Above Par

How to Play Golf One Shot at a Time

September 13, 2023 Kathy Wood Episode 137
Above Par
How to Play Golf One Shot at a Time
Show Notes Transcript

"Just play golf one shot at a time."
It is common advice but most golfers don't know how to exactly get that done.

In this episode, I first break down what it means to NOT play golf one shot at a time.

By understanding what happens when you get ahead of yourself on the course, ruminate over a previous hole or shot,  or argue with the reality of the situation in front of you,  you can better understand what is required to play in the present moment.

I share with you the 3 steps required to hit golf shots "one at a time."

Reach out to Kathy at Kathy@KathyHartWood.com or on her website:



Oh my God, friend, how are you? Thanks for listening and tuning in and sharing the podcast with your friends. And golf buddies. It seemed like the summer went by so fast. I can't believe we're in the middle of September and we're already talking about holidays, or at least we are around here. My daughter who's in grad school at university of Alabama has her Halloween decorations all up in her house and on her office door on campus. She's way into Halloween. It's not my favorite holiday, but it is hers. she's already asking me if I've gotten my decorations out for Halloween. I'm like, no, I have not. Nor Thanksgiving, nor Christmas. We're going to be right here in the middle of September, enjoying one day at a time. And today I'm going to talk about one shot at a time. So it might give you an idea how to do that so we can slow down this fall. I want to talk about how to actually play golf one shot at a time. That conversation comes up all the time in people telling you just one shot at a time, one hole at a time. It's great mental advice, but it really boils down to how the heck do you do that? Why does that seem so challenging? I think most people would agree that it seems like a useful thing to do. Maybe we don't understand why we're supposed to do it, but we for sure don't really get or grasp how to do it. So I want to talk about that with you today. And I want to start by saying what hitting one shot at a time isn't. If we can define what it is not, it's going to help us get a better concept of what it actually is. So not hitting one shot at a time is about thinking about your score on the hole or on the round. You start adding them up in your head. You're ahead of yourself. You're in the future, so you're not present. Now, one would argue, is that a problem? I would tell you it's a problem if you're not focused over the shot at hand. If you're worried, if you're putting pressure on yourself, if you're not calm, certain or confident, if you can stay in your preferred state and think about your score and add up your score, fine. But if you're not present, which is usually what happens where we start putting a little bit of pressure on ourself, or we start worrying about what number we're going to shoot, whether we're gonna make a double bogey on this hole or triple bogey in this hole, or whether we're gonna have a high score at the end of the round, then we are not present. And what that means is that we're not going to think clearly. And if we're not thinking clearly, we're not likely to swing freely, and we're not gonna make our best swings. We're not gonna have our best results. Thinking about your score, whether it's your 18 hole score or the score that you're going to have on that hole is not hitting one shot at a time. If you're not in a state where you can think clearly and swing freely, which if you're not present is for the most part, we're not present. We're somewhere else. We're down the road. The second thing it's not is thinking about where you might miss the ball. We all have a tendency to do this, like don't hit in the water, don't hit it out of bounds. Don't hit it too far by, don't skull it out of the bunker, right? We're thinking ahead about where we don't want the ball to be instead of being over the shot and being intentional about what we actually want to do. What do you want to do at that moment? Where do you want your ball to go? That's about being more intentional versus where we don't want to go. We're thinking about the trouble and how we can make a mistake and what that's going to cost us and how that's going to feel. We get ahead of ourselves, right? So we're not hitting it one shot at a time. It's also not thinking about what's going to happen on 18 when you turn in your score. When you announce your score, you turn in your score, you have to look at your score, post it. It doesn't matter if it's a tournament or just a regular round of golf that you're playing. It's about what's going to happen emotionally or socially to you in your head when you finish 18. When your mind goes there, I call it the spanking that we give ourselves on 18. If you're going to give yourself a spanking at the end of the round based on what you're going to shoot, your mind is going to go there. You're not going to be present and hitting one shot at a time. You're already sitting behind 18 waiting to get old school spanking from yourself. So hitting one shot at a time is not that. The fourth thing that hitting it one shot of it at a time is not, is arguing with reality. So what that means is that you just made a six, you drive it off of the tee box and the next hole and you're in the middle of the fairway still complaining that you miss hit the shot on the hole before. You're in the past. You're arguing with reality. You're arguing with something that already happened. It could be that you hit your drive down the fairway and your ball's in a divot. And you're still arguing that your ball's in a divot, right? So if we've gone to the past and are complaining that I can't believe I did that on that last hole, we're not hitting it one shot at a time. We're living in the past. if we've hit a shot and we're complaining about the yardage or the club we have to hit or our lie, we're not hitting it one shot at a time. We're arguing with reality. We're wasting energy. We're making it harder for us to focus. Right. As the saying goes, anytime you argue with reality, you're going to lose, but only every single time. So that's about accepting what you got and then moving forward and deciding what you want to think on that next shot. So if we figured out what not hitting one shot at a time is, I feel like I'm going to have a double negative in here, but you're going to get me. If we can figure out what it's not. It's not about getting ahead and adding up our score. It's not about worrying about where the ball is going to go. It's not being concerned about how we're going to treat ourselves at the end of 18. It's not going back in time and complaining about what already happened. And it's not arguing with reality over the situation that we have in hand. Then hitting one shot at a time is the opposite of that. It is first being present. being in the moment, being focused and in your prefrontal cortex, not in the back part of your brain. I talk about how you do that as awareness. You got to be aware of what you're thinking. You got to be aware of what you're feeling at any given moment in time. And you want to learn how to mentally pivot and get yourself back to being focused. There are also tools that I share with you in some of my programs, one being unleash your game. That you can find on my website about tools that to get you back into the front part of your brain, so you can focus, there are tools that you can practice on a daily basis to increase your capacity to focus. So it's much easier for you to pivot back to that place. I have all that you can connect with me on my website, but you want to get back and be present over the shot that would help hitting one shot at a time. Our challenge in that is when we're in negative emotions and we have negative thoughts, most of the time we're in the back part of our brain, the back part of our brain. We don't focus. We lose access to that part of our brain, our prefrontal cortex, where we can think clearly, make good decisions. So the goal, like I say, in many podcasts is to hit as many shots from calm, certain and confident because from those states, for the most part, we have access to being able to focus and be present. Which is going to allow us to make swings one shot at a time and not get ahead of ourselves. The second thing is that you want to be intentional. You have to set an intention before you hit the shot, before you start your round. What's your intention? That means where do I want my ball to go? Not where do I want it not to go? And I'm also not saying that you're not aware. That there's danger on one side or danger on the other side or that you don't want to hit it above the pin because it's fast. It's about noticing and being aware of where you don't want to go, but then saying, okay, where do I want to go? It doesn't take a lot of time. Think about it. If you were driving a car and you're driving, you're like going, okay, well, I don't want to be on the side of the road and I don't want to be in the ditch on the left. And I don't want to be in the lake over there. You know, that's up ahead. It's not about pointing out all the trouble, it only takes two seconds to figure that out. It's like going, I want to be in the center of this lane right here, right? We don't have to spend a lot of time over there. It can be a quick little glimpse. We know it's there and this is where I want to go. The third thing is that you want to have your own back, which means that you're not going to beat the crap out of yourself. If you miss it a shot, you're not going to beat the crap out of yourself. If you don't have a score that you like, most of the time, what we fear and we dread our emotions. So that emotion of feeling disappointment or shame or rejection or embarrassment is what we're trying to avoid because we hate how that feels And we might beat ourselves up or not treat ourselves very well. And that's what we try and avoid. That's why our brain runs over there and starts focusing on that part of the game that on 18. The bigger of a deal that you make your score or your results on an individual hold or on at the end of 18, more your brain is likely to go there and get ahead of you. It's trying to protect you. It's like something bad's gonna happen. I need to warn you about this. We need to pay attention to this. But if it wasn't there, your brain wouldn't go there. If you took that away and said, I'm going to have my own back with whatever I shoot, whatever I make, I'm doing the best I can. I'm going to make some mistakes, but I'm going to learn from it that it's so much easier for your brain to stay present over each individual shot. So the three things for you to be able to play golf more from one shot at a time is to be present, be intentional and have your own back. And I'm going to argue that I think it's beneficial for you to start with number three first. The more you get where you can have your own back, it's much easier to be present and it's much easier to be intentional because your brain is more likely to be up in the front part so you can focus. You make good decisions. It's hard to make a decision on what you want to do when we're in the back part of our brain freaking out from pressure or stress or anger or frustration or shame or disappointment. And most of the time that's happening because we're not going to have our own back. We're going to beat ourselves up. We're worried about how we're going to feel. We're worried about feeling an emotion, right? I might be disappointed on a problem, I can handle it. And when that happens, then step one and step two are much easier to come by so that you can think clearly and swing freely so that you can play one shot at a time. So that your brain doesn't rush ahead, start adding up the score and freaking you out and worrying about what's going to happen at the end of 18 or the end of a hole. Now, I'm also going to say if you do get ahead and you do start thinking about it and it doesn't bother you, you're still able to focus and it's not a problem. You're welcome to add up your score and go there and do all the things. But if you can't stand over a golf shot and be present, if you're worried about your score, If you're thinking about the consequences, if you're worried about people standing around the green and it's interfering with your ability to swing, then you're not swinging one shot at a time, meaning you're not present, you're not intentional, and you're not having your own back. All right, my friends, one shot at a time, one day at a time through the fall. There's no rush to get to Halloween, Thanksgiving or Christmas. All right, start practicing present, intentional. and have your own back. And if you need some tools or want to look into unleash your game, you can go to my website at KathyHartWood.Com. All right, have a beautiful week and I'll talk to you next Wednesday. Bye.