How to stay sharp when facing a long delay

Kevin Na
USA Today Images
Kevin Na had a two-hour wait Sunday before finding himself in a playoff at the Memorial.
By Mark Aumann

Problem Area: Fundamentals
Series: Lesson Learned

Published: Tuesday, June 03, 2014 | 7:41 a.m.

On Sunday at the Memorial, Kevin Na shot the best round of the day -- an 8-under 64. But after sitting and waiting for nearly two hours to find out that he had earned a spot in a playoff, Na hit his first ball into the water.

MEMORIAL TOURNAMENT: Kevin Na loses playoff to Hideki Matsuyama

Even though he eventally went out and hit some balls on the range, whatever sharpness Na had earlier had completely disappeared by the time he teed up his ball for the playoff.

Amateurs sometimes find themselves in similar situations on the course. Perhaps there's a delay for inclement weather or lightning. It seems like every course has at least one hole where foursomes find themselves backed up on the tee. Or it could even be just a busy day and the pace of play slows dramatically.

So what can you learn about staying sharp and focused when facing long delays on the course?

Gary Fredenburg, a PGA teaching professional at The Orchard Golf and Country Club in Clarkesville, Ga., watched the tournament on television, and said Na didn't appear to approach the playoff with the same intensity that he had shown earlier in the day.

MORE GOLF TIPS: Avoid overswinging the club

"In Kevin Na's deal, he was waiting two hours," Fredenburg said. "And he was pretty much packed up and heading out before Jack Nicklaus told him he might want to stick around. So he went out and started hitting balls and putting, and this and that. But perhaps his mind was thinking about what was happening on the course instead of his own preparation."
So if you're facing a long wait -- whether that's sitting around the clubhouse or just following the group in front of you -- what can you do to not only pass the time, but keep yourself physically and mentally focused? Fredenburg suggests trying to keep limber, rather than sitting down and relaxing somewhere.
"First, try to stay loose and then get yourself back in your routine," Fredenburg said. "If it's a delay that forces you off the course, try to go back out and hit a few balls. If you can, eat something, and drink fluids."
Another thing: Don't let a delay make you frustrated or impatient. You're still out playing golf, so enjoy the moment.
"Find your 'happy' and stay in that mode," Fredenburg said. "You've got to stay positive. No negative thoughts. It's 'one shot, one hole at a time.' And you don't get ahead of yourself."
Ben Hogan is often quoted as having said, "The most important shot in golf is the next one." And that's great advice for amateur golfers, Fredenburg said, because when there's a slowdown, they have a tendency to start either thinking about what they might have done differently on previous shots -- or even worse, begin to play out the rest of their round in their minds.
"That's well-said, perfect," Fredenburg said. "Golf is a mind game. Focus on the next shot, but never look past that." 







Try this ...