If you're having trouble shooting the numbers you want, don't automatically look to your swing as the problem. The ability to score goes beyond TrackMan numbers and has little to do with swing technique or lines drawn on a video screen. While those things are important, the X factor you need to lower your scores can usually be found within. Scoring when it counts is about attitude and belief. When I work with my players, we focus on four thoughts to give them the right amount of conviction and positive belief to bring them success. Here they are:
1. "IT'S NOT HOW MANY TIMES YOU GET KNOCKED DOWN THAT COUNTS, IT'S HOW MANY TIMES YOU GET UP."
That sentiment comes from George A. Custer. Golf, like life, will test you. It's guaranteed. In fact, it's one reason why so many people love the game. To play good golf, you need to accept adversity. No matter how badly you hit a shot, you have to pick yourself up and play the next shot with full focus. Remember, you don't need to follow a bad shot with a great shot; just enjoy the challenge that a poor swing provides and hit a decent shot. After all, one bad swing or bad hole doesn't have to be your Little Bighorn. Follow those tops and chunks with decent swings and you'll start to regain your confidence, which will lead to better scores.
2. "THE BODY WILL CONCEIVE WHAT THE MIND PERCEIVES."
I first learned this lesson from legendary teacher Bob Toski. The mind is the genesis for everything in golf, so there is nothing more important than staying positive. Unfortunately, amateurs too often worry about what they don't want to do. If you think, "Don't hit it in the water left," all your mind will see is an image of the ball making a splash. Instead, visualize the shot you want to hit. It's okay to recognize the trouble, but have a positive plan to avoid it.
3. "YOU MUST TRY HARD TO NOT TRY HARD."
People tend to think that trying hard is a virtue, but it's not. Trying properly is a virtue. Your style of play and your level of effort need to match your personality. For Lee Trevino to play his best, he needed to talk, while Jack Nicklaus preferred to put the blinders on and say little. Learn what works for you! If you play a great round with your buddies one weekend, that same attitude and effort level will work for your club championship, too. Don't make tournaments too important and, as a result, something you feel you have to try harder at.
4. "THE ONLY REAL DISABILITY IN LIFE IS A BAD ATTITUDE."
For me, this is the most important phrase of all. A bad swing with a great attitude can compete, but a great swing with a bad attitude will never reach its potential. I spent time with David Feherty and the Wounded Warriors Foundation, and judging by their wonderful attitudes, you would never know the challenges these men faced. Not only do they refuse to play the victim, they love the challenge of living life to its fullest, regardless of their circumstances. In golf, if you feel victimized and have a bad attitude, you don't deserve to play well. And because the body conceives what the mind perceives, you won't.
So if you're not shooting the scores you think you deserve, take note of how well you deal with adversity and work on your positivity. To play your best golf, you need to allow your physical talent to be unleashed through your outlook and attitude.