By Josh Zander
September seems to be a popular month for Member-Guest tournaments and Club Championships. I am getting a lot of frantic calls from students who need a tune up as they feel pressure to perform. Of course, you would like to play well in your club championship and you don’t want to play poorly at your buddy’s member-guest. You may not be invited back!!
While your swing may need a tweak or two, the real question is how to deal with pressure. The first thing to understand is that pressure in 100% self imposed. The golf ball has no idea if you are on the first tee of a tournament or if you are out for a casual Sunday round. From my point of view, pressure can be summed up in one thought: What will they think of me? I’ve got news for you, your friend will still like you even if you don’t hit a good shot. Your competitors will still respect you as long as you observe good etiquette and handle yourself well. The truth is that your friends are probably worried about what you think of them. Don’t worry about what others think and you are well on your way to diffusing the pressure.
Instead of stressing about your swing breaking down because of the pressure, learn how to handle pressure. First, know that the worse thing that can happen to you if you hit a bad shot is NOTHING. Johnny Miller is known for calling people out when they “choke” under pressure. Decision making gets clouded and swings get tight under pressure which is a formula for disaster. Next time you feel pressure, take a deep breath. Inhale deeply through your nose and say the words “alert mind”. Then exhale through your mouth and say “calm body”. If a negative thought comes into your head, let it cycle through and get back to the task at hand. Get back to your calming breaths and enjoy yourself.
Never let that little white ball tell you how to feel! You are in charge and make a decision to enjoy yourself regardless of how you play. If so, you just may be hoisting that winner’s trophy. If not, you will still be ok. In my book, you have won if you have enjoyed the experience.