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Old 10-03-2017, 05:54 PM   #1
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Join Date: Jun 2004
Location: Vegas
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So I think I've finally figured out what's holding me back from being a truly good golfer.

My HCI is 6.7 and I play well on occasion...75 is my personal best, and I break 80 every 7 or 8 rounds or so. I'm getting better at putting the ball into play consistently off the tee. My chipping is getting pretty damn good and my putting is not bad.

The other day, I played in a two-day tournament and shot 83-80. Not bad, but not great, either.

I'm missing too many birdie putts because I get nervous over them more so than other putts. I'll sink 5 straight par puts between 3 feet and 10 feet with no problem, but make it a birdie putt of the same length and it's a different story.

Off the tee, when I miss, it's usually more mechanical than anything else, and I can correct it.

My approach shots are hit or miss, though, and I've figured out why.


I don't have confidence that I will hit the shot well.

The other day on two short par 5s, I played the holes about as well as I could ever expect:

Angel Park Palms in Las Vegas

The first one was the ~478 yard 6th hole, a tricky one with two different fairways you could choose from - on the right was a straight 250 yd. carry over a canyon that, if you made, would deposit you around 165 yards from the pin.

Between the two fairways is desert/canyon.

The safer path was to the left - and that's what I chose - a 3 wood (or else I ran the risk of running through the fairway.)

I hit a good drive, right where it needed to be. Now, I could go to the right and lay up, or, I could fly over another canyon, over trees and a sand trap to the green - about 220 yards away.

The distance wasn't the problem - my 4 hybrid is perfect for that. It's just that there was all this trouble - and the pin was cut back left...if you missed the green on that side, you ball was most likely gone. If I topped it or didn't catch it all, the ball was gone.

But I went for it.

Why? Well, I had opened the round with 5 straight pars and I was hitting the ball very well. I felt confident. Not nervous. I knew I had this shot in my bag and hit it pure, launching it over the canyon, straight over the big tree that guarded the green, just over the sand trap, and the ball landed softly on the green about 18 feet from the hole.

Nice, right?

Well, normally, I would not have gone for it because I don't have much confidence in that club - I tend to pull it - and on this shot to that green, pulling it would've been a disaster.

But for some reason, I knew I could do it. It was an insane shot (for me), but I pulled it off.


I two-putted for birdie, by the way. Woo hoo!

What happened after? I got tight when I realized I was one-under for the first six holes and bogeyed the next three holes to finish 2 over par for the front nine.

But I parred No. 10, which was a tough, uphill, 408 yd. par 4 when the other three in my group struggled.

Confidence restored.

Next hole, another short, uphill, 487 yd. par 5 that dog-legs to the left. If you have the distance, you can cut the corner, leaving you with an iron to an elevated, uphill green.

I smoked my drive right over the corner and I was left with 187 yards. A 6 iron for me.

Now, my confidence in that club is about 50/50...but because I was confident that day and playing well, I hit a beautiful shot, pin high, about 12 feet away from the pin.

Great, right?

Well, I got nervous because I did not want to run the eagle putt too far past the hole or something - I wanted an easy birdie putt. And that's what I did. got the birdie.

But what I should've been thinking of was 'make this ****ing putt for eagle." not, "don't blow this birdie."


My game fell apart after that par 5, and I found myself at the 16th hole with an easy 8 iron up hill, with no real trouble anywhere...but by then, I was pressing, trying to win the tournament, and I duck-hooked that 8-iron right out of bounds. Double bogey.

Seriously, think about that for a second - on the first par 5, I hit probably the most beautiful shot of my life. A shot that was scary as hell - but I pulled it off. Now on the 16th, I didn't have the confidence to hit an 8 iron.

Next hole was a 200 yard par 3 to an elevated green with trouble on all sides, and I stuck a 5 iron right in the middle of the green, leaving me 20 feet from the hole. Why? Because all the tension left my body after the double on the previous hole and I was in "**** it" mode.


Anyway, my whole point is that I think we often play ourselves out of a round by hoping we hit a good shot instead of assuming or knowing we are going to hit a good shot.

Next round, I'm going to try and consciously be confident in my shots. I know, easier said than done, but I think I can do it.

Because in most of my rounds, when I hit a good shot I'm pleasantly surprised. Like, "wow, look what I did." I'm more expecting disaster and hope it doesn't happen than expecting a great shot.

What about you guys? How confident are you over a shot? And does that confidence change if it's a birdie opportunity? If you're 15 holes into your round and you have a shot at a personal best?
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Old 10-03-2017, 06:19 PM   #2
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Re: Confidence

I know the #1 killer in my rounds and not going lower than I should is that I try to baby my birdie putts in tournaments so I can have a tap in par. I am scared of 3-putting and mentally think par is "good enough". AS in every round though I make bogeys and 1-2 "others" that blow my score up.

When I am playing on my courses at home for tournaments I have a better feel and don't baby them as much. When I am on the road, forget about it. My 5 straight birdie putts from 8-15 feet at TPC a few weeks ago and not even touching the hole says everything. Tap in pars all!
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Old 10-04-2017, 12:09 AM   #3
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Re: Confidence

Originally Posted by Dominic View Post
What about you guys? How confident are you over a shot? And does that confidence change if it's a birdie opportunity? If you're 15 holes into your round and you have a shot at a personal best?
Sounds like you are thinking about your score too much. Focus on your preparation/routine for each shot and "try" to take the result out. This is especially important in putting. Do your analyzing after the round. That's what pro's do to alleviate nerves in their games. It's really all you can do. Confidence breeds itself but you already know that.

My best score at the course I learned on had been +1 which I had shot 7 times over an 16 month period. Included in that was being on the 16th tee -3 four times! When I finally broke through I shot -3, the next round -2, next round -1, next round another -2. Keeping banging on the door and focus on the next shot. Confidence will come. (when it's damn good and ready however)
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Old 10-04-2017, 07:33 AM   #4
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Re: Confidence

Toward the end I thought you were talking about the leafs

For me if I hit irons good I get happy and confident, and only rarely start to "worry" about the score. Feels so easy and fun those times. But the difference is so big, hitting my b/c -game with irons feels so frustrating, and it is that pretty often. On putts I do start to play it safe if score is getting good, afraid of the 3-putt.

I do think confidence is a big factor, but still find it over-commented on at least. Buddies soooo often after a bad shot "shoulda come off the ball, didnt feel right" and after a good one "knew I was gonna make that!". Guess it´s not that entertaining to exclaim after a great or brutal shot "Heyy, I really felt extremely mediocre about that go!"
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Old 10-04-2017, 09:24 PM   #5
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Re: Confidence

i'm not confident enough to hit my driver on the angel park mountain course. does that help answer anything?
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Old 10-05-2017, 07:06 AM   #6
Join Date: Mar 2016
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Re: Confidence

What's the difference between confidence and playing smart?
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Old 10-05-2017, 12:52 PM   #7
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Re: Confidence

Originally Posted by RunninCM View Post
What's the difference between confidence and playing smart?
Playing smart is knowing that if I miss a shot, I'm missing it in the right spot. Confidence is assuming you're not going to miss the shot.
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Old 10-05-2017, 04:46 PM   #8
Join Date: Dec 2015
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Re: Confidence

There have been a multiple posters on this forum that have said reading Tommy Angelo's Elements of Poker made them better golfers. A lot of it is commitment to the process and accepting that there's gonna be bad results now and then, and not letting those results get to us. To me, confidence means not fearing failure.
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Old 10-11-2017, 11:08 PM   #9
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Re: Confidence

The last post is really solid. I haven't read the poker book, but golf is all about making the "best" play at the time in the given situation.

It sounds like the confidence that you are talking about isn't just a blind belief that you're going to do something well, but maybe rather it's the idea of commitment to the shot that you're trying to hit. It's not necessarily about whether you hit the shot correctly or not, but if you don't commit 100% and have a real idea of what you're trying to do, you're very unlikely to actually hit the shot you want to hit.

Next time you're playing, when you're putting or chipping, don't pull the trigger until you KNOW exactly what you're trying to do. If it takes a little longer to get to that point of commitment, then so be it. If you're about to hit a putt and you're not really sure, then just back up and regroup. Who cares if this is annoying to your friends or the group behind you. Next time they pay for your round of golf, you can worry about what they think. When you put that level of focus into the shot, the idea of what the score is will fall away a little and you'll be focused on the task instead of a number.
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Old 10-13-2017, 08:10 PM   #10
Join Date: May 2012
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Re: Confidence

"inner game of tennis" is wildly popular outside tennis circles....... pete carroll loves it.

the two things i remember from the book are:

1) "relaxed aggression", "relaxed concentration"... that sort of thought.

2) "be the ball".... what does the ball want?... not as applicable necessarily to what you asked.

"winning ugly" by brad gilbert would probably help too...... tennis book but it's really almost all about game management and strategy. so course management and mental in golf........... this one isn't quite what you asked about.
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Old 10-14-2017, 10:15 PM   #11
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Re: Confidence

This is why absolutely cracking out to practicing 5 ft and under putts seems so vital. That might seem obvious, and it is, but the less obvious part of it is that having confidence with the 5 footers is what helps the best putters drain more 15-20+ footers than the rest of us, their thinking is along the lines of w/e if i miss I'm making 95% of my 4 or 5 footers anyway. Speith has said basically that he tries to hit it a few ft passed the hole on every putt (besides super short ones i suppose).

That said, practicing short putts for hours is boring and hurts my back .
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