Get nervous while playing.

Jason Lowe (16) of Fredonia, Kansas, US writes…
I am going to play in a PGA Junior Series in July and I get really nervous when I play against people. Can you give me some advise on this problem?

Scott Robbins:
Concentrate on your own game and on a set routine you use to hit every shot. A little nervousness is good. It means you are up to the challenge and are ready to play. I would worry more if you weren’t nervous. Junior Golf Tips

Problem staying focused during round.

Justin Beckman (16) of Garnett, KS writes…
I have a problem staying focused during a round. I will always start out my round with pars, but a soon as I make a birdie I lose my concentration and screw up the next hole. Do you have any suggestions on how to keep my concentration after having a good hole?

Scott Robbins:
Forget the past, don’t worry about the future, you can only be in control of the present. In other words, create a pre shot routine that you use to make birdies and continue to do the same thing over every single shot for the round. Do not worry or get caught up in the outcomes, concentrate on the process. Junior Golf Tips

Want to learn more about golf strategy and mental game.

Brenda in Atlanta, GA asks…
I want to learn more about golf strategy and the mental side of golf. Are there any books or websites that you recommend?

Scott Robbins:
What a great question!!!! It is encouraging to hear that you understand that there is so much more to Golf than the swing and chipping and putting. There are a lot of books and tapes on the mental side of the game. Most deal with preparing your mind to play and how to mentally treat the game as you play.
Some of the great sports psychologists that have books and or tapes out are: Dr. Richard Coop, Dr. Bob Rotella and my favorite, Dr. David Cook. All these authors can give you some great perspective on playing the game and its place in your life.
Currently, I cannot recall any books on playing strategy per se. I will research that a little farther for you. One book that comes to mind is Golf My Way by Jack Nicklaus. Not only does it talk about swing technique but it does have some playing thoughts as well.
Good Luck with your golf game. Hit far and straight, hit fairways and greens, avoid hazards and make some putts! Junior Golf Tips

Why can’t I ever put together a consistent round of golf?

Jay Altringer of North Dakota writes…
I am a pretty good golfer. I shoot a couple over par each round but I should be even lower. I will be cruising to a best ever round and then I will make a stupid mistake on an easy hole which usually results in a bogey. These mistakes kill my chances at improving my handicap. Why can’t I ever put together a consistent round of golf?

Scott Robbins:
What a great question and what a great lesson you can learn for yourself from golf about your every day life. The reason we can be “cruising to a great round” and blow it on an easy hole has to do with your focus. You can and should have a game plan for every round of golf you play. Your game plan includes strategy, shots to play according to how your swing is working and preshot routines. Once your game plan and strategy (and/or goal) is established and written down, then you execute your game plan ONE SHOT AT A TIME.
The reason good rounds slip away is because we get distracted by the past (a poor executed shot or memory of a disaster in the same situation, etc.) or by the future (what will I shoot if I par in, this will be my best round ever, etc.). Stay focused on the here and now. Play only the hole in front of you, only the shot at hand. To paraphrase a great saying I have heard many times from my father, “when you have one foot in the past and one foot in the future, you don’t have a leg to stand on in the present.”
When things getting going good or bad, focus on the routine you use to hit your best shots. Observe yourself and find that physical or mental key you use to focus you on hitting a good shot. Find the best routine for you and use it.
There are a couple of authors (Sports psychologists) I suggest you obtain. One is Dr. Bob Rotella and my favorite, one of Dr. Rotella’s best student’s, Dr. David Cook. They will help with some great suggestions on staying in the here and now. Work harder at the mental game than you do at hitting practice balls. It sounds like you have that part down already. Good Luck. I’ll be watching for your name on the Junior circuits. Let me know how you are doing. Junior Golf Tips

Staying loose and focused during the round.

Justin Northcutt of Charlotte, NC writes…
I’m an 8 handicap at the TPC at Piper Glen. I really believe I could play to 2 by staying loose and focused during the round. Especially off the tee sometimes, I won’t get fully set at the top. Any suggestions?

Scott Robbins:
First, congratulations on some great playing for your age!! You can be very proud of that if you chose to. Also congratulations for the desire to make such a huge improvement from your current 8 handicap.
Staying focused is really difficult at any age. The best way is to first learn when you need to be focused and how to be sure you are when you need it.
First, when do you need to be focused. Only when you are getting ready to hit your shot. Any other time is adding to your stress and mental fatigue that naturally happen during a round of golf. It should take only about 20 seconds or less to execute any golf shot from start to finish.
When you practice, start working on and practicing your mental routine as well as your physical routine you use when you hit balls or play. The elements you need to have in a mental routine are:
1) a starting signal that will tell your mind it is time to hit a golf shot.
2) an intermediate target that you can focus on and feel confident in regards to alignment and starting your shots towards or over and
3) a cleansing breath that is a deep breath in through your nose and out through In addition to this routine, also learn how to visualize each shot you hit (SEE IT), make a practice swing or waggle to rehearse the shot in your muscles (FEEL IT) and be confident before or as you draw the club back (TRUST IT)
Get those two routines incorporated in your practice and shot making on the golf course and it will serve to give you a way to prepare to hit each golf shot the exact same way. Good luck. Let me know how your new mental approach helps your scores. Junior Golf Tips

I get nervous coming to the last 3 or 4 holes of the round.

Mark Tanner in Gaitherburg, MD writes…
I have a little trouble when I am shooting really well, and I am coming to the last 3 or 4 holes of the round I get nervous and try to play to conservative and end up shooting 3 or 4 strokes higher.

Scott Robbins:
What a fabulous question. It is what playing golf is all about. Golf is about dealing with each situation on the course individually yet knowing how your are trying to influence in the whole picture. How do you continue to play well and keep your scores from ballooning in the last few holes. The best way is to keep yourself in the present.
What has happened in the round earlier (the past) cannot be changed and what the final result (the future) of the round is unknown until it is played out. So the only thing you have is the present. Therefore, create a routine, both physically and mentally that you will use to hit every shot and do that. Use it to hit every shot.
What will happen is that instead of thinking about your score coming in to the last few holes, you will only be thinking about hitting the shot you need to hit at that moment on that tee or out of that fairway or rough or hazard or on the putt on the green you are preparing to play. You will be using the same things that got you to the last few holes in position to score well to execute and hit those same shots and finish your round the same way you started it and played it until those last few holes. You might find when you do that, you will become unaware of where you stand in relation to par and what score you are in the process of posting.
Another way to put this is like the math test you will take in school next week. You won’t know your score till you have solved every equation. You won’t concentrate on the final score until after you have gone through the process of completing every problem on the test. Therefore, in your golf as in your math test, if you concentrate on the process, the result will come and be what it is suppose to be.
Good luck. Keep enjoying this challenge we call golf. Junior Golf Tips

Sometimes I get stuck over a shot.

Riley Johnson (14) of Lyons, GA USA writes…
My game is pretty good, but sometimes I get stuck over a shot. I may take as many as 45 seconds to hit the shot. I am afraid that I hold up the group. My knees shake and my club is never still. I usually play with the men who are our club’s best players. I enjoy the competition and feel that this is the best way for me to learn to play. My average score is 79 from the back tees. Please try to help. Thanks!!

Scott Robbins:
You are doing a lot of things right to become a good player quick. Finding good players to play with and learning to compete with them is one of the best things you can do become a great player. Now to your concern.
Create a routine. Start on the practice tee. I assume you already have a routine of evaluating the shot at hand, selecting your club and preparing to hit the shot. It sounds like you are having a problem executing the shot. Therefore, develop a routine I call “See it, Feel it, Trust it” that I learned from Sport Psychologist Dr. David Cook At Kansas University. First part sounds like you are doing already. “See it” is seeing in your imagination and mind’s eye the shot you want to hit. Include in that the trajectory and the shape of the shot you want to hit and the target you want to hit. “Feel it” is while standing behind the golf ball and practice feeling the swing you need to hit the shot you need to hit by making full practice swings.
What works for me next is to take a deep breath, let it out and walk up to the golf ball. Look at the target on or two more times to focus on the shot and target, take on more deep breath, let it out and say “Trust it” as you take the club back. At that point you are trusting your swing and allowing all your practice to hit the shot at hand. No swing thoughts, no mechanics, just pure trust and you will be amazed about the quality of shots you will hit! Work hard on this routine on the practice tee before you work on it on the course. Work hard to perfect this part as hard as you work on your full swing and your putting. Once you get this part down, you will always be able to hit your shots with confidence. Junior Golf Tips

Do you know how to help me control my temper and help me focus better?

Will Watkins (15) Of Jackson MS writes…
Our pro said that if I could control my I would improve my game by a tremendous amount if I could improve my temper. Do you know how to help me control my temper and help me focus better?

Scott Robbins:
Having a child that is 15, I know that part of that temper is from being 15. However none of it does any good on the golf course. I know, I used to have a terrible temper on the course. Until I discovered and truly believed that what I got mad at were things I had no control over. And when I did let my temper run, I lost control of the only things I had control of – myself.
How then do I recommend you control your temper? First is honestly look at your ability and only try and execute shots that you know you can because you have learned them on the practice tee or during your on course practice when score wasn’t a factor. Second, learn how to visualize the shot you want to hit. See the ball fly in the exact trajectory shape and distance you want it to fly. Third, visualize and physically feel the swing that will produce that shot.
Take these first three steps and execute and practice them religiously on the practice tee. YOU WILL HIT SOME TERRIBLE SHOTS! What a great way to practice another anti temper routine. When those real bad shots happen, they happen. DO NOT REACT TO THEM. Just say “that’s interesting.” When you do that you are nullifying any memory your subconscious can obtain because your subconscious reacts to conscious actions, whether good or bad and remembers and reinforces the action. That is why when you hit a bad shot and get angry it is usually followed by another bad shot. (Had that happen before?) As you practice this routine on the practice tee, you will learn how your visualization and rehearsal will out your mind into position to hit some great shots without having to consciously think about the execution.
After you have learn to visualize and feel and have started to hit some good shots add the final part. Tell yourself to TRUST your ability, trust your swing. You see after you practice and continue to learn how to hit shots and see the fun and value in learning to hit all these different shots on the practice tee then you will know, your subconscious will know, that you can hit that shot you are looking at. So tell yourself to “trust it” right as you take the club back and swing away. What you have just done is decided on a shot, felt the swing it takes to make the shot and gotten yourself ready to execute at THE BEST OF YOUR ABILITY. If the best of your ability does not produce the exact shot just then, it is no big deal because you have done your very best. Your pro will be proud of you, your parents will be proud of you and most important you can choose to be proud of yourself for doing your very best. After working so hard on this on the practice tee, take it to the golf course in a practice round. Over each shot, SEE the ball flight and shape you want to hit, FEEL the swing you will need to hit that shot with a practice swing and right before you take the club away from the ball tell yourself “TRUST IT.”
The important thing to really remember though here is we are talking about a game. Games are to be fun. Some are more challenging than others, but they are still games and are still fun. Whatever happens in any golf shot you hit, it will never change the person you are. You will still have friends who love you, your parents will still cherish you and all those important interpersonal relationships will still be there whether you hit this golf shot well or not.
Go back to having fun. Try these drills. Control what you can control. How you react to your experiences on the golf course. As you grow older, you will be amazed how your actions and reactions on the golf course will reflect how you run your life. Start practicing now to learn to control only those things you can (your swing and your thoughts) and let everything else go.
I apologize for the long winded reply but I hope the ideas and the “how to” messages apply and work for you. I would like to hear how you are doing.