Carmel Magazine

Carmel Magazine, Summer/Fall 2018

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Page 113 of 315

TAKE YOUR BEST SHOT B Y D A N PA S Q U A R I E L L O A N D L A I R D S M A L L Overcoming Fear on the Golf Course n August, Pebble Beach Golf Links will host the 118th U.S. Amateur Championship for the fifth time, with Spyglass Hill Golf Course serving as the stroke-play co-host for the second time. Some of the best amateur golfers in the world will be competing for a chance to win this national championship, and as part of their preparation for the event, players will face many obstacles both on and off the course. This includes going up against some challenging holes and the need to over- come fear and anticipation that these challenges present. The best players are preparing both their mental and physical games. If you're playing Pebble Beach Golf Links for the first time, chances are good that you already know about the iconic tee shots on holes 7 and 18, the forced carry over the ocean on No. 8, and the downhill side-hill approach shot on No. 10 toward Carmel Bay. The anticipation of hitting these shots is as great as playing the course, because you've seen them countless times before in pictures and on television. We all have shots we fear, whether they are forced carries over water, long bunker shots, short bunker shots, or tee shots with out-of-bounds nearby. We fear them because we haven't had a great deal of success with them in the past, or we're afraid of the outcome. It's hard to not think about the ocean on No. 8, even if you can't see it, because you know it's there – just as you know it's lurking to the left of the tee on No. 18 and to the right of the green on No.10. How do you overcome this fear? It has as much to do with your atti- tude, preparation, and ability to stay calm and focused. We talk so much about the "mental game." What is it? How does it help players on the golf course and in life? One of the terms we hear is mental toughness. It simply means the ability to keep your focus when you're play- ing the game. One needs to stay focused, whether you're playing well, fac- ing a challenging shot or performing poorly. And it's probably more impor- tant and challenging to stay focused when you're not playing well – it's much easier to stay focused when things are going your way! The "Rules of Golf " doesn't mention anything about the mental game. I don't think the ball or the clubs know about the mental game, and I don't think they really care, either! All the ball knows is how it was struck. The emotional landscape can be a wonderful descriptor. We bounce from high-energy negative emotions, like extreme anger when a shot doesn't work out, to low-energy emotions when we are depressed or having a bad stretch of holes and feel like our round is slipping through our fingers. We also find ourselves at low-energy positive emotions where we are calm and nothing seems to bother us, to high-energy positive emo- tions when we hit a great opening drive or made a birdie to win the match or shoot our lowest score. These things all happen and can change from shot to shot. We really want to be neutral, where we choose to respond to the stimulus that golf and life throw at us! Players work on their pre-shot routines, which assist them in setting their minds right before they strike a golf shot. The role of the pre-shot routine is to give the player's conscious mind (the one that is always think- ing) some place comfortable to go where it isn't anxious about a shot or situation. This then allows the subconscious (automatic response) to hap- pen, and usually results in a great shot! It becomes challenging when the best amateurs face some of the most feared shots in golf. The following is our list of the 10 most-feared shots at Pebble Beach: 1. Second shot on No. 8: Know exactly how far it is to clear the hazard, and swing more club than is necessary. 2. Tee shot on No. 18: One of the world's greatest tee shots offers a useful lesson applicable to any hole with trouble running tight to the fairway – put away your driver. 3. Second shot on No. 6: Long, uphill, blind shots like this one require a different strategy than most approach shots. 4. Tee shot on No. 7: Easy? Not for the average golfer. Learn how to deal with multiple challenges on short par-3s, including between-club distances, tricky winds and distracting scenery. 5. Tee shot on No. 1: The first shot on a famous course is always a tough one mentally, especially in the U.S. Amateur! 6. Third shot on No. 18: The shot is short, but there are hazards everywhere. Determining the precise yardage is your first step to success. I 112 C A R M E L M A G A Z I N E • S U M M E R / F A L L 2 0 1 8

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