As I type this I am watching Martin Laird come apart in the Accenture Match Play Championship in his match against Lee Westwood. After some well played holes early on, Laird began to hit it sideways and has played very spotty and let Westwood take a 3 up lead to this point. Laird’s struggles began with a few wayward irons shots, but soon stretched into his short game, as he has also missed some very makeable putts. It got me thinking about the phenomenon I call the “runaway round.”
Anyone who has played golf knows what I am referring to here. It starts with one bad shot, then there are a couple more, and pretty soon you have lost all confidence in any part of your game. Nothing goes right, and “Murphy’s Law” begins to apply to you in everything you do (by the way, “Murphy’s Law” is if something bad can happen, it will). No matter what you do you can’t shake this “golf virus” and the day gets longer and you wish the round would end. What can you do?
Golf is all about confidence, and when it leaves you it REALLY leaves you. But you can fight back against the “runaway round” by getting ahold of yourself and focusing on a couple of ideas. First – forget pretty. At this point you need to survive to make a score or win your match, so you don’t get points for looking good. Find the “ugly, but effective” way to get the ball in the fairway or in the hole and do it. That means if you have to hit a hybrid off of the tee on a driver hole just to get it in play – do it! It’s about battling at this point.
The next thing is to focus on the next shot, and not think (or fear) the one after that. Give THIS SHOT your absolute attention, and do what it takes to make the ball go where you need it to go. In my opinion it is the wrong move to try and get technical and fix your swing in this moment; that just makes you more tense and adds to the trouble. Feel a swing that will get it moving to your target and above all else – LET IT GO. One of the characteristics of a “runaway round” is for a player to hold on to their shots for fear of letting go and hitting a bad shot, which is the opposite of what you should do. No matter what, swing freely and trust yourself, and you just my put an end to the misery that is the “runaway round.”