Avoidance is not a good strategy

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As you know, golf is incredibly challenging because there are so many different facets of the game. While most golfers don't have the time or resources to become an expert, that doesn't mean you can't be competent enough to see progress.

A common trap that golfers (including myself) fall into is avoidance. Sometimes part of the game is so daunting that you choose to avoid it at all costs. Recently I played with a golfer who reminded me how damaging this strategy could be, and I'm here to give you all some advice on how to get through these hurdles.

Exhibit A

A few weeks ago I played with a golfer who was quite adept. He had a 4 handicap and I was especially impressed with his driving skills. Although two decades away from playing Division 1 tennis, it was clear that his athletic skill allowed him to ride relatively straight at 275+ yards.

But I noticed shorter par 4s that he kept hitting irons. Since my thinking about that strategy has changed, I asked him why he kept the driver in the bag when it was clearly his best club (whatever he believed). He told me that he was terrified of 30-70 yard wedge wounds and tries to avoid them at all costs. I also asked if he practiced from those distances for some time, and he told me it rarely happens.

That fear was fully expressed when he drew from about 60 meters on the next par 5, which I had not seen on any course other than Phil & # 39; s "stunt" during the final round of The Memorial.

"I saw that in my head playing differently." 😂 – Phil Mickelson after putting 78 yards outpic.twitter.com/okBuTfzuhC"19459005]

– GOLFonCBS (@GOLFonCBS) July 19, 2020

In my head I knew that this golfer was fully capable of hitting those wedge shots with his physical talents. And to be honest, I knew how he felt.

My avoidance

I have been playing golf for over 25 years now. I have addressed almost all the fears and problems that you all have. The only part of my game that I've ever had constant confidence in is my iron game. I have no idea why that is, but that just seems to be my wave DNA.

Over the years I have played the avoidance game myself quite a bit. I was also terrified of those clumsy wedge distances. I also spent many seasons trying to avoid my driver as much as possible and knock other clubs off the starting blocks because I thought they would give me a sense of safety. After all, I've spent most of my time as a golfer and never worked on my pit that much.

The result was frustration, mismanaged expectations and a level of play that I was generally not happy with.

But I have learned a few things about how to solve these avoidance problems in my own game and also by looking closely at other golfers.

A three-pronged approach

Golf will eventually expose all parts of your game. If you want to become a better player, sweeping problems under the carpet just don't work. That's not to say you have to spend countless hours sharpening every part of your game.

So if you find yourself in this situation where one (or more) parts of your game are becoming a major mental hurdle, I have three recommendations.

Take up the challenge and change your identity

Many golfers reserve for an inevitable fate. For a long time I said to myself, and to anyone who would listen that I was not a good putter, or that I could not control the ball well. Every time I stepped on the course, this identity hung over my head. When I was faced with a 60-meter wedge throw or difficult drifting hole, I felt the fear increase as I approached my ball.

I think the best way to solve this problem is to try to run the script. If you want to get better, you have to embrace these shortcomings in your game and have a positive attitude that you are going to try to work on it. Negativity becomes an annoying, self-fulfilling prophecy on the golf course.

While it will take some work (I'll get back to that), your goal is to change your identity. You want from the player who thinks he's a terrible betting player to the golfer who can handle these strokes with a healthy disposition. Of course you will never be perfect, but you can get better and better in these parts of the game where they are not the big gaping hole.

As always, I would like to remind you that this process is related to each golfer, their experience in the game and skill level. For some of you, tackling some of these issues can help you break 100, and for others, it might be the last piece of the puzzle to become a scratch golfer.

Find the core problem

This is perhaps the most challenging part because you are dealing with a mix of mental and physical problems.

My advice to the golfer who inspired this article was to seek professional help. I knew he was perfectly capable of hitting those wedge shots, but needed some swing coach direction on what his major technical issues were.

I really believe that golf lessons can help with this process and increase your confidence on the course.

However, I know that many of you may not have the budget for classes or, if you are like me, sometimes prefer to experiment a bit yourself.

For example, reading Dave Pelz's Short Game Bible

more than a decade ago helped solve my problems playing wedges. I took his frame and applied it to my practice sessions until I felt comfortable. I also created this wedge practice routine. Granted, I'm not a tour-level wedge player, but the fear is gone now. Which brings me to my next point …


If you want to correct a deficiency in your golf game, changing your attitude is not enough. At some point you will have to choose a different approach and do some work during your practice sessions. Getting lessons may be my first recommendation to make sure you're doing the right kind of work.

It is impossible to predict how long it can take to transition from a state of complete avoidance to mild or even supreme self-confidence. But if you don't tackle the problem at all, it will continue to torment you on the course.

Currently bunker play is a problem for me. Tendencies in my swing that work for me in my iron game seem to thwart me when I'm in the sand. As such, I have to spend about 30-60 minutes in a bunker all season to restore the technique needed to get the ball on the well surface and avoid heavy or bladed bunker shots that seem to be created when I play in tournaments under more pressure. The longer I go between bunker practice sessions, the further and further my confidence appears to be diminishing.

Wrapping It Up

I know you all have a part of your golf game that gives you above average anxiety. There are days when we play that we feel like our whole game is the problem, but I want you to think about a particular problem that you may have completely avoided. Unfortunately, they don't go away on their own.

To summarize my recommendation:

Embrace : You must make a fundamental decision that you will no longer avoid the problem. Instead of letting it define your game, take a completely different approach and try to change your identity. When you get on the track, you want to think to yourself, "I can play ____ shots without complete fear anymore."
Find: Whether it's with the help of a trained professional (not that random guy in the range), or through your self-experimentation, you need to figure out the main problem that is holding you back from kind of success. Also, don't be too hard on yourself what "success" even means. For example, if you can land your ball on the green from 50 meters more than 50% of the time, this can be a huge win.
Work: Be prepared to practice and work on your problem. That doesn't mean you should spend 10 hours a week until your hands start bleeding. It can be as small as a 15-minute practice session. The most important thing is that you do the right kind of work .

Hopefully I have given you a new direction for solving the part of your golf game that you want to lock in a mental box. If you have any stories of your own overcoming a problem like this, please share them in the comments section!

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