Jack Nicklaus has some great advice for making on course adjustments. Keep it simple by sticking to the fundamentals. This was easier for Jack because he had full self-awareness on the course. I’ve had a mixed bag of success making changes because I play too infrequently and lack full self-awareness. A champion like Nicklaus had so much experience to pull from. A desk jockey like me cannot possibly know every nook and cranny of my game. For me, the difficulty lies in judging WHY I am playing poorly and should I adjust? I try to judge three criteria before making a mid-flight correction:
- Am I fatigued? Sometimes you’ll play lousy because you are tired. If this is the case, most adjustments will not work. The golf swing is an athletic move and if you are out of juice the best thing is to acknowledge it and play on. Changing something while fatigued is acting on a false failure and can do more harm than good.
- Have I seen the pattern in the past and been able to adjust? The best type of fixes here are caught during a range warm up session. Seeing a strange ball flight pattern? Adjust and play it during the round. You are not supposed to work on your swing while warming up, but if you recognize a tendency that you’ve addressed in the past, you can reuse a band-aid that’s worked before. While on the course, if I observe my big miss (pull hook), I’ll generally know how to fix it from the lesson work I’ve done. Worst case scenario is you start to spray the ball inconsistently. Really simplify if you make a change here. Try something like taking an extra club or swinging slower. Sometimes your natural biorhythms are off. You just don’t feel right and everything you try that worked in a previous round doesn’t. That’s just how golf works and I’d hesitate to make a mechanical change under these circumstances. Don’t force it and just double down on the extra club or slower swing.
- Can I make a course management change? These are the best and lowest risk adjustments because there are no mechanics. Sometimes if you modify your thinking good things will happen. The absolute best adjustment I’ve got here is to stop flag hunting and play for the middle of the green. Do this a couple times and you’ll realize what a stroke saver it is.
Tried any mid-round adjustments lately? Got something that works or should be avoided? Please share and play well!