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Free Up Your Mind, Play Better Golf

By Brendon Elliott, PGA
Published on

Xander Schauffele and Patrick Cantlay at TPC Louisiana.Getty Images

Have you ever noticed this? While on the course, you drop a second ball, perhaps out of frustration, or maybe simply because you want to try to “figure something out” and you stripe it? A shot that comes off the club like a thing of beauty. Sometimes we call this phenomenon “our second guy/girl.”
When we watch teams events like the Ryder Cup, or Presidents Cup, or even like this week at the Zurich Classic, and we see absolutely amazing shots and scoring…why is that?
I contend that the answer to both scenarios, whether it’s you dropping a second ball or professionals playing extraordinary in team events, comes down to one simple thing: Freedom. In both scenarios, the mind is more freed up.
When dropping a second ball and we let that seemingly best version of ourselves play, our expectations are lowered and our mind is free. We are working off of instinct rather than trying to control everything. We get out of our own way.
In team golf a lot of the same things happen. The way we think and approach playing is a little bit different... a little more freed up. This allows us to be a bit better version of our golfing selves.
Many times after competitive rounds students of mine ask me why they didn’t play like they know they can. Like they have the ability to play. Like they do in practice rounds. This is a very common self reflective question that many golfers ask themselves after playing in competition.
Having the ability to do something, even if you have done it countless times in the past, doesn’t mean that you will automatically be able to do it when you are tested. Having the ability to do something simply means that you can do it. Hit that big tee ball. Make that putt. Get up and down from a tough lie. Blast out of the bunker to a few feet from the pin. Doing these things when it counts requires much more than the ability to simply do it. It requires you being freed up mentally, to allow yourself to perform when your round truly means something.
I’d like to suggest that you harness the power of “your second guy/girl.” In what is a very singular game, we all have different versions of ourselves. The player that has the ability to perform at a level we know we can, or the player that caves to lofty expectations that we often set for ourselves. We need to simply get out of our own way.
This weekend at TPC Louisiana, much like in other team competitions, we are able to see golfers that are already at the top of the mountain, perform at even more incredible levels. This is the power of being freed up on display.
Get freed up. Get out of your own way. Let that “second guy/girl” that is inside of you take the lead a little more often.
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