By Paul Myers
Your own personal definition of ‘going low’ will depend on what you shoot for an average 18-hole round of golf. If you usually shoot in the 90’s, going low might be something in the mid-80’s. If you are a professional on the PGA Tour, going low is going to count as shooting a score in the low-60’s. For instance, Tour rookie Smylie Kaufman shot an incredible 61 this past weekend at the Shriners Hospitals for Children Open in Las Vegas to win by a shot, which certainly qualifies as going low by anyone’s definition.
So how to do you manage to achieve one of these memorable rounds? The first step is having the right mindset for the job. Sure, you will need to execute your swing properly throughout the round, and you will certainly have to make some great putts along the way. However, in order for any of those things to take place, you first have to go into the round with your mind in a good place.
If there are limits in your mind about what kind of score you are capable of shooting, that mental block will manifest itself out on the course. Many new golfers don’t believe their mind holds that much power over how they play, but experienced golfers know better. For instance, imagine that you are a golfer who has never broken 80 during a normal 18-hole round. You have shot in the low-80’s many times, but have never carded that magical 79. At some point, you start to place a mental limit on what you are capable of on the course. Even though you have the physical ability to shoot 79, your mind simply won’t believe it.
How does this kind of thinking hold you back? As you near the end of a round where you are playing well, your mind will start to look for ways in which you could waste shots to wind up in your usual scoring zone. So, if you are only three over par with four holes left to play, your mind will start to wander with regard to how you could waste five shots in order to end up at 80 instead of somewhere in the 70’s. In many ways, it is self-sabotage, and it is very real. In order to get over this hurdle, you need to have complete belief in yourself and take all mental limits off of what you can accomplish in this game.
Practicing Your Putting
On the mental side, going low has to do with not limiting yourself before you start a given round. Physically, however, it is all about putting. If you want to go low, you have to make putts – there is no other way to put it. You can hit great shots all day long, but they aren’t going to amount to anything if you can’t roll the ball into the back of the hole on a consistent basis.
Spend time prior to each round – and in between rounds – working on your short and medium-range putting stroke. You aren’t going to make every putt you look at, and you aren’t going to putt great every day, but investing practice time is the only way to consistently improve over the long run. The combination of confidence and a great putting stroke can unlock all sorts of scoring possibilities on the course.