Tuesday, June 23, 2015

How do I avoid a mental breakdown in golf ?

That is a great question and I really am in need of an answer. Until two days ago I was convinced , that my mental game is part of my strong side in golf and that even with some limited abilities in my technical department , I can use this strong mental game to the course and get the job down.

Yet, when I played my last round I experienced again the total opposite. It literally was like there was two people on the course. One playing the front 9, one hacking the back 9. Two different swings, shot shapes, putts, behaviors. Scary would be the word I would use if I would see someone play like that.

The difference was , that I was that someone.

In the end it became clear, that I easily can shot par or better on any 9 holes at any time, if I am able to keep my focus, have my thoughts sorted and directed, block negative feelings and thoughts completely and let my natural swing do the job.

On the front 9 of Miami Shores Golf and Country Club I played a good round. Not sensational , but a good round. Despite not striking the ball as good as I can, I kept it in play, moved the ball forward nicely and gave myself opportunity to make some parts. I did make a couple birdie putts. So it was OK. Got up and down a few times. I felt good, calm and content with what I had done.

On the back 9 I started out with a birdie opportunity which ended up in a bogey. My mind was immediately starting to race a little. My next tee shot almost made to he hazard. I was able to get to the ball, but made a very poor decision in regards to club selection and only moved it forward a few yards. Leaving me a clear shot to the green, but way too long for those fast greens. I saved a bogey , which was a little miracle. But I was very unsettled inside.

That showed on the following holes. I never really felt comfortable over the ball again. My mind more busy working on the outcome of the round and the tournament than being in focus for the moment.

I was not able to get myself under control and dropped shot after shot, even missing a 2 foot putt ( which I did not in months). With every shot I lost, my confidence suffered more.

In the end I shot one of my worst back 9 ever. Frustrating.

I can not comprehend why that happens. Out of my last 6 rounds of golf, I only had one decent 76 and not in a tournament. It seems that I am able to start well, but that I am not able to contain my focus and my positive attitude and block all outside influences. Circumstances around me seem to enter my thought process on the course. If not conscious then subconscious. At this point I could not even tell what it is all about. Work, finances or whatever. But there is a distraction within me and it causes a lot of trouble. I am able to restrain this distraction for parts of my golf rounds and for parts of my practice sessions. But there is a trigger somewhere, which starts those things to come out and in and sneak into my brain.

Until just recently I was on the way to tackle this exact task 100 %. I know that some of my supporters and friends say that this is normal. Even the PGA big shots have those moments. I agree, there are moments like that. But we are talking about moments! Not entire rounds or days or weeks.

So of all things I need to work on, this very mental aspect is number 1 on my priority list. Practice is good and playing is important. But all is for nothing if I am not able to keep my mind in focus and under control.

I guess the first thing I need to do is to find the source of the problem. That I will have to do by myself. At least I figure that there is nobody who can help with that. The second thing I is finding some ways to understand, learn and practice my mental game even more.

For that I will seek help online. There is plenty of information. But I also reach out to all my fellow players. Professionals and amateurs alike. Also to all other athletes or specialists.

I would appreciate any information about sources, ideas, tips or maybe even experiences.

Being in the middle of preparing for some bigger evens I really need to find a way to get myself back in a mental state which allows me to 100 % focus on the task on hand and when on the course be exactly there.

I guess that is where I caddy comes in. As Jordan Spieth said in his press conference. He was not hitting good shots at all. But his caddy encouraged him, helped him to pick clubs, shot shapes and read putts and motivate him to stay on it.

But where would I get a caddy like that with my current status? Right now I have occasional help on the course. That is nice, but in the end not the help of a caddy.

There needs to be a way to get this done. I believe I have all I need right now to play. But I need to have my mindset realigned.

So let the ideas and tips roll in and let's see if there is something I can find to be helpful and doable.
This week is an off week. I practice and play one or two times before another event on Sunday. So there is some time to work on this or at least start working on it.

Looking forward to get some messages.

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