In the first article we discussed the importance of developing your self-belief and confidence which we believe is the single most important golf success factor you can develop to have a long and successful career playing professional golf.
Our second article in the series shared the second golf success factor, practicing and mastering the shots from the tough lies around the greens to make par or better, and bogey at worst, plus becoming exceptional with your approach wedge shots within 100 yards of the flag.
What’s interesting when you look at the first two factors in our series is that the first factor –belief and confidence relates to how you think, and the second factor –mastering tough shots relates to how you perform.
You see all you really have is how you think, and how you think influences how the ball behaves.
Pretty simple when you look at it like this right?
Everything in golf revolves around these two characteristics –thinking and then behaving and yet learning how to become a successful golfer can be made to be much more complicated than this.
The sooner you realize that your job is to do a great job of managing the first (your mind), to manage the second (your ball flight), to produce the third, (your score) the better.
We call it the A, B and C of golf performance.
This is the biggest challenge you will face in your effort to become a successful professional golfer.
So how do you do that?
How do you manage the distraction?
Well, firstly understand that there are just two types of distraction—external distraction and internal distraction. You have the obstacles and challenges you face from tee to green that have been purposely designed into a golf course layout by the designer to distract you, plus the environmental conditions such as wind, rain, and variable temperatures that can challenge you.
All of this makes playing golf inspiring, stimulating and fun to play.
Then there are the mental challenges you face like your inner critic and coach, your fears, your limiting beliefs, and your hallucinations, which can get in the way of you swinging your golf club confidently and with a high degree of trust.
In today’s article we are going to introduce you to the third golf success factor, what we call “The Zero Point Formula.” The Zero Point Formula is an extremely powerful procedure that when developed fully will help to give you access to the competitive edge you need to become a successful professional golfer.
The Zero Point Formula describes a zero sum approach that you need to have for every golf shot you hit.
Zero sum means treating each shot as if it is always the first one by removing distraction from your performance.
When you hit a golf shot you can be influenced by a previous shot, or you can be influenced by a shot that you haven’t played yet.
You can also play the shot without the influence of the past or future, which is where the Zero Point Formula is extremely helpful.
Sports psychologists suggest that you play each shot in the present without the influence of previous shots or future shots, and this is sound advice, but you need a simple and effective way of doing it.
The challenge of playing each shot from a zero standpoint is difficult because many elite golfers think way too much about how to play a shot, and also the possible negative outcomes you might produce as a result.
Why do we do this?
We do this because we use a model/s of our golf experience to guide us in what we do, and the model not only guides us but can also distract us by giving us options that are not always helpful.
You see all you are really doing is exercising options or choices when you play golf shots that are based on your total golf experience up to this point of time.
You are deciding how you will play a shot based on your acquired skill and knowledge. You are basically manufacturing or creating a new experience which is different to reality itself.
Why do some golfers respond better than others under pressure?
They have a more useful and effective method or process for managing the reality confronting them.
There’s a saying that “peak performance occurs when the challenge facing you is matched by your skills.”
Successful professional golfers have acquired experience playing under pressure, like other golfers, but they have developed more useful maps or ways of interpreting the reality of the situation, and they have developed their skills to match these situations because they have better options to help them perform successfully under pressure.
You see your golf experience is very different and unique as compared to every other golfer.
Your golf experience describes the stored knowledge of your total golf experience, and this accumulated experience is encoded in your brain and used to create maps or processes, to make decisions, and to develop models and methods you use to play golf.
Think of it like this, you take your golf experience, which is the raw material, and you construct things with it.
It’s like constructing a building using materials that brings your shots into reality. The more varied and relevant the raw material you have acquired is, the more potential you have for creating more effective golf performance maps and models to operate that help you to perform confidently under pressure.
The material you use to create your golf reality is primarily based on your language, and language is a system that you use to help you describe your many experiences.
Why is language a system?
Language as used in a sentence has an order or sequence that can completely change its meaning if the sequence or order is changed.
Here’s two short sentences with the same amount of words that when arranged differently, changes the meaning of the experience completely.
1. The golfer hit the golf ball
2. The golf ball hit the golfer
You see how by changing the order or sequence of the words it changes the meaning to you?
Language is powerful when used properly, and has to be used carefully for you to generate more useful outcomes on the golf course.
Think about it, if you didn’t have knowledge of language and how to arrange it, how would you describe your golf experiences, or any experience for that matter?
For example if I ask you to think about your favorite golf ball right now, what brand of golf ball did you think of?
In a split second you came up with a name right? You used your internal language model to help you to answer the question.
You used your language system with its rules that you have learned from childhood to describe the experience in a way that you can understand it.
So your language ability is used to formulate your models, and to create maps of your experience.
Now I bet there are words you use in your sentences when you play shots that do not help you to generate a useful golf experiences?
I’m sure that you can see that if you can improve how you communicate to yourself you can improve your golf performance maps and models?
You will have more useful options, and you will make wiser choices when playing shots, resulting in better golf performances.
And here’s how you do it. Consistent and superior golf performance requires that you use a rich sensory map to manage your golf experience.
With the Zero Point Formula you focus entirely on each shot as if it is the first shot of the day.
In other words you start on zero for every shot you play.
You tune completely into your senses of sight, sound, feel, taste and smell.
For example imagine right now that you are standing on the first tee of a golf course you have never played before with your friends who also haven’t played the course.
You have no course knowledge at all, today is a new golf experience.
Now you could think about what you don’t want to do with the ball and all the problems that could eventuate, or you could do the following.
Come to Your Senses Process
As you are standing on the tee waiting for your turn to tee off you SMELL the fresh cut grass as a mower cuts the tee surrounds, and you FEEL a light and warm breeze blowing against the hairs of your skin on your right forearm. You FEEL the sun hitting the right side of your face like a magnifying glass, warming your skin.
You HEAR the trees above you moving and rustling around whilst you LOOK down the fairway and consider a distant tree that looks like a nice target to hit your tee shot towards.
You sip your coke and TASTE the sweetness of the sugar and FEEL the cold liquid go down the back of your throat.
You make a couple of slow and easy practice swings and you notice the heavy FEEL of the weight of the club-head as it swings back and through.
You FEEL the pressure of your feet on the ground as your body turns slowly back and through, and you FEEL the pressure changes in your hands as the club cocks and uncocks.
You HEAR the swoosh of the club-head as it reaches the bottom of the arc.
Now it’s you turn to hit.
Keep the sensations within you. Do not let them get pulled out of you into the target area. Focus on the sensory stimuli like hand pressure, foot pressure, your breathing and your body awareness.
From now on when you are going to hit any shot whether in practice or on the golf course, you will isolate each golf experience from every other by tuning completely into your sensory experience so that you treat each golf stroke as a unique and personal one.
The Zero Point Formula is the answer to improved performance on the golf course under pressure.
Superior Golf Performance = Inner Game – Outer Game
When you play a golf shot from now on focus exclusively on allowing all your senses to provide you with the information you need to keep you in the moment. By tuning into the external pressures that you notice acting on your body you will be focusing more on the inner game of golf, which is where your true golf ability resides.
The outer game is where distraction lives. Distraction gets in the way of you achieving superior performance by making you think too much, and these models and processes do not help you to achieve your desired outcomes.
Start to come to your senses today, and tune into your true golfing potential, and you will discover that you will gain a lot more from each stroke you make leading you ever closer to realizing your dream of becoming a successful professional golfer.
See you next week for part 4.
Lawrie Montague and David Milne - Pro Tour Golf College
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