Stress Free Golf is a mindset based upon four principles of putting your mind in the positive. Stress Free Golf WILL help you shoot the best rounds of your life. My best golf is played when I can implement the Stress Free Golf principles. It takes practice implementing these principles and confidence in your ability to recover from an undesirable shot. A good line of advice is “it’s all in how you look at it” after hitting a golf shot.
How did I come up with the concept of Stress Free Golf? Over the course of the last 15 years, I’ve had flashes of brilliance on the golf course. During these times, I was able to put my mind in the positive with a quiet confident feeling.
Here’s some examples. In 2001, I was only playing golf once a week. We had a new family and I was working quite a bit and really did not have a competitive interest in playing golf. I entered the 2001 CSGA Public Links Championship in October. My goal for the week was to play two solid rounds of golf and see what happened. I had no expectations. I played a solid first round and was in the hunt, a couple of shots behind. Before the second round, I told my wife I was going to win and I felt it. My goal was to play the percentages and accept the outcome. Coming down the stretch, I was tied for the lead with two holes to play. I was playing Stress Free Golf and didn’t know it at the time. Fat side of the greens and reaching a goal on each shot was how I played. The last two holes this made a huge difference as I accepted the shots I made and dealt with it. I won the tournament by a shot hitting some solid golf shots down the stretch.
In 2003, I played a lot of golf. I figured out that if I could get my mindset like I did at the 2001 Championship, I could shoot under par rounds more often. And I quite often did. But this one day was especially good as my mind was clear and quietly confident. To this day I remember the feeling I had as I was making my way around the course. I played the percentages, set a goal for each shot and had control of the golf ball. At the last hole, I lipped out a birdie putt that would have put me at a score of 62. I shot 63, the low round of my career. I was in the Stress Free Golf zone and beginning to realize this concept.
In 2004, 2005 and 2012, I played full time pro tournament golf on various golf tours. I had sponsors plus I put up a bunch of my own cash. Getting into the Stress Free Golf zone was a serious issue. I played “not so good” golf, felt the heat and it showed in my scores. I was stressing my golf! It was not fun! Playing Stress Free Golf needs to be fun golf.
In 2006, I played in the Manchester Open. I wasn’t playing much, as our second child came along and just wanted to play the event and have some fun. I got myself into the Stress Free Golf zone before I started. I had no expectations. I was really looking forward to the end of the day to have a couple of beers with my friends and some laughs after golf. Golf was not the priority. Here’s how I started out, birdie, par, eagle, birdie, birdie, triple bogey, par, birdie, double bogey. I was in the Stress Free Golf zone for the first 5 holes. Once I realized what I was doing, I drifted out, got stressed, made mistakes and didn’t accept them. I got back in the zone for 2 more holes and drifted back out on the 9th hole as I tried to stuff a short one close to recover the score, hit it over the green and made double. Some great golf in stretches as I used the Stress Free Golf method.
In 2009, I was playing a 36 hole one day pro tournament. This time I knew about my Stress Free Golf method and was trying to get my mind in the right place. I hadn’t picked up a golf club in three weeks. I was playing the percentages, setting goals on each shot and had total control of the golf ball. I knew what I needed to do. Plus, I convinced myself that I really didn’t care what I shot! (But I really did) I was cruising around playing solid golf and then the birdies started to fly. I was joking around, have a great time with myself. My playing partners were very serious while shooting rounds in the 80’s. I had the only under par rounds of the tournament, 71 and 68, and won by 10 shots! I was in the Stress Free Golf zone and loving it! This time I knew it and got my mindset into the Stress Free Golf zone. Plus, I finally figured out how to get there!
Why and how does this happen? Your mind is very powerful! Your mind is the most important tool you have in your golf bag. A relaxed, confident attitude is how you will shoot your best scores.
Take this concept and think about it. You’re the best at your career! Otherwise, you wouldn’t be doing it. Could you imagine going into your job every day and saying to yourself “I’m not very good at what I do” or “I hope I don’t mess up”or “I suck”. I hear this every day at the golf club! Of course you don’t do this at your job or you’d be out on the street. Yes, you do make mistakes at your job. Everybody does! But it’s the quiet confidence you have knowing that you can recover from the mistake and make a positive out of the situation so there really wasn’t a mistake in the first place. Now take that mindset and bring it to the golf course!
How? Use these Stress Free Golf Principles that will get your mind in the right place on the golf course and attain the quiet confidence that you portray every day.
Play the Percentages
Control of the Golf Ball
Each Shot has a Goal
Play the Percentages- Heading to the first tee with the mindset knowing you are going to play the percentages starts the Stress Free Golf process. Find the widest part of the fairway in relation to the pin position. Target the fat side of the green. Draw a 3 foot circle on harder putts to try to two putt. Don’t stress yourself trying to hit shots you know you can’t pull off. Set your mind early!
Target Only- No swing thoughts. Picture the target and remember it. It should be the last thing you think of before you take the club away. Before a round of golf, use the range as a warm up only. Pick your target and swing at it without any swing thoughts. Have you ever thrown a ball of paper into the waste basket and slam dunked it? Everybody has! If you thought about your hand and arm position while trying to throw it you wouldn’t come close. Use swing thoughts on the range after a round or a day without playing a competitive round. Swing thoughts on the course during a round will jumble the mind! Just PLAY golf! Your body will react to a target.
Control of the Golf Ball- A solid strike of the golf ball at an 85% golf swing will go longer than a miss hit at 100%. Control, control, control. If you have ever taken a lesson from me, I preach this constantly. Short iron control is essential and a must in getting the ball to the fat part of the green and lowering your scores. Control off the tee. Getting the pin position before your tee shot is essential. Plotting your way to the green by controlling and carefully picking the right club and shot is the way to lower your scores. Think of playing a hole as a game of chess. Think your way around. One of my favorite sayings before I hit a tee shot is “put the ball in play”. It sets my mind to having control of the golf ball, picking the right shot and angle to the green and gets me in a Stress Free mode.
Each Shot Has a Goal- Your pre-shot thought should be your goal for the shot. “What’s the goal here?” . Whether I accomplish the goal or not, I accept the outcome, forget about the shot and get to the next goal. This includes the putting green. Every putt doesn’t have to be holed. Get it close and not three putt is a quite reasonable goal in many situations.
Stress Free Golf is PLAYING golf, accepting the outcome and getting to the next shot. You’re going to have good days and not so good days on the course. Everyone does. Look at the PGA Tour scoreboard each week. 70 players miss the cut each week!
Play golf, don’t sweat it and accept what the round gives to you.
You will realize your potential the first time you get the Stress Free Golf concept into play and see it working. It will start with a couple shots, then a couple holes, then a great 9 hole score, then a great 18 hole score. It’s about reaching your potential on each shot with the outcome being a great golf score!