As our society is getting “Back2Golf”, many golfers are reacquainting themselves with their game. Taking an extended break from the game can often help golfers while others find a bit of rust has accumulated on their mechanics and are struggling when they re-emerge to the course.
We have all handled the extended time spent at home differently. Some of us have practiced our mechanics without ball feedback, others have taken a peaceful break from the game, eagerly looking to get reacquainted when facilities open back up. Wherever you are in your game, and mental state, you can prepare for a successful return to golf with several simple strategies.
Preparation for your return to the course is a must. Things may look different, and that’s ok, but be prepared with the differences by allowing your mind to be open and accepting. Everything from checking in to your tee time, to walking the course, wearing a mask, or skipping the post-round handshakes on 18 will look different for everybody. Be prepared mentally for some challenges in adjusting to new rules and regulations (i.e. without bunker rakes you might be lifting the ball, smoothing out the sand with your foot, and replacing the ball), new societal guidelines, and new golf culture behaviors. And…its all ok. Be open to them for a pleasant return to the course.
Secondly, mentally situate yourself to your game looking different. Taking time away from the game causes those neural pathways to not be as eloquently grooved as they were when you were playing and practicing several times a week. Be kind to yourself that it may take a few weeks to get your distance back, find helpful swing cues, and to reacquaint yourself with the motor patterns you were using frequently before many golf courses shut down. If you are less critical of your return, and more accepting of getting your game back within a few short weeks, you’ll have a more pleasant experience once you meet your ole friend golf again. Reset those expectations to allow a smoother return back to your game.
Finally, visualization is a helpful tool to re-engage your brain with your game. Before heading back to the course, mentally rehearse what your warm-up session will look like, see your swing in action, imagine where your ball will fly to. When you visualize, you are activating similar pathways in your brain as if you were doing them in real time. This can also help cut down on anxiety with those first few shots of your first round back to the course. Seeing yourself hit a fantastic drive right down the middle of the fairway will set the template for a positive experience. Visualization is a helpful tool when you are trying to be ultimately prepared for any event in your life.
Your return to golf will be warm welcome to an old friend. I invite you to spruce up your game with the help of a certified golf coach who can guide and mentor you to success. I wish you all much fun as you reacquaint with your golf social groups and get to feel the grass again underneath your feet. Many fairways and birdies your way!