Avoid Choking Under Pressure

Knowing that you CAN choke when you are under pressure is half the battle. When you know that you are in a critical situation, expect the “choke” and beat it. Use your past experience to seize the moment and take charge of your mind to win this game against yourself. It will also impact the rest of your game.

I realized the importance of avoiding the choke, when I was in a life and death situation on the golf course recently. I had a 150 yard shot to the green but my ball was about 6 feet behind the base of a very large tree. I could see that a perfectly straight shot to the green would miss the left side of the trunk by about 6 inches. I knew that my worst miss would be to tighten up, shorten my swing arc and toe the shot into the tree (which could bounce anywhere including into my head). I COULD NOT CHOKE.

My preferred shot is a draw but that would definitely hit the tree. Recognizing that I could not afford to choke, I setup for a fade and hit the perfect 6 iron. I cleared the trunk and landed on the green. The critical issue here was that I knew that I had to stay loose and make the shot exactly as I knew how to make the shot without that tree getting in the way.

On the final hole of The OPEN in 1999, Jean Van de Velde choked on many shots and lost his lead and the tournament. Choose the shots that you know how to make.

Improve Your Odds of Winning
The best way to avoid choking is to put yourself under pressure conditions to prove to yourself that you can make the right shot. You need to be under the gun a lot so that you get use to the pressure putt or chip or approach shot (over a sand trap or over water).

1/ Challenge yourself to play putting games or chipping games against yourself. Focus on sinking more putts or chipping within 5 feet of a spot or the pin.

2/ At the range, don’t just hit balls with different clubs. Always pick a target flag and a shot shape. Hit a draw and land near the target. Hit high shots, low shots and use different clubs to make the same shot.

3/ When you play golf with your friends you need a little pressure. Play for few bucks on the front 9, back 9 and overall. Or play a game that we call “Greenies” on all of the par 3’s (you can play it without a handicap). Your drive has to stay on the green and the player with the closest to the hole has to par to win a buck from each of the other players (double for a birdie or if you miss your par you have to pay a buck to anyone else who landed on the green).

Realize that a choke shot happens when we think too much and lose our rhythm or cadence. I notice this most when golfers rush their chip because they are not using the weight of their club head with a normal swing arc. By shortening our backswing we end up rushing our downswing and hitting a fat shot. The same problem happens when we stub a putt. Don’t change your swing cadence.   Make a full swing to a balanced finish for every shot.

Always compete against your friends with small competitions so that you will be ready for your important pressure shots. Learn to focus on every shot when you practice with your GOLFSTR+. Buy one today at www.golfstr.com.