The mental secret for consistency
by Mark Fairbank – Head of Performance BSI Golf
Mark has a Bachelor of Social Sciences (majoring in Psychology) from UKZN and a Bachelor of Psychology (Honours), majoring in Sports Psychology from UNISA. Mark’s mental coaching combines his psychology training and competitive experience on the IGT Pro Challenge Tour.
“I want to be consistent” is the most common request that amateur golfers have of their coach, it’s the hunt for consistency that sells buckets and keeps flood lights on at ranges. While lessons with your local PGA Professional and hitting more balls a day than Vijay Singh will, as logic tells us, lead to an improvement in your swing, it is not the real key to consistency in performance on the golf course, this is because the game of golf, by nature, is inconsistent. It is the unpredictability of golf that makes it the greatest game on earth, the very inconsistency that we grapple with and work to control is the essence of what makes us love this game and invest so much into its mastery.
Golf is an inconsistent game, once the ball leaves your club face its eventual resting place is entirely out of your control. A purely struck drive could get a band bounce and end up behind a tree while a ball destined for a hazard could easily hit a tree and bounce back into the fairway. A perfectly struck chip could catch the edge of the fringe and accelerate past the flag while a bunker shot hit in the teeth can strike the flagstick and drop into the cup. A ball can fly into the bunker and somehow bounce through to finish on the putting surface, another could be purely struck and pitch on the green, only to spin into the bunker and end up barely playable in a shoe print. This is the inconsistent nature of golf, not forgetting that it is played out doors with Mother Nature having the final say on how a ball reacts through the air. Yet we strive to achieve consistency, and we can!
It is the acceptance of the inconsistent nature of golf that will produce more consistent performances!
We cannot control the result of our shots, the lies we get, the bounces or our total score at the end of the round, but we can control ourselves. In order to achieve the consistency that we so dearly want, we have got to be consistent at the aspects that we can control. Our emotions, preparation, pre-shot routine, enjoyment, reactions to bad shots, self-talk and general attitude on the course are all key elements that we can control and be consistent in.
Managing ourselves on the golf course is something we can be consistent at, it is an aspect that can be practiced but is often overlooked. Managing ourselves is significantly easier to do than trying to build a perfect golf swing, being consistent in our behaviours will produce consistency in performance and reduce the number of unpredictable components that make up golf. The search for consistency must begin with the acceptance that you will not find it in the game of golf, you will not find it in a golf swing or on the driving range, and you will find it by being consistent in your behaviour and attitude on the course.
Being better at controlling the only aspects of this beautiful game that we can control, ourselves, is the key to consistency, and you will find it there!