All players have a comfort zone when playing the game.  However, when you stray from the zone, say when you’re on pace to break 100 for the first time, or when you’re several under par early during a round, it’s easy to get nervous.  These emotions are natural, and it takes visualization and training to keep them under control.  There are several ways to do this when playing great golf.  One very successful drill I use with my students, to ensure a sense of calmness when entering the zone, is to play a few rounds from the front tees. When students play from closer tees, it helps them hit more greens in regulation, getting to par-5s in two and maybe driving some par-4 greens.  I want my students to have opportunities to get up and down for birdie, not par.  I want them to feel the excitement of draining a lot of putts inside 10 feet for birdie, not lagging from 40 feet.  The excitement which comes from consistent putting, translating into a low round, introduces positive nerves, which cements the experiences into memory recall.  Rather than reverting to the negative mindset of “don’t blow it,” the student can draw upon those positive memories and welcome an attitude of “how low can I go” to experience the thrill that only a great round provides. This aggressive behavior is beneficial in many ways.  The student won’t focus on the milestone that they are close to achieving.  It helps them focus solely on going lower, and not maintaining their current level of performance.  How many students have told you, “If I knew I could have made par on the last two holes, then I would have broken 100 for the first time”?  We want our students to think about making another birdie, making another par, not, “How much longer can I keep this up?” By playing more forward tees in practice rounds, your students will learn to shoot lower scores, and thus, you are training them to go low.  This will help keep your students calm when they are in the “zone,” allowing them to finish good rounds strong and turning great rounds into their best rounds!
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