At the Tour Chanpionship at East Lake this past weekend, Henrik Stenson was cruising along mid-way through the 3rd round with a lead that had ballooned to 8 strokes when seemingly out of nowhere the proverbial wheels began to fall off. In the space of an hour or so, Henrik had given four shots back to the field. The announcers talked about the rainy weather playing a role or his attitude changing with such a large lead, but, I firmly believe he did what all golfers are prone to do from time to time – he simply lost focus.
Having played many rounds of golf with an equally large number of different golfers, I have been witness to faltering focus on more occasions than I can remember. We’ve all been there (some more than others) and it is never fun when it happens. We may be in a groove or in the the zone or merely playing steady satisfying golf, when, often without notice, we start leaking oil like your grandfather’s 1950 Nash Rambler. In a blink of an eye, our tee shots become out-of-bound seeking missiles. Our irons have developed a server case of worm-burner-itis and our short game has morphed into ourdoor table tennis. It can become so bad that we literally don’t know whether to laugh or cry. Then, like Moses parting the Red Sea, without an inkling of how, we return to a state of almost zen-like clarity.
Personnally, I can count on one hand (and probably have a finger or two to spare) the rounds of golf I have played at the same level from start to finish (and, no, I’m not counting the rounds that start bad and stay bad!). And, lately, I have become so cogniznat of the impending walk-about, that I often try and force myself to stay in the moment or, simply put, to stay focused. But, I also find that is next to impossible to do so. Maybe it is just too difficult for anyone to remain focused on a task at hand for such an extended period of time as a round of golf. Maybe all of us golfers are doomed to ‘lose it’ at some point during the round. If that is the case, then we need to develope some kind of strategy to minimize the damage.
I seem to remember years ago a Canadain golfer named Richard Zokol took to wearing a walk-man (hey, he played in the 80’s and 90’s) to stay focused and other golfers were using bio-rythmn feedback to remain focused. I would bet that there are some current golfers who are using ADD drugs to calm the demons.
Me, I don’t think I want to resort to those types of solutions, so I’ll keep plugging away trying to stay calm, cool and collected until the storm clouds start to loom over the horizon, at which time I’ll take a brief look into the woods to see if I can find my ball, take the appropriate penalty strokes and keep telling myself that I’m glad I don’t have to do this to make a living.