Scenario: Has this ever happened to you; you’re playing reasonably well and surprisingly quick golf. Not only are you impressed at your speed of play but at the accuracy with which every putt is moving towards the hole. You have now played so quickly that the foursome ahead of you is waving you up. I don’t know how that moment plays out for all of you but for me it is as if I no longer know how to play the game of golf. Hooks and slices have out of nowhere reestablished themselves as dominating forces over my game.
Question: Why did that happen? I was doing so well.
A book I have come to love and highly recommend to everyone (Zen Golf by Dr. Joseph Parent) does a magnificent job of explaining why this phenomenon occurs. In a nut shell when we try to play through we speed up our tempo. Especially if we’re playing well the pressure to maintain our level of performance on the through shot seems to weigh extra heavy. Unlike the holes previously conquered, you now have a gallery that in your subconscious mind continually chants “your feet aren’t lined up, your club is too closed, don’t cast your hands, don’t push, don’t hook, don’t slice, don’t choke…” and so on.
Whilst playing a round of golf at a local course the other day this added pressure was something I had quite the experience with. Let it be known that this pressure to change one’s tempo can also happen if the people behind you are playing quickly. This was the scenario that I had the chance to enjoy just the other day.
The way I see it is this, you paid the same amount to play and therefore those around you can wait. That is however assuming you’re playing within a reasonable amount of time. If you take 5 minutes just to top the ball 50 to 100 yards over and over my suggestion to you is go back to the range and get your swing sorted out. However if you’re playing within a reasonable time and people want to be rude and hit into you, don’t be afraid to let them play through. Other players hitting into you doesn’t necessarily mean you’re slow, it could mean they are playing quickly. Let them go through. What will it hurt you? If your mind is in the right spot then someone playing through won’t throw you off your tempo.
On the other side, if those in front of you are not playing the same speed you are and you feel the need to play through don’t forget to breath. Before you hit that tee shot be sure that your body is feeling the same tempo you were just playing at. There’s no need to speed up. Just follow the same routine you have been and take deep breaths, this will slow down the blood pumping.
Side note: if you feel like you’re nerves are going to get you because of some pressure to play well as you’re playing through don’t be afraid to hit a club that you’re very comfortable with just to reassure your body and mind that you know what you’re doing.
And that’s the way I see it.