To be honest, I was worried when I watched Britanny Lincicome’s last hole in regulation at the 2014 Wegmans LPGA Championship. She was smiling, and talking with her caddy, and looked very relaxed. I turned to my husband and said, ‘I hope I am totally wrong, but I worry she might be ‘in the future’’
Don’t get me wrong. There is nothing better than feeling happy, confident, and relaxed on the course. The trick is to know ‘what’ is making you feel that way. Is it because you are happy with the way you are playing, or is it because you are already thinking of what a win might feel like? Despite of how you are feeling, can you still focus on the present task?
Human beings have a tendency to think about ‘the outcome’. A golf player’s mind is wired to entertain thoughts such as: ‘Wow, I might win this Major!’ ‘How will I deal with reporters?’ ‘What will this mean for sponsorships?’ ‘Two more putts and this match is mine.’ These are all very normal thoughts when leading a tournament, or just playing golf with your regular buddies. But because they are normal, you need to be aware that they might happen. Being ‘in the future’ is dangerous territory because when you are thinking of the two putts you need to win the game, you are not focusing on the present. So, beware! Listen carefully to your self-talk and catch yourself wandering to the outcome.
Like many of us, you may have been in this situation before. Ask yourself: ‘What worked for me then?’ ‘What did I do to help myself focus on that particular shot?’ The idea is to keep using what worked for you in the past, and to do something different when it doesn’t work any longer.
When you feel happy and relaxed, check yourself. Could your mind be wondering towards the future? One way of grounding yourself, of coming back to the present is by acknowledging how you are feeling and then asking questions. For example: ‘Yes, I am feeling happy, confident, and relaxed because I am playing well and I think I am in position to win this. What do I need to focus on now to give myself a good chance?’ now?’ Or: ‘What does a good shot look like here?’ or, ‘What does a good putting stroke feel like?’
Come up with your own questions. The answers to your questions will bring you back to the present.