Golf Strategy: Develop Selective Amnesia — Forget that Bad Shot!

By | January 25, 2020

Symptom:  You can’t forget that last bad shot.  You take several shots, or even several holes, to recover from one bad swing or errant shot.

So, you end up with a scorecard with mostly good scores, but a few really big numbers on a couple of consecutive holes.  And so your handicap stays stubbornly high, even though most of your shots and holes are quite good.

Description:  Forget the bad shot you just hit.  The shot you are about to hit is a new shot, unrelated to your previous bad shot.  Actually it is similar to a great shot you have hit in the past.  This is where the selective amnesia comes in — forget the shot you just hit, and remember the great shot from the past.  This will evoke a positive memory, and give you a good vibe, before you hit your next shot.  You will be calmer, more relaxed, and guess what — much more likely to hit a good shot!

Why it Works:  Golf is a unique game, in that we (hopefully) don’t hit the same shot twice in a row.  That is, you may hit a driver off the tee, but your next shot is a mid-iron into the green, not another driver.  And your next shot is a putt, not another mid-iron.  The point is that the shot you are about to hit is NOT RELATED to the shot you just hit.

Let it Go

But most Occasional Golfers let the emotion from a bad drive, or a bad mid-iron, or a bad putt, color their thinking and spill over into their next shot. This is a sure fire way to limit your performance on the course.

So, when you are preparing to drive, forget about the putt you left short for bogey on the previous hole.  Instead, remember the last time you hit a great drive.  On your mid-iron shot, remember the last time you stuck it close to the hole.  On the green, remember the last time you made that putt for birdie.  Those memories are a whole lot more relevant, and positive, to the shot at hand.

Forget the Bad Shot

Easier said than done?  Of course!  But look at the pros — they have bogeys on their scorecards (analogous to a double-bogey for Occasional Golfers) but always seem to bounce back with red numbers on subsequent holes.  The point is that even the best players have bad holes.  They key is the fast bounce back, and a big part of this is selective amnesia!

Phil Mickelson knows how to forget a bad shot.  In this clip, he’s at least 50 yards left of the green.  He has an unobstructed shot, but from a very tight lie, and has a big elevation change to contend with.  Also there’s some commotion and attention and other distractions.  But he executes and moves on with the round.  Have a look:

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