by Michael Riggs
We all remember our third grade teacher telling us about the three tenses of verbs; past, present, and future. What Mrs. Carlsile left out, though, was to play golf effectively (and live life, for that matter) there is only one tense that matters.
Everything that has happened on the golf course up to the shot at hand is in the past. Overly simple, right? Wrong. I have yet to work with a player (over 2,500 and counting) that isn’t challenged by the proposition of letting the past be the past and not letting thoughts and emotions from past shots bleed into the current shot. Whether the previous shot was a pure 7 iron to two feet or a driver that sliced into the drink; each shot is over and done and must be left behind. Bringing the frustration of a mishit or the elation of a great shot into the current shot process will most certainly pull your mind off of the job at hand.
You are six over with three holes to go, your best round ever is staring you right in the face — as long as you don’t blow up and bogey your way in. Ooops, there is that ever magnetic future tense pulling you away from the here and now. As a result, your mind shifts from the details of the current shot onto the fears or aspirations of the next shot. The game cannot be played effectively in the future.
One hundred and fifty five yards out, slight wind at your back, perfect lie in the middle of the fairway, firing at a back right pin with no real trouble back or right of the green. It’s time to go at the stick with a solid 8 iron. High and stop.
This is present tense thinking. Regardless of the shot that got you to this point or the birdie putt that will follow this shot, the only shot that matters is this 8 iron.
Target. Solid swing.
One of the most elusive pieces of the mental game puzzle is the need to “get now and stay now”. Learn to let go of the past – good or bad. Practice disregarding the future – good or bad. Develop the ability to lock in on the now – good, no bad.
Thanks, Mrs. Carlisle.
Before every shot, tell yourself that this shot is the only one that matters.
In Another’s Words…
“Don’t let yesterday take up too much of today.”– Will Rogers, humorist