If you watch professional golf on TV you’ve probably heard a post round interview with a tour player who talks about “thinking” his way around the golf course. You’ve also probably heard someone talk about letting go and just “playing.” To play great golf, there has to be a balance of the two. Let’s examine thinking and playing and how they work together in a round of golf.
THINK (Compute, Decide, Weigh Options)
Here’s a list of things that I would think about in a round of golf before I hit a shot.
How far am I from the hole?
What kind of lie do I have?
Where’s the wind coming from? How strong is the wind?
What kind of shot should I hit?
What club should I hit?
Where is my target? The flag? 20 feet left? The front edge of the green?
All of these things add up to a final answer that gives you the best chance to succeed with the shot you are about to hit. Sometimes laying up on a par 5 is the best decision. Sometimes going for it on a par 5 is the best decision. Whatever you decide, it’s time to PLAY!
PLAY (Execute, Perform, Go)
Playing a golf shot takes all of the thinking that you have done and puts it on stage. Once the computations are made, you must accept the possible outcomes and execute the shot. I sometimes tell players to think like an adult, and play like a kid. Junior golfers are often fearless, and don’t worry about the possibility of a bad shot.
They just let it go.
This is a great mindset to have, but it doesn’t mean you should shoot at every flag, or make bad decisions. You can make a “reckless” golf swing at a “safe” target 30 feet left of the flag. That’s how I define playing golf.
Aaron Olson is Staff Teaching Professional with JRG/TSGA programs at the Raven Golf Club Phoenix. In addition, he is Assistant Director of Nike Junior Golf Camps hosted at the Pebble Beach Resorts on the Monterey Peninsula. Click Here for more information on private and group coaching with Aaron and the entire JRG/TSGA Staff.