The PGA Tour is playing The Player’s Championship this week. By the time you read this, the tournament will have concluded, but my message will be the same. When I think of TPC Sawgrass, I think of water. Most notably, the last 3 holes. Hole #16 is a par 5 with water to the right, Hole #17 is the famous island par 3 with water everywhere, and Hole #18 has water down the entire left side. There is no escaping the fact that you must deal with these ‘hazards’ as you conclude your round. But how?
I’ll never forget the first time I would be traveling to Florida to compete in an AJGA event when I was in high school. Being accustomed to dry, desert golf courses in Southern New Mexico, I knew that I would be facing a different challenge in Florida. Water! A friend of mine was a sports psychologist, and he could sense my confidence wavering a bit at the thought of all that water. Fortunately, he had an idea to change my approach to playing on a golf course surrounded by water.
Rather than focusing on where I wanted my ball to land in the fairway or on the green, I instead worked on flying my ball towards a spot higher up in the air. Sometimes this spot would be a tree top in the distance, and other times this spot would be a cloud in the sky. Whatever it was, the point was to focus my attention higher up so that I would not focus on the water surrounding the fairways and greens. I arrived in Florida with a greater sense of confidence, and I was much less concerned with the trouble on the ground.
This is a practice that I know can work for many of you. When you are practicing at the range, try to focus your attention on items that are higher up in the air from your intended target. Once you get comfortable with this, you will have an easier time putting it into action on the golf course. As you all know, golf is a mental game. Course architects enjoy the challenge of creating a fair test of golf, with just the right amounts of fear. Once you focus on a target higher in the air, you can eliminate part of that fear, and you will be a stronger player.