Is This A Game . . . Or What?
By Terry Koehler, The Wedge Guy

Terry Koehler has been in the golf industry for over 30 years and currently spends his days as the President of EIDOLON Golf, a small premium wedge company in Victoria, Texas. He's been blogging for over 3 years and has written hundreds of articles ranging from golf tips to equipment issues. His blog will appear on ClubSG twice per week. You can reach Terry to have your golf questions answered at

I don't think anyone goes to the golf course without at least wanting to play to their potential, whatever that might be. Whether you are a tour professional, doing this for a living, or a casual weekend player who just wants to have fun, playing to your perceived potential just makes it all the must more enjoyable to be out there, doesn't it? This topic was stimulated by a question from Mike M., who asked:
I want so badly to play well. I practice a lot and read about the mental game, but when I go to the course, I just can't pull it off and hit the shots I do on the range. What can I do to take my range swing to the course and play to my potential?
Well, Mike, welcome to golf the way everyone plays it. There is not a player on earth, from the best tour pros on down, who hits it as well on the course as on the range. If you’ve ever been to a PGA Tour event and spent time on the range, you wonder how these guys ever miss a fairway or green. But it is said that the longest distance in golf is that from the range to the first tee. And there’s a lot of truth to that. On the range we are totally immersed in the swing and our mechanics, repeating the moves we are learning or have learned. Sure, there’s a target line we are aware of, but there is no penalty for missing it. And the fact that we are setting up the same way, ball after ball, does eliminate part of the process.

But the real culprit is what we call “pressure”. It might be a large wager, trying to impress your friends, or simply playing to what you perceive as your potential, but there is pressure when you are on the course. Bad shots have a penalty and good ones a reward. And the goal of all the mental coaches and trainers in golf is to figure out how to help each one of us deal with it the best way we can. And it sounds to me like you are putting a lot of pressure on yourself to perform. Lighten up!!!!

The funny thing about pressure is that it affects each of us differently. I have golf buddies who will play their best when the bets get right, but can’t get all that interested until they do. There are others that, if they stop to think about how much is riding on this hole or that shot, can’t execute to their best level.

Everyone has to find their own way to keep their “game face” on and perform to their best ability. But here are a few of my tips that might help.
1. Get small. If you find yourself thinking about how you’re scoring, or the size of the bet on the line or anything outside the shot at hand, “get small”. Rein in your thoughts to focus only on the exact shot you want to hit. Recall shots just like it that you’ve pulled off in the past, and the simple swing thoughts that were in your mind when you were hitting it well recently. There is really no such thing as a round of golf, it’s just one isolated swing event after another. Each one really has nothing to do with the one before or after. Stay small and get out of the moment if you need to.

2. Enjoy the process. Unless you are doing this for a living or playing for wagers that are too large, the main reason to be on the course is to enjoy the game itself and your friends, right? You’ve set aside the morning or afternoon to enjoy yourself, so make that your first priority. Take in the sights, and sounds, and feel of the golf course. Relish in the practice swings for each shot and the challenge of pulling it off. Give yourself a break.

3. Remove the pressure. If you put too much pressure on yourself to hit your best shots repeatedly, or to score well, it can take the fun out of the game. I recently dropped out of a game at our club because the other guys were there more for the “action” than for the golf. That isn’t why I’m out there at all. I really enjoy those guys, but after working at golf all week, I really don’t want to have to work that hard on the course to keep from losing my shirt. If you are not comfortable with the pressure that you feel on the course, change it.

4. Change your routine. If you’re finding that golf isn’t as much fun as you think it should be, stop to figure out why (that’s what I did above). And change the influences, whether they are from the outside or from within, that are taking the fun out of golf. This game is more fun when you play well, so find the routine that brings out your best more often than not.
So, Mike, I hope those tips help you relax and have more fun on the course. And if you guys have any other tips or ideas for Mike, chime and share them, OK?

* The Wedge Guy's views and opinions are his own do not necessarily reflect those of SkyGolf.

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The Wedge Guy is sponsored by SCOR Golf, where Terry Koehler is President/CEO. He encourages you to submit your questions or topics to be considered for his columns on Tuesdays and Fridays. Each submission automatically enters you to win a SCOR4161 wedge to be given away monthly. Click the button below to submit your question or topic today.

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Terry Koehler is "The Wedge Guy" and President of SCOR Golf- The Short Game Company.

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