The Lesson Corner – Attitude Builds Confidence and Better Scores!

patfitzAs part of being our new teaching professional here at Shadow Hills, Pat Fitzsimons will be writing regular essays and posts about ways to improve, his teaching methods, and general golf items of interest to make golf more fun.

“Attitude Builds Confidence and Better Scores!”
by Pat Fitzsimons – PGA Professional

An often heard sentiment surrounding golf is “Why can’t I take it from the range to the course?”.  I hope to offer some insight into this situation.

You sometimes find yourself having a wonderful session on the driving range, hitting shots with solid contact and pleasing flight.  You dream of splicing them into the round you are about to play.  Seems you can’t miss.  No matter what club you bring out, the ball goes where you want it to, and the excitement and expectation for a good day on the course is growing.  You head to the putting green and roll a few into the hole from five feet and lag some long ones close.  All bases covered!  Let’s see now….what is my best score ever?

Today is the day.

Standing on the first tee with confidence still present, you hold the image of the range shots, you feel a good rhythm and you smack a good one down the fairway.  The pin is tucked close to the front bunker and you have a 133 yards to the hole.  You hit your normal nine iron 128 yards and your eight iron 138.You’re pumped up and decide to hit the nine hard and squeeze it in just over the bunker.  Again, you’re feeling good.  The nine iron is solid and looks fantastic tracing a strong flight toward the hole.

Sadly, it lands near the top of the bunker and rolls back into the trap.  You forgot to hit a couple sand shots before you came on the course, as you were enjoying your full shots so much (and you hate the sand anyway).  Trying to hit a great shot and save par, you ease into the ball a little and it doesn’t get out of the trap.  You try again, swing a little harder and the ball releases 8 feet past the hole.  You line it up, hit it just where you want it, but in trying so hard on the line, you leave the putt just short.  Sound familiar?  You hit two real good shots, you were brimming with confidence, and now you have a double bogey start to show for it.

The next hole you don’t quite shake your displeasure with the first hole and you over swing off the tee, finding the fairway bunker on the left.  Your stance is awkward and your contact not great, the ball comes up short of the green.  A nice pitch spins a little too much and you are faced with twelve feet uphill for par.  Another good stroke but the putt just slides by on the high side.  Two holes and you’re three over.

We’ve all had starts like this one.  The great expectations of the driving range are soon replaced with anger perhaps, or sadness; of doubt for sure.  You continue on and never can regain the confidence or form you had during warm up.  Your score ends up average and your one day to play golf this week is not as fun or satisfying as hoped for.  Often by cruel coincidence, your playing partner mishits his first few shots, but gets it up and down on one and two, then gradually begins to hit it better and has a really good and satisfying score.

There is nothing wrong with the player who had this start, except that he or she has forgotten that the scorecard has no room for pictures and “scoring shots” are at least as important as the more glamorous drives and irons we usually practice before we play.  The best rule to remember, and to prepare for,  is to expect that you will be in between yardages and that if you have a weakness, it will be confronted by you often.  Confidence and trust in your scoring shots is perhaps more important than booming a few big ones on the range.

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