|Do you ever look down the tee box at the driving range and have to take a double take, because there are ten other people that look like your clone? This should tell you one thing, you're not alone. But is this really a good thing? Is it OK to struggle and spend endless hours on the driving range just trying to find the secret or building up enough courage to actually go to the course? People say practice makes perfect, or is it perfect practice makes perfect?
Either way, the only way to play a perfect round of golf is to hole out every shot for which you are physically in range to accomplish. For example: I can hit the ball 300 yards. So, every shot that I have less than 300 yards I would have to hole in order to have a perfect round. Hence, conquering the game that states as its goal, "the object of the game is to complete the round with the least number of strokes possible." The object of practice is not to become perfect but to raise your level of awareness about your physical abilities and your mental attitude. With this outlook we learn to improve, instead of just floating between quick fixes.
Dear Dr. Golf,
No matter what I do, every time I practice I hit the ball great, but when I go to the course I play lousy. Do you have any hints that will help me feel more comfortable when playing?
Distressed at Dove Valley
I would like you to think of the round of golf as more of an obstacle course than a golf course. The object is to complete the course with the least amount of difficulty.
In every obstacle course that I have ever seen there are numerous different challenges for you to accomplish; however, each accomplishment has little bearing until combined at the completion of the course. Each obstacle requires a skill, such as balance, speed or flexibility, but above all you need a confident frame of mind.
Try approaching the course as one 6000 yard hole, and try and approach each shot with tactical thought, confident execution followed by amnesia. Even record your round on a blank sheet of paper using only check marks to indicate shots, and then just count them up for your final round score. This is where the practice pays off. Just like chin-ups give you the skills to conquer the high wall, the well-refined iron shots help you to conquer the water hazards. Keep working on your plan of passage from the number one tee to the number eighteen hole. And when you're out there, make sure your mind isn't playing the eighth when your body is still on number five.
Good luck in golf and life, and remember...
If you let the big dog eat, you WILL hear that tuning fork ring.