Total Recall

Last night I watched an interesting movie called “About Time.”  I know, “you’re no Gene Siskel” you might be saying, and you are right.  However, just endure my musings for a moment, as it pertains very well to golf. 

As I was saying…The main character in this movie (as with all the men in his family) can travel back in time.  They do this to fix their bumblings, find love, cover over mistakes, and even re-live the good moments in life, to cherish them for longer than us “mortals.” 

In golf we need to learn to do much of the same thing.  Although, we cannot travel back in time because we are mere mortals, we can use our past performances to our benefit.  The ability to recall past performance is a powerful thing. 

Recall can be our best friend, or our worst enemy.  For the majority of golfers it is the latter.  Oh, how many times have I heard a player say, “I just can’t get off that tee box,” or “man I miss all my short putts.”  Often times when I ask how the round was the emphasis of the answer is placed on what went wrong, the holes that were botched up, etc…History, and definitely the history we remember is often repeated. 

In the early 90’s I was watching golf as a wide eyed high school golfer.  Fred Couples, the hottest player in golf (especially if you ask the ladies…but I digress), had just hit it close at the last hole of a tournament to win.  When asked about the shot and what he was thinking about, the ever laid back Couples quipped, “the best 6 iron I ever hit.”  And there it is, at a prime moment to win a tournament, his thought was simple: recalling the best 6 iron he ever hit, and then let himself repeat that shot. 

What if more golfers had those thoughts?  Most of you get on streaks for a few holes, a few rounds, heck, even several months.  Your world is inundated with memories of good shots.  Bad shots do not phase you; you are “in the zone.”  Then a few shots start to get to you, they are all you think about and whammo!!  The slump hits.  A tune up with the pro does help, checking the basic mechanics of ball striking, chipping, putting, you name it, can get you back on track.  However, to get back “in the zone” you need positive recall. 

Here are a few tips and suggestions for you:

1.       Create a success journal.  As often as you can, write down your “bests” of the day.  Best iron, best wedge, best drive, best putt, best trouble shot, etc…

a.       Be as vivid and specific as you can.  Paint the picture on paper so you can play it out in your mind.
b.       Read through the journal periodically to get the senses back.   
c.       Use these pictures as spring boards to good shots when you play.

2.       Create a mental File.  When you hit a shot the way you want, take it all in, and store it up to retrieve later.

a.       What did it feel like?  Remember your rhythm, impact position, position at the top, whatever you can hold on to in order to help repeat it later.
b.       What did the shot look like?  How high was it?  How did it curve?  Where did it end up?
c.       The goal is to create positive files in your head to use later.

3.       If your shot was less than stellar, perform a re-do. 

a.       Go back through your routine, “re-hit the shot” in your mind (you may even do all of this physically as well), and picture it being the shot you wanted.
b.       Lock in the feel you wanted and throw away the feel (swing, stroke, etc…) that lead to the poor shot. 

4.       Practice using recall.  Dr. David Cook talks about a 3 step pre shot routine.  1) See it, 2) Feel it,
3) Trust it. 

a.       A good shot almost always starts with a good visual.
b.       Make sure parts of your practice are dedicated to cultivating positive recall.
c.       If you want to succeed when it matters, you must practice it and prepare for it.  What you repeatedly do day in and day out will come out when “it’s on the line.”

If you want to perform when it matters, you must “act like you’ve been there before.”  In essence, you must be able to time travel and use positive recall to your advantage.

The more you practice this trait, the better you will get at it.  Practice and prepare like a champion today.  Store those good shots, those good feels, and throw away the bad ones.  The best players in the world are getting better today, shouldn’t you?