Here's a goo video from golf instructor Mike Hebron on the missing piece to one's golf potential.
It's interesting that Mr. Hebron mentions this as this is part of the change in attitude that I had which was in part sparked by this video from retired Navy SEAL, Don Shipley:
It was interesting to hear Mr. Shipley's take on trying to become a SEAL. There is a documentary on YouTube showing the BUD/S training that the SEALs go thru and it's a real eye opening experience. But, part of the eye opening experience is that the training doesn't come off so much like your 'typical military training.' There is not nearly as much yelling or getting in the face of those going in the training. And if a person is legitimately injured or catches pneumonia or bronchitis, they are allowed to sit out for a while and come back when they are healed (although there is a certain time limit or they get rolled back to another class) and when they come back, the instructors do not begrudge them for having to sit out. As one instructor said "there is nothing you can do about getting pneumonia."
This brings me back to Shipley's comments in the video. When asked having the attitude of 'refusing to quit' and 'refusing to fail', Shipley doesn't quite like that attitude because in his mind it's a good thing to know when to quit and realize when no matter what you do, you ARE going to fail at times. And as Mr. Shipley put, he doesn't give a damn about failure.
Failure is going to happen. Get used to it and if you want to succeed, stop caring about failing.
This brings me to sports psychologist Dr. Bhrett McCabe. One of things he mentioned (I'm paraphrasing) is that "good focus is when you focus on one thing and nothing else matters." If you have a 150 yard approach shot and water on your left and a bunker on a right, good focus is focusing on your target and the shot you want to hit and the water and bunker don't matter.
Instead, most golfers are dividing their attention between the target and the water on the left. So they 'hedge their bets' and aim towards the right side of the green. And now the focus becomes more divided between water on the left, the flag stick and the right side of the green. And continually, they hit poor shots because they have not focused on that 1 thing and nothing else matters.
Because they are too afraid of failure and place too much importance on it.
What helped me get over the fear of failure and being able to get 'good focus' is from watching countless PGA Tour players play either live or on ShotTracker. Here is the one thing I came away with....Tour players hit a LOT of bad shots. In fact, they hit some absolutely putrid shots from time to time. I've seen shanks, snap hooks, sky balls, cold tops, etc. Mind you, they are not doing it as frequently as amateurs, but they do happen. And they do happen far more than people think.
One of things I commonly see on Tour is a player will start off something like this:
A. They will hit it terribly for the first 5 holes and play them +3 over par.
B. Then they may hit a weak drive into the rough on the 6th hole. Hit a great shot from the rough to 3-feet and kick in for birdie (+2).
C. Then they get on the par-5 7th hole, hit 3 great shots and make an eagle (E)
D. Then they hit the ball mediocre on the 8th hole, but save a par. (E)
E. Then on #9 they hit it okay, but make a 25 footer for birdie (-1).
After the front nine, you see the score of -1 and think that the Tour player is playing alright, if not pretty well. But the reality is that they have hit more bad shots (by Tour standards) than good shots.
What good mental game Tour players do is that they have the confidence to know that they can always make up a bad shot with a good shot. They can take a drive hit into the woods and hit a great recovery shot or make a great putt to save par. Or they come away with a bogey after that bad drive and then birdie the next hole to break even. That's what I call 'True Confidence'...understanding you are going to fail at times, but that you have the ability to make up for those failures.
'False Confidence' is the golfer that believes they can hit every shot perfectly. Inevitably, they can't and then doubt creeps in their mind in the following shots. "Well, I just hit that one terribly, what makes me believe I will hit the next shot well?" is what their attitude starts telling them.
Moe Norman was a great example of True Confidence on the golf course. As he said, "I have nothing to lose but a stupid golf ball. And I can get plenty more them." And "a bad shot will not hurt my game, it will only hurt my vanity. And vanity is the luxury of fools." Moe hit great shots because that is what he wanted to hit and that is all he focused on. But, if he did hit a bad shot, it didn't bother him a lick.
It's why I feel the theory of "what separates Tour players from the rest is that they hit better bad shots" is extremely detrimental to the game. It creates a false sense that you can't fail miserably from time to time if you want to play at a high level.
What really separates the Tour players from the rest of us is that their good/great shots are generally better than the rest and they hit more good/great shots more often.
We should remember that from a physics perspective, being off by only 1 degree or 1 dimple could be the difference between a good shot and a horrendous shot. So, as Mr. Hebron alludes to, accept the fact that you're going to have failures in a round of golf. You're going to hit bad shots, even in great rounds of golf. If you can accept that, you can start to not care about failure and have True Confidence so you can then start to have good focus and you'll start to hit some amazing shots and shoot better scores than you ever imagined.