Category Archives: course management

There’s no “If” in golf – part four

bob's email1

“On the course, what is feared is like a magnet. Water, bunkers, trees, ravines, high grass – whatever you fear turns magnetic.”Wiffi Smith

By Ian Hardie

In the post There’s no “If” in golf – part three I asked you to keep a list of shots for a few weeks to start you on your way to removing the shot that I call the “If” shot from your game

A shot that is altogether too commonly played by golfer’s around the world when they find that their golf ball isn’t the middle of the fairway after their tee or subsequent shots

Instead of looking at their situation and realising that it’s not going to be easy to move forward – which should result in them coming up with a play that may not necessarily be one that goes straight at the flag, rather it should be one they are very confident in doing

They pull out a fairway wood, hybrid or iron and aim straight at the flag while thinking:

“If I can hit a really good shot……………. I can get out of the rough, over the tree, past the creek, over the sand trap and onto the green”

The result as you may be aware is that more often than not, they end up making a big score on the hole and from there – normally the rest of their round disintegrates

This is because the “If” shot is based on their belief that they will be able to produce it

“If” they can hit their “absolute best ever shot with this club”

Something that the golf ball that’s about to be hit – doesn’t care about in the slightest – as I wrote about in this popular post

To get rid of it from your golf game, I suggested that the best thing you could do is………….

Actually, I’ll come back to that in a minute as what I think would be more use to you right now is to take a look at an email I got from a Golf Habits reader called Bob

If you didn’t happen to notice – I made it into the image at the top of this post

There are two things I would like to discuss about that email, with the first of them being that Bob has clearly understood exactly what it was I have been getting at in this series of posts

In keeping his list of shots – it obviously didn’t take him too long to see the pattern that helped him to realise exactly what has been a major contributing factor to his inconsistent golf game over the years:

A large amount of shots played each game where he was less than 30% confident before hitting his shots

I don’t know exactly how many shots like that Bob was playing each game as he felt too embarrassed to share his actual data that he had gathered but let’s just consider that idea for a minute

When it comes to most other parts of our lives – we look for certainty or as close to certainty as it is possible to get:

We look for stability in employment and relationships

We look for guarantees that products we buy will work for a reasonable amount of time

We look for sure things or at least a minimal possibility of loss when it comes to finances

Yet on the golf course – millions of golfers around the world attempt to hit golf shots

That they will be less than 30% confident that they can hit well!

Are you beginning to understand this better now?

The reason that the “If” shot is so destructive – is that deciding to play it – goes against our basic human nature of wanting certainty in the things we do

You might just want to read that bit again by the way!

Consider it this way:

While you are standing over the ball feeling 30% confident that you can hit the shot you have decided upon – somewhere in the back of your brain

There’s a part that knows there is a 70% chance of the shot failing

How well do we perform as humans if we think there is a possibility of failing at something?

I have a feeling that your scorecards will easily show you the answer to that question

The other thing I wanted to point out from Bob’s email is that he initially struggled with putting a percentage on his level of confidence over the ball before hitting a shot

So he modified what I suggested and instead turned it into ‘a number out of 10’

Which could easily be converted and shown as a percentage amount once his list was compiled

He tells me that he decided to use ‘1 out of 10’ if he felt basically no confidence at all over the shot, through to ‘10 out of 10’ when he was supremely confident although as I would have expected – he didn’t end up with any 1’s or 10’s on his list – mostly 2’s, 3’s,7’s and 8’s

Which is something I’m going to talk more about in ‘There’s no “If” in golf – part five’

Until then if you haven’t started your list or you found it too tricky to estimate percentages – I’d suggest that you refresh your memory as to what to look for by reading There’s no “If” in golf – part three again and just as I suggested last time feel free to send me your finished list or simply an email like Bob did – to tell me how it’s helped you – by using my contact form to do that

Until then

Play well


Related Posts

There’s no “If” in golf

There’s no “If” in golf – part two

‘There’s no “If” in golf – part three’

Why listening to other golfers is costing you shots every game

Is your golf based on other golfer’s false ideas?