Lesson Corner – Pressure on the Links

by Shadow Hills PGA Professional- Pat Fitzsimons

Pressure on The Links Let’s say that you have been playing particularly well over the past thirty days leading up to the club championship. Your regular foursome has even speculated that you should be a favorite to claim the title this year.

Fast forward to the first tee of the club championship. You are excited, you had a good warm-up session, and you can see your name on the perpetual trophy in the clubs’ trophy room. You are, however, paired with a person who irritates you, who has won the tournament before and even gives you a needle now and again. He is up first and hits a great shot down the middle of the fairway on number one. Your name is called and now you feel that you have to perform.

You realize that it is suddenly hard to slow yourself down and hard to visualize the success you had so recently been feeling. Your swing gets as fast as your breathing is short, and the shot heads right into the fairway bunker behind some trees. Your eye cannot help but detect the look of your playing partner, his obvious interest. Alas your rhythm is off, you can’t seem to get any momentum, and your high hopes might have to wait until next year.

This scene is played out at nearly every one of the 20,000 plus golf courses across the country each year. People have desires and positive feelings that succumb to pressure. It is remedied some by experience, but everyone who puts their skills to the test in competition, knows the strange realignment of your body and mind when pressure is applied. It causes discomfort, doubt and in some cases severe distress.

Imagine that you are walking down a two foot wide path. There is traffic coming at you close on your left side, and there is a forty foot drop off just right of your trail. You are wearing flip flops and not feeling particularly stable. This is how it might feel to be in a big tournament vs. playing in a recreational atmosphere. On a two foot path across a pasture, you trust you can stay on the path, while on the dangerous one of the same dimension, there is fear and doubt.

Hard work, love of your equipment, the belief of your swing thoughts and a steady use of positive focus, are great weapons against the enemy, pressure.

The most obvious cliche and the most elusive of visions is to control that which you can control and be completely satisfied with yourself if you stay focused. To walk off the course at the end of the day and say to yourself that you acted and performed to the best of your ability that day is mature, satisfying and a success. Winning is usually both a surprise and an expected outcome if you prepare and stay steadfast.

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