Golfers spend the majority of their practice time trying to develop their ball-striking skills. They buy new clubs and continuously work to improve their swing technique.
They believe that learning to hit the ball better will automatically produce lower scores. That, however, is not necessarily true. There is far more to golf than ball-striking.
Golf is a game that is PLAYED. Lowering your average score requires that you learn to become a better PLAYER. I feel becoming a better PLAYER begins with acquiring a clear understanding of what you can and cannot effectively control on the golf course.
First, let's consider a few things you cannot control on the golf course.
1. You cannot effectively control your swing motion because your body in moving faster than you can think. Attempting to consciously control your swing motion will only serve to move your swing off-balance.
2. You have no control over the ball after it leaves the club face. It's gone. It's impossible to determine exactly how the weather conditions and ground conditions will affect the ball's flight, bounce, and roll.
3. You cannot control how other players in your group are playing or what they're thinking.
4. You cannot change the results of any previous shot of the circumstances surrounding the current shot.
You need to fully accept that you have no control over these things. Furthermore, thinking or worrying about them will only serve to splinter your focus - take your focus away from what you can effectively control.
During the shot-making process, you can effectively control five things. I refer to them as the five CONTROLLABLES, or the five PLAYING SKILLS. They are the five things every golfer does on every shot...
SELECT A SHOT - On every shot you can carefully evaluate the circumstances, consider your options, and determine the highest percentage play.
SELECT A CLUB - On every shot you can consider your choices and select the club that allows for an appropriate margin of error.
FORM AN INTENTION - On every shot you can form and maintain the single-minded intention to create the exact shot you selected.
SETUP TO THE BALL - On every shot you can take the necessary time to setup to the ball in a manner that will allow you to most easily create the intended impact conditions.
SWING FOCUS - While maintaining your intention to strike the ball in a particular manner, you can learn to stay mentally present and allow your intention ALONE to guide your motion. On every play you can choose to ALLOW your swing to unfold without thought or effort.
As you develop your skills in these five areas, you'll evolve into a better PLAYER. As a result, you'll start scoring closer to your ball-striking potential.
I meet players all the time who hit the ball well enough to break 80, but can't break 90. And it's always because of poor playing skills. They focus and worry about things they have no control over, and they never become better at the five thing they can effectively control - the five CONTROLLABLES.