How many of you have said this after a round of golf? “If it wasn’t for that one bad hole, I would have posted a good score today”.
It is a FACT that every single golfer in the history of the world has at some point in their life had a “blow-up hole.” You can be cruising along the golf course and BAM! A triple bogey, the snow man, or even worse the dreaded “just pick it up,” which usually comes when the guys you are playing with feel sorry for you and just write down 10 to stop your misery.
It is one of those helpless feelings when you know that no matter what you try to do there is absolutely no way you are going to hit a good golf shot. You lose complete confidence in your swing. It feels like the things you are focusing on not doing are the things that continue to happen. Is it me, or do they always seem to always end on a missed three footer just to add insult to an already embarrassment of a hole?
So when you find yourself in one of these predicaments, what can you do to put a stop to the bleeding?
First things first: SLOW DOWN! It is very important to slow down, because it will allow yourself to refocus on the task at hand. Golf is a mental game. If you are not mentally strong, the blow-up hole is probably something that happens to you quite frequently. A really good way to allow yourself to slow down is to take slow, long steps when walking to your next shot. Stand up straight and take slow, deep breaths.
Regain your composure! You do not want to follow a mistake with another mental blunder. A lot of golfers will play their next shot with only the current hole in their thought process. You have to think of the entire round, when trying to decide whether you want to follow up your bad drive with a “hero shot.”
Let’s pretend you hit your dive into the woods and there is a gap that you can try to get it through and still give yourself a small chance at birdie. The alternative is that you punch the ball back into the fairway to about 150 yards away and give yourself a chance at par. If you are having a decent round, then why not choose the punch out and hope that you hit a good shot and come away with a par? Too many of us go for the “hero shot” and end up hitting a tree and having to make the decision all over again. Except at that point if you punch out you will then have a chance at bogey, so the decision usually calls for another hero shot, only leading to another hit tree and more times than not a BLOW UP HOLE. Don’t get me wrong, I am as guilty of this as any golfer on the face of the planet. I love hitting hero shots, especially if I find myself playing from the trees on a consistent basis throughout the round. The thing you need to do when you find yourself having a similar situation, is to look at the complete scenario. Is playing for a par from 150 yards better than posting an 8 or a 9 on a fairly easy par 4? I believe that it is. Not too many golfers say “Man, I would have had a decent score if it wasn’t for that one bogey I had.” Bad rounds are typically blamed on the blow up hole. If you find yourself having too many BIG numbers on the score card, start playing a little safer. Take the low percentage hero shot out of the equation. We all hit bad shots. When you hit a bad shot, try to follow it up with a good/smart decision.
Do not carry the previous hole with you to the next tee box. This might be the hardest thing to do in golf. Bouncing back from a blow up hole is extremely hard because you can see your good score slipping from your grasp. Do yourself a favor. Expect that you will have these types of holes on occasion. They happen to everyone. If you expect them, when they do happen they will not make you as upset and it will be easier to bounce back from them. Try to make a joke about it. Kevin Na, a PGA professional, put up a 16 this year on the 9th hole of the Valero Houston Open. On the 10th hole while he was walking down the fairway, Kevin and his caddy were making jokes about whether they even wrote down the right score. To me that is the best way to loosen up and forget about it. After a bad hole occurs, there is nothing you can do about it. You should still continue to try to put up a good number and stay focused throughout your round. Trust me, although there is always going to be the feeling of what could have been, there can also be the feeling of “Even though I had that bad hole, I still put up a great score.”
The last thing I want to mention about blow up holes are that they usually happen in the later stages the round. The main reason for this is fatigue. For me, I know that I need to regain my focus on the 13th or 14th tee box. This is when I start to become lazy with my golf swing and more mistakes start to happen. If you are having a hard time finishing good rounds then try to remind yourself to refocus on the back 9.
Slow down. Breathe. Have a short-term memory. Avoid the hero shots. Know you will have these types of holes, and when you have them, laugh them off. Stay away from becoming ‘hole conscious.” Think about the bigger picture. Regain your focus on the back 9 to avoid bad shots resulting from fatigue. Most importantly, HAVE FUN!!!