This is the second part of our “How to Win at Golf” series by Andy Frost. You can find the 1st part here.
In order to improve your game and become a more consistent, ie winning golfer, you must first recognize that most winning golfers rarely win a tournament. In fact, most PGA Tour players have won very few events, despite the obvious fact that they are the most winning golfers in the world.
For the amateur being a winning player is even more subtle, yet we all know the winning players at our clubs and local golf organizations. They seem to always be in contention, always make the clutch shot and consistently take our money. What steps can the competitive player who wants to improve take to catch up and make getting into the winners circle more likely.
Let’s Be Honest
The first step is an honest assessment of your game. In his fantastic book “Fearless Golf” Dr Gio Valiante describes two golfers. One is ego driven. He wants to show everyone how good he is by carrying a low handicap that he cannot play to. We all know these types of players—they post a 71 with their wife on Sunday afternoon and shoot 85 in the club championship. The other type of player is a mastery golfer. He or she is constantly trying to improve, whether or not he is an 18 or a plus handicap. Mastery golfers put themselves in difficult tournaments, play for money and realize that the more they compete and lose the better they become. In order to be a winning golfer you MUST be the second of these two players.
Know YOUR Game
Secondly, you need to evaluate and understand your own game. Winning players play the shots they KNOW they can hit. They know their distances and are not rattled that they need a 7 iron from 145 yards, when the other guy is hitting a pitching wedge—what the other players hit is meaningless. Good competitors take the occasional lesson, but they realize that unless they find the fountain of youth they will have to take the swing god gave them to the first tee. I will take the veteran who plays a lot over the range player every time.
How’s Your Fitness?
Thirdly, winning golfers stay in shape. This does not mean that you need to be able to bench press 350 pounds or run a marathon, but you need to be able to be as strong on the 18th as the 1st hole. It is especially important in multi-day events. There are very few consistently good golfers who are not involved in some type of gym activity. The importance of physical training gets more important with age as well.
How’s your Mental Game?
Finally and most importantly is the mental side of golf. To be a winning player you must understand that you will be nervous, you will make mistakes under pressure and you will fail—these are all a part of building a strong foundation so that when your time comes you can walk through the door. A simple search in any online bookstore will reveal many great books to help you improve your mental game.
A good mental game has many parts and requires determination and confidence. You must be determined—to train, to practice and to give your best over long stretches of time. Confidence is harder to gain—but with the proper attention to the above mentioned points will grow over time.
To summarize, being a winning golfer is not something that can be pressed like a button. It is like a house that is built from the ground up. It requires nurturing, effort, honest assessment and practice. The best thing about golf is that its fun to do these things and the rewards and satisfaction are great. Remember the words of the great Bob Rotella: “Play to play great”.