We all hate a bad shot, especially if it ends up with a ball out of bounds, or loses you a hole. But, the best thing you can learn from a bad shot is how to overcome it.
Your reaction to bad shots can be a major obstacle in the way to a better game. The best way to improve this is to stop acknowledging your shots as “bad.” Meaning, you need to accept the not-so-good shots as part of the process. Learn the lesson the quickly put them to the back of your mind so you can move on to the next good shot.
Bad shots can indirectly make you a better player. Instead of thinking “that was awful” think “how could I do that better?” The key is to do this after your round or while practicing. When you are on the course, take a positive approach to every shot. Try these strategies on the course if you’re getting frustrated with a bad shot or hole:
Try to laugh off your bad shots. Remember, don’t take the game too seriously — even in competition. Zach Johnson has said, “Realizing bad shots happen is the best way to deal with them. Take the drama out of the shank or top. Use humor or laughter to make it go away, and then move on.”
Talk to others
Having a conversation with your playing partners or some banter with your golf buddies is sure to take your mind off of those bad shots. Get outside of your own head and connect with others on the course.
Focus on the positive
Think of what you did well, be it club selection, pre-shot routine or even your strategy or shot decision. Balance the negatives with the positives.
Accept the bad shots
Even the pros have some awful shots now and again. In your pre-shot routine think, “I’m going to try to play the best shot I can, and I will be positive about the result.”
Take ten paces
Tiger Woods has his “ten pace” rule. After he has hit a shot, and it didn’t turn out as well as he intended, he gives himself ten paces to reflect. After those ten paces, that’s it, move on. This is a good rule for anyone out there who is still moaning about their awful tee shot on the first half through the round.
Get some perspective
Take a look at the sky. The open space will help you forget about your shot and realize it’s an insignificant thing.
Create a cue to let it go
Make a cue or ritual like Tiger to forget your shot. Maybe this means putting your club back, having a drink of water or anything else you can think of. When you do this, you’ll remember to quit thinking of your bad shot and move on to the next.
Take a step back to reflect
The next time you hit a bad shot, take a step back and see what happened. Ask yourself some of these questions:
- Were my feet misaligned?
- Was the ball too far forward or back in my stance?
- Did I turn my hands over quicker than I should have?
Once you get these answers, you can get a better understanding of what went wrong and how you can overcome it. The next time you’re in that situation, you will know what to do.
Remember: There is no bad shot in golf. You learn as much from playing badly as you do from playing well. If golf was easy, it wouldn’t be fun. If everyone hit a perfect shot every time, then it would be a boring game and everyone would play! This positive attitude will do wonders for your golf game. Play well!
— Joseph Mills