You can prepare all you want for a golf session. Pack your cooler, wear your lucky socks, clean your sunglasses, and break that new box of golf balls out of your bag. You get to the course and hit a few range balls before your tee time. Stepping up to the mat, you swing and top your ball. And the next ten balls after that. Suddenly you’re slicing like you never have before. Your back is already twisting in frustration. You suddenly just can’t golf. You think you’re having a bad golf day.
You’re probably worried that you’ve forgotten entirely. But don’t fret – it’s not that your muscles don’t remember, and you don’t need to scare yourself into thinking you have to go back to square one. That tee time? You can still get out there and play a great game.
On those days where your swing isn’t worth beans, you can still redeem yourself and play like a champ again. Here’s what you need to know when you’re having a “bad golf day” so that you can get back in the game.
Recognize the Underlying Issue
Odds are, you didn’t really forget how to golf. Your knowledge and experience are still in there somewhere. It is likely all in your head, and your concentration is so extreme that you’re stressing yourself out of good shots.
There’s no magic phrase to murmur that will remove this spell. You have to be present in your mind and consider that you have worked yourself up. Try putting your clubs down and go into the Pro Shop. Get a bottle of cold water. Stretch a little bit. Talk to some people. Return to your clubs with your muscles relaxed instead of tense.
Check Your Posture
If you’re constantly making the same error during your swings, and it’s one you don’t usually make, take a step back. What can cause this golf error in other people? How are you exhibiting that issue right now?
Let’s say you keep striking the ground. You’ve never had posture problems before, but that doesn’t mean you can’t have them today. Maybe your back is slouched because it is so tense. Try straightening your spine a bit to stretch out – and remember to do some cat-cow stretches later when you get home.
If you’re suddenly hooking or slicing, it might be a problem with your grip. Even if you’ve always had great grip, you might have grabbed your club wrong on your first shot. Then, with every subsequent shot, you become firmer in the belief that you aren’t doing anything wrong with your hands or form and shouldn’t be golfing poorly. The problem can compound. Try adjusting your grip.
Don’t Take a Practice Swing
It seems counterintuitive – wouldn’t less practice make your game worse? Not necessarily! If you are too “in your head,” practice swings might actually make the problem worse. Take the time to line up your shot, and then trust in your skill to get you where you want to go.
If you take a bunch of practice swings, you might increase the stress you already have over playing poorly. If you really are stuck in your head and stressing over your game, don’t take five practice swings. Don’t even take one practice swing. Just go for it.
If you’re really playing poorly, what do you have to lose? Give up the practice swing. Watch your shots improve.
There’s No Such Thing as a “Bad Golf Day”
If you work on getting “out” of your head, instead of on hitting harder and faster, you will get back on track. Don’t ever feel trapped and fall into the belief that you are having a bad golf day. You might be having a bad golf moment, but you can absolutely overcome it.