Why’d I Do That?

Your part­ner hits into trou­ble, then you do the same

Golf Digest (South Africa) - - Play -

ou’ve been team­ing nicely, play­ing steady, nei­ther stress­ing the other out. Then dis­as­ter strikes: On a tough driv­ing hole, your buddy ares a tee shot into the wa­ter. He turns to you and

Yut­ters those aw­ful words: “Sorry, part­ner, you’re on your own.” Sud­denly the en­tire weight of your golf ex­is­tence is on your shoul­ders. Sure enough, your shot fol­lows his into the drink.

Or maybe you’re play­ing a headto-head match. Your op­po­nent pumps one out-of-bounds, so all you have to do to prob­a­bly win the hole is drive it any­where in play. What do you do? Send it O B right be­hind him. When your part­ner – or op­po­nent – screws up and you’re hit­ting next, take a breath and de­vise a plan.A few tips:

(1) Em­brace the op­por­tu­nity. Don’t look at it as, Oh, no, it’s all on me! This weak­ens you men­tally. Ex­pe­ri­enced play­ers in team com­pe­ti­tion agree be­fore­hand never to apol­o­gise to their part­ners.You both know you’re do­ing your best.

(2) Think­ing It’s my turn to help cre­ates too much ten­sion. Go through your usual pre-shot rou­tine; it’ll help you stay loose. And don’t freeze over the ball –wag­gle the club, move your feet. Fo­cus on nor­mal tempo, even slower than nor­mal. Un­der pres­sure, most play­ers rush.

(3) Play a shot you know you can pull o , even if it’s not pretty, or hit less club o the tee so you stay in play.These are good con dence builders to help you come through in the clutch. When you’re feel­ing pres­sure, talk to your­self in phys­i­cal – not emo­tional – terms. That three-footer is le to right, not to stay 1 up. Think of shots as maths prob­lems, things to be solved dis­pas­sion­ately. Fo­cus on your tar­get clearly just once, then swing. The more you look up to see the tar­get, the more likely you’ll dis­rupt your rhythm and cre­ate doubt.

MOR­RIS PICKENS, PHD Some­times one bad shot can de­fine a part­ner­ship. In the 2004 Ry­der Cup, Phil Mick­el­son and Tiger Woods came to the 18th hole in their four­somes match tied with Dar­ren Clarke and Lee West­wood. Mick­el­son hit his tee shot so far off line it came to rest against an OB fence. Tiger, vis­i­bly mad, had to take an un­playable. They lost the hole to a bo­gey, set­ting the tone for a lop­sided Euro­pean vic­tory. Rick Smith

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