will see some beautiful swings, but may forget some others. There will be players shooting low scores with less than perfect swings and ball striking. What is it these players do that allow them to play at such a high level with less than perfect technique? There are many traits these players have that allow them to achieve high performance, but a few I like to see are grit, self-awareness and adaptability.
Grit is courage, resolve or strength of character. In a round of golf, grit comes in handy when you play 72 hole tournaments that can take five hours a round to play. The patience to keep on fighting when things aren’t going your way is what distinguishes players at the highest level. Grit can be described in golf as trying just as hard on a 6 foot putt for 79 as one for 69.
The second trait is self-awareness. This is one of my favorite traits to see in junior golfers and one of the rarest. In golf, self-awareness is the ability to recognize patterns in your game. These patterns can be ball flight, certain clubs you struggle to hit or you hit well, or a certain shot you can’t pull off or ones that are easy that day.
What I see in junior golf are players trying to hit shots they struggle with and not adjusting. I also see players not having their “A” game play more aggressive when they should be playing conservatively and then get themselves in trouble. Then when players have their “A” game they try and protect their score and this leads to poor swings at safe targets. With this type of game plan, players will always shoot higher than their potential, and this leads to them thinking they need more technical work, but the reality is poor strategy is the culprit.
The third trait is adaptability. If you can’t adjust to an ever-changing environment this game becomes difficult. For example, it’s windy outside and my ball is over shaping in the wind so I will hit punch shots. The adaptability can also be due to shot patterns like “I normally hit a draw but it’s cutting every swing, so I will play the cut.”
At the end of the day, the fastest and easiest road to high performance is learning and growing. The traits listed all deal with understanding patterns you have as a golfer. If bad shots are just dismissed as poor technique you will never learn how to play through off days. Every golfer will have an off day or off tournaments but understanding how to get through them is how you become elite.