You’ve just drained that curling 20-footer for birdie and you’re on top of the world. Brimming with confidence and positive momentum, you step to the next tee and whack your drive out of bounds. What happened? Nothing is more frustrating then the dreaded F.U.A.B., but why do we do it? F.U.A.B (Expletive After Birdie), as it is known in my playing group, is a physical breakdown caused by an altered mental state. Your mind has relaxed too far and rendered your body incapable of execution. The PGA Tour doesn’t track F.U.A.B. for obvious reasons, but the Bounce Back stat is tracked. Bounce Back is the opposite of F.U.A.B. and captures how often a player can post an under par score for a hole after an over par hole, and is highly valued by tour professionals.
We see the manifestation of F.U.A.B in team sports all the time. A football team takes a huge lead into the locker room at halftime only to melt down in the 3rd quarter as they relax and think they’ve got the game won. Or the same team has a lead late and employs the prevent defense (failure to attack and stay aggressive) which is a different flavor of the same disorder. In either case, the team psyche is devastated.
As I work through my fall golf season, I’ve been employing different drills to help steel my game against these breakdowns and I’ve got a good one for F.U.A.B. avoidance. The key is to pressure yourself after a good shot and condition your mind against relaxation.
The drill: Get to your short game practice area when it’s not crowded. Take two balls, three clubs you like to chip and pitch with, and your putter. First, play 9-holes of a two-ball, best-ball scramble. Take two shots from every position alternating clubs and using easy, medium, and difficult lies. Take two putts from the better of the chips and try to get up and down as much as possible and record your score. This will get you comfortable with technique and build confidence. Then play 9-holes of a two-ball, worst-ball scramble. You’ll notice the pressure get’s ratcheted up immediately as you always have to play the more difficult result. The urgency of playing good shots AND following up a good shot or putt with an equally good effort is the key to F.U.A.B avoidance.
The results: Yesterday, during the worst-ball game, I chipped in on a hole with the first ball using my pitching wedge. But the pressure remained intense because the chip-in meant nothing; I had to execute the next shot without relaxing. I found this aspect of the drill difficult but very beneficial. Using par as two strokes per hole, my best ball score was one-over par and my worst ball score seven-over. While seven-over doesn’t sound that great, I was fairly pleased because none of my over-par holes were worse than three strokes and with the exception of the hole out chip, my second chips were usually better than the first. I concentrated reasonably well on the worst ball game but did let my mind wander a bit on a couple of second putts, after the first putt had been holed – need to work on this.
Today, I get to test this on the golf course. We’re scheduled to play in 10-20 mph winds so it may not be a great test (I don’t imagine too many birdies will be carded) and I may need a new drill for mental toughness while playing in adverse conditions. Give this F.U.A.B. Avoidance drill a try and let me know how it works for you. Good luck!