How Do You Get Past a Mental Blocker Hole?

We’ve all experienced this at some point.  You’re on the course and come to the hole that’s always problematic.  No matter how well or poorly you’re playing, the hole just cannot be solved and leads to the inevitable big number or the start of a poor run.  You’ve never played it well and can’t get it out of your head, and the distraction affects your preparation and subsequent play.  What do you do?

Mine is the par-3 16th at Rattlewood and it happened again last weekend.  The hole is a typically benign 160-yard play with bunkers guarding front right and left.  Golf courses are full of these mediocre par-3s and there’s no reason a reasonably struck short to mid-iron to the center of the green shouldn’t get the job done, but I can never recall making par or better here.  So I stepped to the tee and pulled a six.  Right away I felt uncomfortable at address.  Perhaps I was misaligned or wasn’t in a good athletic posture, but it didn’t feel right.  I probably should have reset but didn’t and pulled the trigger on a big push slice.  The ball was heading OB but cracked off a tree and caromed into the right greenside bunker.  I felt fortunate for the break but very uneasy standing over the long bunker shot from wet sand with the thought of the tee shot still in my mind.  You guessed it, I skulled the bunker shot low and right and hit my playing partner in the foot.  The ricochet actually prevented my ball from going into the tall fescue behind the green and left me behind a large mound but with plenty of green to work with.  After the obligatory round of apologies, I managed to pitch to three feet and hole the bogey putt.

After muttering a few non-printables, I exited the green but felt strangely good about myself for making a nice pitch on the third and saving bogey, where a triple or quad was definitely in play.  I finished up par – birdie and the lousy 16th didn’t seem to factor in.

So how do you extricate these demon holes?   What strategies have you used?  I’m thinking next time to pull a three or four-iron and bunt a little controlled knockdown run-up between the bunkers.  Basically, anything to change my thought process and remove all negative thoughts from previous blunders.  All suggestions are welcome, please share!