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Staying in the Moment is Everything

By Brendon Elliott, PGA
Published on

“I just wanted to hit one shot at a time…I know that sounds cliché, but we spoke about that early in the day.” This was a post final round comment from 2022 Sentry Tournament of Champions winner, Cameron Smith.
We hear this thought a lot in golf…One shot at a Time…Staying in the Moment…Staying Patient. There are countless quotes from the legends of the game that reference this idea:
“Do your best, one shot at a time and then move on. Remember that golf is just a game.” - Nancy Lopez
“The most important shot in golf is the next one.” - Ben Hogan
“What do I mean by concentration? I mean focusing totally on the business at hand and commanding your body to do exactly what you want it to do." - Arnold Palmer
It is well known that golf is considered a mental game…maybe more so than any other sport there is. I usually break down the game as a whole, as it relates to becoming a more efficient player, into four categories, Technique, Playing, Mental, and Emotional Control.
With reference to Cam Smith’s idea of playing one shot at a time, I see this falling mostly into the Emotional Control column…perhaps even a bit into the mental column, and maybe a dash from the playing column for good measure.
Playing one shot at a time, in my mind, includes the following points…
  • Fully trusting, once you are on the course, in your ability to execute the shots you choose.
  • Being fully prepared when you step up to hit each individual shot. This comes from gathering all necessary information such as your yardage to your intended landing point and the club needed to get there; trouble that may exist such as hazards or bunkers; wind direction and speed estimation; the balls lie and any other needed information to formulate your plan of attack.
  • Once your decision on the shot you wish to execute is made, go straight into your preshot routine.
  • Address the ball…trust…execute.
  • Accepting the results from each and every shot, as soon as the ball has left your clubface…good or bad.
Although a fictional movie, I love many aspects of The Legend of Bagger Vance and find all kinds of little nuggets in it that we can take to improve our own games. One of my favorites is to "see the field" as it really paints a very beautiful picture of playing the game in the moment, with trust and one shot at a time…
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