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Stress, being tight, and avoiding choking

 ScooterMcTavish ·  
ScooterMcTavishScooterMcTavish Staying away from thrift stores....The Great White NorthMembers  2693WRX Points: 141Posts: 2,693 Titanium Tees
Joined:  in Instruction & Academy #1

Hi all,

For the second year, my partner and I are competing for our league championship, and I'd like to not choke like last year.

Unfortunately my concern has been exacerbated by the wild inconsistency in my game the last few weeks. I've swing between (vs handicap over 9 holes) +1, -5, +7, and 0.

It also seems to be strongly tied to mental momentum and confidence. When I'm stroking the ball nice, putting well, and getting up and down in 2, I'm great!

Or I make a bad shot, then the wheels fall off, my stroke goes out of sync, and nothing seems to go right.

This happened in last year's final - my putt for par on the first hole hit an unseen bump, and lipped out. Wheels fell off early, especially when the other guys (who were genuine sandbaggers) were playing well. I started to press, got tight, and lost all flow from my game.

Sad part is that I've added a lot of mental resilience to my game over the last 20 years. However, my ability to shrug off a bad shot and follow it with a good shot seems to dissipate when the "stakes" are ratcheted up.

Welcome the thoughts from those who've found way to get their head to treat a competitive round just like any other.

Posted:
Titleist 909D2, 9.5*, JAVLNFX M7
Titleist 909F2, 15.5*, "For Titleist" Blueboard
Titleist 909H, 21*, "For Titleist" Blueboard
Titleist 755 4-P, GAT 95
MacGregor Jeff Sheets 52* GW
MacGregor Jeff Sheets 56* SW
Titleist Vokey Oil Can 60* LW
Odyssey White Ice Sabertooth
WITB Link
Current set photo here!
1

Comments

  • juststevejuststeve Members  5330WRX Points: 642Posts: 5,330 Titanium Tees
    Joined:  #2

    Before I was a golfer I was a pitcher. Just like in golf where you are bound to hit bad shots, pitchers are bound to throw bad pitches. My very wise coach told me when you throw a bad pitch, forget about it. There is nothing you can do after its been thrown other than to try to make the next pitch good. Same in golf. Hit a bad shot, forget about what you can't fix, find the ball and hit that shot as well as you can.


    Steve

    Posted:
  • GolfWRXGolfWRX Warning Points: 0  11 Members Posts: 11 #ad
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  • SNIPERBBBSNIPERBBB Hit Ball Hard SE OhioMembers  3539WRX Points: 942Handicap: 2.9Posts: 3,539 Titanium Tees
    Joined:  #3

    Play more competitive rounds. I play 99% of my golf as competitive rounds between leagues, scrambles, money games, CC's, and qualifiers. You still might have some putts where your heart rate jumps up but they occur less frequently than the earlier days.


    Other thing as mentioned above is getting your head out of golf asap after a shot.

    Posted:
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  • MarcellusWMarcellusW Members  124WRX Points: 79Posts: 124 Fairways
    Joined:  #4

    Don't treat it like it's any other round, because it's not. But, have a plan.

    It's great when you have your A-game and it all comes together at the right time. That just doesn’t always happen. Sometimes it's more about survival. Like finding your ball in a divot, you have to accept that sometimes you just can’t play it the way you had planned.

    I used to be worse about trying to fix my swing/pace/touch mid round. I've also cut back on the aggressiveness when I’m behind. Trying to pull off a miracle shot to make it back usually has a predictable outcome.

    Posted:
  • McgeenoMcgeeno Members  2248WRX Points: 334Handicap: 1.9Posts: 2,248 Platinum Tees
    Joined:  edited Jul 31, 2020 10:23pm #5

    I was a (And still am) a nervous and jittery tournament golfer...


    But I have techniques that work that have allowed me to post some quality scores and build up a mediocre trophy case haha.


    nervousness: Breathing and visualization is key. 2-3 deep breaths during your preshot routine. 5-10 seconds long. Inhale deepy through the nose and hold and then exhale. Breathing techniques are tried,tested and true. They work. Anyone who has worked with real stress or training teaches this for a reason. Visualize the shot in your head before you hit it and trust that you've done it before. I won't swing until I am fully committed to a shot and a club.


    tightness: During putting or driving I find the best way to reduce tension is to grip the club as hard as you can for five seconds at the beginning of your preshot routine. Honestly try it. Try to crush the grip for 3-5 seconds. Squeeze it as hard as you can without looking silly. You will not be able to continue holding that tightness/tension during a swing once you've felt what it really feels like. Its a good way to reduce hand/arm/wrist tension before a shot or a critical putt.


    choking: A tougher one. I finally realized I have choked a bunch and will continue to do so. It just is what it is. Sometimes you rise up and pull off a Tiger. Sometimes you fall down and skunk a key shot. The guys who havent choked probably have never been good enough to have a legit shot to win. I'd rather choke and shoot 73 to lose a tournament than brag about the 89 I shot with no pressure. Realize in a year nobody will care. Its just a game and I get to try it again tomorrow. Another thing I try to do during any round is realize I can't do anything about a terrible shot. So I give myself 10 seconds after I hit it to get angry and then its onto the next.

    Posted:
  • Nels55Nels55 Members  524WRX Points: 274Handicap: 6.8Posts: 524 Golden Tee
    Joined:  #6

    Practicing with Focus Band helped me to learn what it feels like to turn my brain off and let whatever ability I have come out during a particular shot. Being able to do this helps a little bit when I remember to do so. I would recommend trying one if you can find a teacher who has one.

    Over the years I have choked big time and I have also way out performed my level during tournaments and money rounds. It happens. I still get really nervous and competitive in what amounts to 'big' competitions in my world but I truly don't care all that much if I win or lose. I have lost a lot of times in the past and hopefully I will continue to get opportunities in do so in the future. One thing for sure when the round is over other golfers like to hear the tail of woe more then how you made 3 birdies in a row. LOL I have competed with handicaps from 27 down to 6 yesterday and when ever I have won I have gotten comments about how my handicap is too high. LOL I have also been accused of having a vanity handicap... What are going to do?

    Posted:

    Driver Mizuno ST190 9.5* / Paderson Ballistic KG70-D40. Hybrids: 3 and 4 Rogue / Steelfiber HLS980. Irons 5 through Wedge PXG 0311 / Steelfiber i110. Wedges 50*, 56*, 62* MacDaddy 4 / Steelfiber i110.

  • footmashiefootmashie Members  112WRX Points: 60Posts: 112 Fairways
    Joined:  #7

    If you can stay inside the chrysalis for 18 holes you may emerge a butterfly that stung like a bee.

    Posted:
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  • ScooterMcTavishScooterMcTavish Staying away from thrift stores.... The Great White NorthMembers  2693WRX Points: 141Posts: 2,693 Titanium Tees
    Joined:  #8

    Pleased to report that I did not choke last night. In fact, I almost forgot it was a competitive round, and just concentrated on each shot individually.

    Unfortunately, it appears my partner needed this thread worse than I did, as he shot one of the worst rounds I'd seen him shoot. His driving is normally the best part of his game, and last night he was duck-hooking everything.

    Not that I scored magnificently - shot +1 from handicap. Just one of those rounds where the putts lip and don't fall, an approach sits on a tree root, I end up with 60' lag putts, etc. It was nice to be unphased by this, and the squeezing the putter idea certainly helped.

    Thanks for the ideas, though. I was fortunate not to have any really bad shots that I needed to recover from, and it was just a matter of not getting too tight on tricky putts.

    Posted:
    Titleist 909D2, 9.5*, JAVLNFX M7
    Titleist 909F2, 15.5*, "For Titleist" Blueboard
    Titleist 909H, 21*, "For Titleist" Blueboard
    Titleist 755 4-P, GAT 95
    MacGregor Jeff Sheets 52* GW
    MacGregor Jeff Sheets 56* SW
    Titleist Vokey Oil Can 60* LW
    Odyssey White Ice Sabertooth
    WITB Link
    Current set photo here!

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