We all have a favorite golf hole. It might be a hole that we played well in the past, the most challenging one at our favorite course, or maybe there’s a nice painting of the hole in your home office, and you’re still dreaming of making a birdie there someday.
Whatever the case, we all want to do well on “our favorite hole,” but things don’t always work out as we planned in golf. We may be excited or anxious when reaching that hole and put too much pressure on ourselves — or maybe we are a little overconfident. Perhaps, we should consider some thoughts from a professional on how to master our favorite golf hole.
Get Your Emotions in Check
The first key is to get our emotions in check. That is important whether you are playing your favorite hole at the local muni or No. 12 at Augusta.
“Anxiety can make your body get tight and tense and cause you to make a poor golf swing,” says Nicholas Sage, first assistant golf professional at North Oaks Golf Club. “It is natural to get anxious on the golf course. It is crucial to remember to breathe normally and keep positive thoughts in your head.”
So, heightened emotions in golf are not necessarily a good thing, even if you are approaching the hole where you shot an ace the last time out.
“When a golfer gets to their favorite hole, they should not be anxious because it is their favorite hole!” Nick says. “The hole sets up well to their eye, and they are excited to play it. Golfers tend to get more anxious on the holes they do not like.
“They will step up to the tee and remember the great shots they hit on their favorite hole and the bad shots they have hit on their least favorite hole. The game of golf is very much a mental game. The brain can do some great things for your golf swing if you have positive thoughts going into your swing.”
The Power of Positivity
A positive attitude is the right frame of mind to carry to your favorite golf hole. Doubts can creep in, but pushing them away with memories of great shots can breed success.
“My favorite holes in golf all visually set up nicely to my game,” he says. “Past success on those holes all factor into it being my favorite, as well. Every time I walk up to my favorite hole, I try to visualize the best shots I have hit on that hole and try to recreate them.”
Of course, we never deem one good hole a successful outing on the course. It takes a number of great shots to constitute a good round. Therefore, it would make sense to play our entire round with that same positive mentality — no matter how we are playing.
“All golfers should go into each hole with a fresh mindset, especially if they scored poorly on the previous hole,” Nick says. “If you step on the tee and are thinking about a bogey or double bogey made on the previous hole, that can cause tension in our golf swings and cause us to make a poor swing resulting in another bad score. Dustin Johnson is the best at this because he has a very short memory while playing golf. If he scores poorly, he will quickly forget about it and make a good swing on the next tee."
Taking on The Masters
So, if we master this skill on our favorite golf hole, then we should be able to take that mentality to No. 12 at Augusta and do well too, right?
“If anyone is lucky enough to play Augusta National, it will most likely be a once-in-a-lifetime walk,” Nick says. “Naturally, you will be anxious the whole round because you want to score so well. The 12th at Augusta is a whole different animal because of the way the wind blows at Amen Corner. You will feel it blowing one way on the tee and see the flag blowing the other direction on the green — and sometimes the second you strike the ball, the wind has shifted. The key to playing the 12th at Augusta is to play to the center of the green and try to stay away from firing at those tucked pins.”
Maybe we will just keep the 12th at Augusta as our favorite hole to watch, instead.
Photo Courtesy of Peter Wong.