“Should I speed up or slow down?”
It’s a question I’m often asked by golfers regarding how they should play. My advice is to play like your personality, because for me your golf tendencies should follow your everyday ones. If you go about your day in an easy-going and relaxed manner, then it makes sense to play golf in a similar way (think Freddie Couples). The same applies for an intense or fiery individual playing in a style complementary to those traits (Jon Rahm, perhaps).
At a clinic I was giving a couple of years ago, a golfer asked if he should slow things down on the course because he was a very quick and animated player. His pennant teammates had been urging him to tone things down, but he was in a quandary about the whole situation. While explaining his dilemma, I noticed he couldn’t stand still so gave him some advice that was music to his ears.
“Play to your personality,” I said. He yelled “Yesss!!” and ran off pleased as punch, knowing he’d been given free rein to play the way he wanted. In a way, I understood what his teammates were getting at because his unbridled enthusiasm at the clinic certainly stood out. But he had a hyper personality. I felt this energy and positivity would help, not hinder, his golf and, as a result, benefit the team when he won his matches.
“Finding your best way to play is an important piece to this puzzle.” – Nick O’Hern
Now, how do you transfer all this into your game on the course? Well, for an upbeat energetic type, I’d say don’t take too long over the ball. The more time you spend over it, the more distracted you’ll become and probably start thinking about things you shouldn’t, which leads to uncertainty and indecision.
Conversely, if you’re a methodical, thought-provoking person then not rushing while over a shot will be a good thing. As long as you’re not holding up play, make sure you are settled, have all your ducks in a row (so to speak) and pull the trigger when you feel ready.
Not only does all this apply while hitting shots, but also for between shots as well. Although typically, this is more a one-sided affair because the common tendency for golfers is to rush down the fairway (or into the rough) to get to their ball. Off the course, these same people are pretty cruisy individuals but put a white ball in front of them and all of a sudden Jekyll turns into Hyde. For them, strolling down the fairway would be better than trying to set a new record for the fastest way to shoot a bad score. Golf is meant to be enjoyed and yes, there’s the competitive element to it. It’s why I love playing the game. But, playing to your potential and shooting good scores is when you get the most enjoyment out of it. So, finding your best way to play is an important piece to this puzzle.
Next time you’re out on the course, make a conscious effort to play like your personality. Forget the score and see if you can approach things like you would in everyday life. At the very least you’ll feel more comfortable out there and the results might surprise you.
See here for more opinion pieces from Nick O’Hern and New Zealand Golf Digest.