This topic is a distinct topic for sure. I coach privately to high level players on just the process alone. You will see a video lesson (and a new ebook section) somewhere around lesson 14 that goes further into this and will repeat some things you 'll learn here. But...
It is by design that a future lesson will repeat elements of this message as it is THAT important. So apply what you learn and you'll add another powerful tool to your mental game arsenal. New distinctions and processes will be covered in Part II of this lesson that build on what you're about to use here.
Mental Preparation - Part I
There are many, many things you can and should be dong prior to a round of golf. Especially a competitive round. Yet, as is typical, most every golfer will never do even half of what you're about to learn and do in your game from now on.
You see, I am a HUGE believer in preparation. In fact, you can look at every successful golf swing as reflecting proper preparation: stance, alignment, grip. The basics always, always, always matter in golf. Mental preparation is one of the easiest, least mentally taxing things you can do in your game to lower your scores today.
Want to play a bit better? Do two or three of these things you're about to read. Want to play a lot better? Do them all…
1) What are the course conditions? You must know them. At least be aware of some of the obvious conditions.
A) The weather -
- i) rain - umbrella, make sure you take an extra glove (or two!) proper rain clothes, 2 towels
- ii) sunny - sunscreen, lots of water, hat, lip balm
- iii) windy - lip balm
=> Wet weather -
if it is raining or moist the course will play longer. This means you'll be hitting longer irons to the greens and have to putt a bit firmer. These things affect your game massively. Some players really dislike slow greens (I'm one of them) and struggle on slower greens. I have to cope with this by shifting my mindset or I won't play to my potential.
=> Longer clubs into greens -
odds are you'll miss more greens. This is not a certainty, of course, but statistically you hit more greens the closer you are to them when hitting your irons. So because you'll likely miss a few more greens your short game will be on more demand. Knowing this you can relax manually when you DO miss a few more greens. You'll understand and appreciate it doesn't mean you're necessarily "playing poorly." Are you following me.
=> Green Speed -
The green speed shouldn't matter. Especially when competing, because EVERYONE else is playing the same greens. The speed is what it is. It's not bad or good. As the wise player Gary Player once said, "there's no such thing as bad greens." Before reading on think about what he said. There is no such thing as bad greens...
When I really "got" what he was saying it made things so clear. I use it when I get a bit frustrated on slower greens. If your belief is that there is no such thing as bad genes then a green is a green is a green. It just is what it is. So now you focus on what is real. Getting the speed dialed in and picking tighter lines.
=> Pitching and Chipping -
Green speed and firmness are the critical aspects of assessing chipping. Whether this be deciding on technique and the type of chip to use.
The firmed the greens the shorter the distance you're going to land the ball.
- One third/two thirds
- Two thirds/one third
What does this mean? This is a great and simple rule to use in various conditions. Wet and slow (or just average conditions nothing out of the ordinary) you chip the ball in the air two thirds of the distance between you and the hole. The ball lands and rolls one third.
Hotter, drier conditions use one third carry distance and two thirds roll. Now of course all this is altered by the club selection but let's use the lob or sand wedge in this conversation. I'll assume you're doing most of your relatively short chipping with these two clubs.
this simple model when chipping allows you to more clearly visualize your landing area. And this ability to visualize a landing area and hit it there is one of the fundamental keys to consistent chipping.
=> Hot and Dry Conditions -
If the conditions are hot and dry then your landing areas change drastically. When hitting approach sots to the greens you're going to have to land the ball sooner and not carry it as far to the hole. If the greens are firm then hitting lower shots and running them in is a better decision many times. Especially if it's windy and hot!
- Clothing - you might want a hat as the head allows the most temperature to leave the body and to heat it up. Wearing a hat preserves liquids in the body and reduces overall fatigue
- Sometimes an umbrella isn't a bad idea in the heat. It will preserve energy
- Sunscreen - make certain you wear sunscreen. Nothing worse then getting burnt and trying to play quality golf.
- Wet towel - bring a towel dedicated to just keeping you cool, not for cleaning your clubs or anything else.
- Sweaty Grip - now this is incredible how no-one thinks about this. Or even if they do they don't really do anything about it. I have found an amazing product you can pick up for really cheap that works excellent at eliminating sweat from getting into your palms and ruining your ability to grip the club properly.
Think about it. How can you make a solid, aggressive golf swing if your hands are sweaty and you can't hold the club? This is where your wet towel comes in also. Make sure you wipe your hands and your grips. A wet towel rubbed on your grips can make them tacky again. A simple way of getting good contact between your hands and the grip.
Ok, here's a link of where to buy this product called Dry Grip.
Rub it in your palms and even if you sweat on top of your hands and wrists and the seat makes its way down between your fingers it won't turn into sweaty palms. It really is a great product!
Now these elements discussed above might seem to be in the domain of a golf tip but these areas are all essentially inner game/mindset issues. Once you know the conditions you are more equipped to make proper decisions. Decision making is clearly a mental game issue. And with this you'll know that the errors, if there are any, are not mental errors. This will save you numerous strokes per round.
=> Liquids - I can't tell you how many times I've been in a match and watched my opponent and the way they nourish (or malnourish) themselves and smiled inside. Why do I smile? Because I know that the mind is dependent on liquids, especially water, to maintain clarity of thought.
Your mind doesn't function at its optimal when pounded with pop and sugar rushes and the resulting "crash" this can cause. I' mention a few more things in the next area about nutrition but for now make sure you bring lots of water. Or Gatorade as it replaces the lost salts that occur in warmer weather.
Replenishing liquids lost in hot weather is absolutely essential if you want to be thinking and feeling as good during the last 4 holes as you do in the first 4. This tip is good for one stroke a side. It really is. Just by being hydrated your mind will allow you to make proper decisions and this will give you a competitive edge for certain.
=> Nutrition - Ok, now you MUST take this to heart and make it as automatic as practicing your golf swng. The way you nourish your body is the way you nourish your mind. As mentioned above most golfers don't give this area a second thought or if they do they treat it as an after thought instead of how serious they should treat it.
If you think you can stuff chocolate bars in your mouth, drink sugar filled pop, eat chips or whatever else that is useless for you body and mind and play consistent, high level golf, you are in denial. The body and mind are one and the way you treat one is the way you treat the other.
- Power bars - excellent as long as they're not sugar based. There are countless high quality, nutritious power bars on the market now to choose from. Find your favorites and keep them in your golf bag!
- Nuts - high protein nuts like Almonds are great to snack on and maintain a steadier sugar release allowing you to maintain a steady energy level which is essential for clarity of thought. Especially under pressure.
- Veggies - broccoli, cauliflower, celery and carrot sticks are really good. Easily digested. Quality food intake = quality thinking and energy throughout the round.
- Fruits - now this is a good idea for the last 3 or 4 holes of a round or tournament when energy levels tend to drop for most people. Fruits like Bananas are fast release sugars which means your mind will get the benefits quickly. Strawberries and other berries are great. If you need that "quick burst" make sure you use these sources instead of pop and candy!
I spent so much time in this lesson for many reasons. These areas are seldom focused on. As well, there are different levels of mental preparation and Part II is designed for more serious players. This content in Part I is for EVERY golfer, regardless of level and ambition.
Part II which comes somewhere around lesson 12 or 13 moves into mental imagery, mental rhythm techniques and a brilliant process for pre-round and pre-tournament preparation. These processes are powerfully effective at creating the right mental/emotional balance for playing quality golf. The kind you know you are capable of.
Take the above lesson seriously and make it natural to use all of them. There is absolutely no way you won't shoot better scores more consistently if you apply what you've just learned.