By Bob Wyatt, USGTF National Coordinator
Tour-caliber players rarely ever allow themselves out of their comfort zones when in competition if they are playing well. The simple reason for this lies in the fact they have, for the most part, rehearsed over and over the game plan they intend to use on any given week of competition. This is not to say the player will not deviate from the original plan to a degree, but the degree of variance will be closely monitored so as to not pull the player too much out of the so-called zone.
Recreational players, on the other hand, have a tendency to do just the opposite. The emotions of a recreational player tends to be all over the place during play, and the result usually is not very productive. There can be a number of reasons for this, but I feel the main culprit can be found in the lack of intelligent preparation for the round. With very little, if any, practice time being applied between rounds, many recreational players leave their office, rush off to the golf course, and frantically rattle off a few range balls, hoping that the magic cure for their swing woes will magically appear. Sound familiar?
In order to truly improve your game, you need to seek out some quality instruction with your local USGTF professional, and have him or her help you in setting a game plan for you to follow. This will require focus and discipline on your part if you you want any true improvement to be realized. One must always remember the range is the perfect place to work on areas you are having trouble with, because you are not worried about posting a score at this time. The practice area for both the long and short game should be used in an intelligent, organized manner. Tour players play close attention to this fact, which allows them to take a true game plan to the golf course. Ben Hogan summed up the major difference between a competent player as opposed to a mid- to high-handicapper using just one simple word: AWARENESS!