Inside the Ropes

By: Mike Wagner

Have you ever uttered or heard a playing partner groan the dreaded, "I knew I was going to do that" after a poor shot? Most likely you have. This phrase doesn't exist on the PGA Tour, and shouldn't exist in your game either.

I have caddied dozens of rounds on the PGA Tour, and never once have I heard such a self-pitying lament. This is because great players are prepared for every shot, plain and simple. The outcome is not always what they expect, but they were prepared for the best. If a player knows he was going to hit a poor shot, then he shouldn't have pulled the trigger in the first place. Take it from Jack Nicklaus, who once said, "I never hit a shot I wasn't prepared for."

Mental preparation delivers solid execution. This starts and ends with your own repeatable pre-shot routine. Having a positive mental image of the shot makes more sense than being negative and prepared for a poor outcome. Your mental imagery becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy.

Let's face it, there's only so much in our control on the golf course, and a positive mental attitude is one of those things. The reality is that we won't execute perfectly every time, but it will happen more often with the right mental approach.

Help yourself hit more shots the way you want them by preparing yourself before you hit the shot. Visualize where you want to hit it and believe it's going to happen. You'll have more fun, be more positive, play better, and save the sanity of your playing partners who hate to hear, "I knew I was gonna do that!"

Mike Wagner is a lifelong Seattle resident and a plus-1 handicap golfer out of Inglewood Golf Club in Kenmore, Wash. Mike has spent the last 10 years in the financial industry and continues to play high-level amateur tournaments around the country.

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