This is a strange tale of improvement that I need to pass on. It was spawned a couple weeks ago when I responded to a post by The Grateful Golfer in which Jim wrote about fighting off bouts of poor play. In line with that, I mentioned the technique I had tried of writing your score down hole by hole for the entire round, before you play, and how it had started to work.
As readers of this space know, I’m a huge fan of mental game improvements and a big proponent of all of Dr. Bob Rotella’s books. I’ve never seen this technique written about by Dr. Bob or anyone else, but got the idea thinking about the success Bill Walsh had with scripting the first 20 plays of a football game. Walsh was helping his teams prepare and visualize good starts. His teams always seemed to execute well in the first quarter and my golf game was in need of some first quarter magic. I was getting killed by poor starts.
The specifics: In addition to the scores, I was predicting GIRs and putts per hole. My approach was optimistic but reasonable. I didn’t chart any career rounds but felt it was a good idea to plan for the best ball striking possible, at least to a level that I was capable of. In addition to plenty of GIRs, I threw in a few bogeys to keep it real, but no three-putts! I realized that this technique might be deviating from the stay in the moment mindset associated with good mental approaches, but I had seen enough bad starts that I didn’t care. I just wanted to try something new that might help. After all, it was a different kind of visualization. You write a goal down on paper to cement it in your mind’s eye, right? Same idea.
The results: As I mentioned, my early season ball striking was terrible, but boy has it been working after the change. My first round out, I scripted 16 GIRs and hit 14. The second round was in a four-man scramble and we finished 4th out of 33 teams. I performed well in pressure situations (hitting last) which felt like a positive. And last weekend I played in very heavy wind and managed to hit six of nine greens on the front nine on my way to a two-over 74. I had scripted 72 strokes, 13 greens, and 31 putts even knowing that I’d be playing in difficult conditions. I finished with 74-9-29 which was probably the best wind game I’ve ever played.
I am not sure what is going on with this technique, but I suspect it allows you to visualize success based on playing to your full potential, but turning your full potential into your comfort zone. Is 16 greens in my comfort zone? Heck no, but if I can fool my mind into thinking that it is, maybe I’ll get closer more often.
Admittedly, there was a physical element as well. I haven’t been playing or practicing much, but have been working out daily and doing a lot of rotational work to rebuild flexibility in my torso. Also, on Saturday, during The Players, I rug putted for five hours during the telecast. Call me crazy, but I was very comfortable the next day on the greens, wind or no wind. So there’s probably a combination of mental and physical preparation at play.
So there you have it. Try scripting your next round down to the finest detail and see if Golf’s West Coast Offense will work for you!