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Don't Throw Away Shots!

Tom Lehman broke his four-year PGA victory drought by winning this year's Phoenix Open. Tom credited watching Tiger Woods with his improvement. He was inspired by the way Woods remained cool even when struggling.

"He didn't throw away shots," Lehman said. "So during the off season, I thought about it, 'What is it that I do? I throw away shots.' That's kind of the reason I felt so good going into this year. You know, if I couldn't drive it out of the shadow, and if I couldn't chip or putt at all, then I'd be worried. But, I've beating myself for three years."

"It would have been easy for me to have gone out and shot 71 or 72 or something and let my negative feelings about my putting carry over, but they didn't," Lehman said.

So how do you keep from throwing away shots and beating yourself? You do it by playing one shot at a time and staying in the present or process. This can be accomplished by using a Four-Step Routine after each stroke while playing a round of golf.

The Four-Step Routine consists of feedback response, relax, preparation and instinctive execution. I explain and illustrate these steps in chapter nine of my book "The Mental Keys To Improve Your Golf". I will summarize them for you here.

1) Feedback Response. Everytime you hit a golf ball, learn from that experience. All of your successes and failures are learning opportunities if you use the feedback to make the proper adjustments. Make a mental note of what you did right and store it away for the future. Note what you could have done better and tell your mind to make the necessary adjustments.

2) Relax. Whenever you react negatively to a situation or bad shot, tell yourself to relax and become objective so you can learn from the feedback. Remind yourself that shot is history and all you can do is live in the present. As you walk to your next shot, relax. Enjoy your surroundings and your companions. Have fun and count your blessings.

3) Preparation. As you approach your ball, accept any and all challenges with determination and confidence. Focus and prepare for your next shot. Make sure your intensity level is appropriate for the task at hand. If you are over excited or too relaxed, you will be out of your optimal intensity range and your performance will suffer. A consistent preshot routine will help you relax and stay in the present.

4) Instinctive Execution. Practice and develop your mechanical skills until you are a subconscious competent and no longer have to think about your mechanics. Step up to the ball, go through your preshot routine and go for it. If you find yourself thinking too much at the point of execution, step away from the ball and go back through steps two and three. After you regroup, step back up to the ball and execute. See what happens and start again at step one.

This routine gives you a four-step process that allows you to quickly reduce, eliminate or transform your negative emotions. It helps you to regain your composure, become objective and learn from your feedback. It trains you to relax and regroup after each shot. It makes you focus, adjust your intensity and prepare for your next shot so you can execute instinctively. With this routine you play golf one shot at a time. It will definitely help you from throwing away shots. Visit The Mental Keys Site

© Copyright 2002 by Michael Anthony.  All rights reserved.