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GOLF DOCTOR

Game plan for making every round count the most

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I’m reluctant to disclose this but in a few months I’ll be turning 80; scary thought, in some ways. Over the past couple of years, I have been regularly shooting below my age, with two low rounds under par. I certainly don’t feel close to 80, especially when I’m at the gym pumping iron. But in thinking about golf that will be played for the upcoming next few years, I have decided to use the approach whereby I make every round count. I’m determined to make each round count for the best I can play. There might be less golf but it will count for more. Let me share with you my game plan; maybe you can use this for your game.

Since I’m retired, I can get to the course sooner, so I have the opportunity to warm up properly on the range and go to the practice green to get a feel for the speed of the greens. Even though I’ve been known to joke that “warming up is overrated,” I don’t believe it. You’re always better off stepping onto the first tee loose, relaxed, confident and ready to play your best. Being more organized, with smarter time management, is sure to make me better prepared to make each round count for the most it can be.

Several years ago, a dear older golfing partner of mine (now gone) used to pack as many rounds of golf into each week (occasionally 27 holes a day), explaining that “I never know how many more rounds of golf I have left.” I don’t either, but I’m not worried about that. Then, my friend shared that, the older he aged, he looked at each round of golf like the last one he would ever play.

That attitude must have served him well because he was very fine golfer up to the end. If I went out tomorrow for my usual game, and thought it might be the last round I would ever play, I would be so nervous, and probably so sad, I could barely take the club back. No, I’m a fairly cerebral player, so I have thought clearly about how to play my best golf in the next few years.

I know I will need to focus on each shot more than ever. That doesn’t mean thinking longer or harder over a shot; rather, it’s about being disciplined with my pre-shot routine, while engaging all my mental energy with the singular task of making the very best golf swing that I can at that brief opportunity. I call those “focusing moments,” where your intensity peaks, then you relax a bit in order to re-focus a few minutes later for the next shot. It’s making each shot count, so the round counts for more.

Coupled with more disciplined focus I am committed to staying less concerned about the outcome of any particular shot. All of us tend to have anxious golf moments from time to time over how a certain shot will turn out, even though we may not consciously recognize that happening. By keeping those mini-nervous episodes to an absolute minimum, we will make solid, confident swings and putts a much greater percentage of the time. Taking it a step further I have decided to worry less about the results at the end of the day. Having fallen into an unfortunate lapse of thinking “score,” it has become painfully evident to me that spending that type of emotional currency on the golf course was making things worse, especially after a slow start.

Dr. Charlie Blanchard is a licensed psychologist specializing in sports and leadership. Contact him at docblanchard71@gmail.com