Sharpen up your game. The quest for consistency: Elimination of variables.

The latest instructional blogs from Steve Mitchell PGA – Head Professional at Etchinghill Golf Club (part of the Pentland Group). Kent County 1st Team Mens Coach, County Boys Coach, Kent ladies and Kent girls Coach. Coach to three touring Professionals and Ping Custom fit expert.

What does everybody I teach ask for when they come along for a lesson? A turn like Tiger’s? A touch like Michelson’s? Luke Donald style wedges? Well yes. But realistically, what everyone is ultimately looking for is consistency. They want to stand at the ball and know that it’ll pretty much do what’s required without any nasty surprises.

Just imagine how your game, and scores, might be transformed if you were able to cut down on those damaging shots? I’m not saying that you’ll never hit a poor shot again, they’re still going to happen for all sorts of reasons. But you can instill a framework within your game that will help ensure that they are kept to an absolute minimum. Here’s how;

Pre game routine – have a set warm up and preparation routine. This is very individual, the object being that you arrive on the first tee completely ready. For some people this might take an hour, for others ten minutes. But be consistent. Feeling prepared, physically and in terms of kit, makes you ready to play your best. No mental excuses “if I’d warmed up properly…”

Pre shot routine – we’re going to have a whole blog item devoted to this, but in short just do it the same every time you hit a shot. Build it into your practice so that you hit each range ball with a pre shot routine. This has two effects – it takes away pressure (your body thinks that you’re just doing what you always do, nothing different to usual so no need to be nervous), and whilst your ‘doing’ your routine, almost on automatic pilot, you’re cutting down on unnecessary thinking; you’ll just have a steady consistent mindset as you prepare to hit.

Reactions – don’t allow yourself to react after a poor shot. Celebrate the good ones by all means, but once a shot’s gone, your mind is either having a holiday or it’s working on the next one. Beating yourself up has absolutely no merit to it and can only be damaging. You’ll have chances after the game to reflect and change; allow yourself to defer that til later, just thinking to yourself “ok, that’s for some attention later, let’s get on with the job in hand…”

Stay steady, physically – walk at a steady pace (with your GoKart of course!) make sure you stay hydrated and if it suits you, have the odd snack or fruit on the course. More and more research is coming out to show that your brain really doesn’t like it when you get thirsty or your blood sugar drops too much!

Keep to your game plan – whether you’re going to be aggressive on par 5’s, play strategically to wedge yardages that you know you can hit close, or play for position on the tough fours…once you’ve made a decision, stick to it. It will rule out doubt and keep your attitude on the course consistent and on track.

Pay attention to these things when you play and you will, I guarantee, be a steadier player on the course. Then you can work on Tiger’s turn…

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