What Lake?

I just love coming up to a new hole and standing on the tee box. I just take a moment and look at the hole and try to think about what the designer had in mind when he/she made it. When you look down the fairway towards the pin my mind begins to come up with a strategy that gets me the from tee box to the green. Sometimes it’s a clear shot right down the middle. . sometimes it doglegs left or right. . . there could be a low hanging tree on my approach shot .. . a creek after my second shot, I might have to clear 120 yards of marsh before getting to the fairway, bunkers, lakes, you name it.

Most people don’t really take the time to look at the hole’s layout. They just get up there and whack it down the fairway. But did you know that course designers set up the holes with a map for golfers? And, if you follow that map, then you will have the best chance of getting to the hole without trouble?

There can be trees or light poles in the distance that just happen to be the exact line you need to take on your tee shot. That creek that’s just 150 yards from the tee box is there to remind you that you will either have to go for it and carry the ball about 170 yards or lay up and play it safe.

Once you VISUALIZE (there’s that word again) how you want to play the hole then you can map out your shots. In a perfect world, you’d follow that map and make par or even better on each hole. Now of course if it were that easy there would be more of us on the tour. What happens that gets us off our map?

For me, as I’m in my early 50s, my body gets in the way. I’m not as flexible as I once was, I can get fatigued, I can’t get my brain and body to always work together, excuses, excuses, excuses. So, the original map I made is sometimes no longer good. I didn’t want to be in a bunker on the left side of the fairway with a lake in front of me to the hole. . .I wanted to be on the right side and hit into the green with a nice clear shot. My map at that point is no good. I need a new one.

If we use this particular shot, which I have seen on #9 at Homestead , I have a big decision to make. I’m about 120 yards from the hole with a lake between me and the green. Do I blast out of the sand onto the green? Or do I take a safer shot and hit to the right side of the fairway and hit to the green as originally planned?

Me being me, I opt for blasting out. No guts no glory as my dad always says. So, after some good practice swings, into the sand I go. Now here’s where the real mental gymnastics need to occur. The self talk starts. “I have more than enough club. If I put a good swing on the ball I will be just fine. Pretend you are at the range hitting and just focus on good contact. Stay over the ball and follow through.”

Notice how I didn’t say, “You need to hit this or else it’s going in the lake. Don’t chunk it. Do I have the right club? All of those people on the patio on the green are watching. I can’t choke.” I chose messages that reminded me that I can make the shot. To stay focused on the goal. To TRUST that I have a swing that will get that ball over the lake and onto the green.

When we VISUALIZE what we want and not let anything interfere with this vision, we are more apt to reach the goal. I didn’t think the hole was done and that I didn’t have a chance for par. I reminded myself that there’s many ways to get par and this way is just as good as any.

When you VISUALIZE, start to construct a map. How will you get there? What obstacles will be in your way? Which route gets you there quicker or more effectively? What will you need along this journey? What’s the “prize” for getting there?

If we took a more practical application and used this concept of VISUALIZATION in your relationships, is there something you are wanting? To have better communication? To do more things outside the home? To get more cooperation or help from your loved one? Do you need more friends?

What would that look like if you achieved that goal? What’s in the way of getting there? Do you need a new skill? Do you need bravery to ask more tough questions? Do you need more ideas?

Suppose you get started and there’s some resistance? Or a setback? Do you quit or change the map? Maybe you don’t have everything you need to get to your goal. Would you know how to find it? Who to ask?

These are the types of conversations I have in my office with clients everyday. I help people identify their goals, visualize them, figure out what they need and then we create a map from where we are today to the future point when that goal is achieved. The thrill of victory is way better than the agony of defeat. Start today by visualizing something you’d like to have happen or change in your life. We’ll talk next time about getting started and what to do about obstacles and roadblocks that can sometimes interrupt this process and how to work through them and not quit.

Until next time .. .go work on your game!