Lesson Tee: Jeff Coston

The Lesson Tee: The mental game is important if you want to play well


PGA Professional Jeff Coston in the fairway on No. 18 during round 3 of the Senior PGA Championship held at Kiawah Island Resort in Kiawah, South Carolina. Saturday, May 26, 2007. (photograph by The PGA of America).

It is definitely deep fall.  November through February is a block of the year where many put the clubs away.  Then again, many just go away to the sun and keep the clubs in hand.  No matter where we are and what we are doing we can constantly learn about our golf game.  Or should I say learn and re-learn?

Playing and teaching over my lifetime I have learned and experienced a lot.  Fortunately, or unfortunately, I’ve re-learned a lot also.  This would be about my game, the game and other’s games.

Here are some of my re-learned, readjusted and recommitted stuff a couple of years ago.

First for me, and very important, is attitude and mindset.  The attitude/mindset would especially pertain to the course and tournament  play.  The concept, “try less.”  Yes, less is more.  “Care less, try less, trust more, have more fun, relax more.”  Usually, in sports and life, the harder we try the better we do.  Bear down, grind it out, is something we are told. 

Not in golf!  I’ve had the most success when I have let go of control to get control.  Much of the time I consciously relax my arms, shoulders and mind to play my best golf.  One year at the Northwest Open I asked myself, “How would you hit this shot if it didn’t matter?”  “Hit it like you don’t care where it goes.”  That is a scary concept.  Especially when we are trained to care so dearly about results. 

This makes golf easier and even fun rather than a test.  Bob Rotella says; “Play to play great rather than not to play poorly.”  If golfers took an introspective look they would see most try hard, have tight muscles, are too attached to results and try not to miss or not hit the ball in bad spots.  Golf becomes hard work. 

The more we make a decisive decision on the shot and club, and trusted this decision with a consistent relaxed waggle and routine; fully committed to what they want and the target; good stuff will happen!

Back in 2008 I won the Rosauers Spokane Open by being patient.  I had to be.  I shot one over par the first nine holes.  I think I was 12 or 14 under at the end of the tournament.  I just tried to be my own best friend.  I tried to treat myself like I would treat a friend if I were their caddy.  I would say the correct thing rather than beating myself up over missed opportunities.  Finally, things turned around.

We have all heard it said, one hole at a time.  This is true. To bite off the full round is too much to swallow.  Have a plan for each hole.  This plan would include mental, physical and strategy.  Tom Lehman told me each hole is a brand new tournament.  There is no score just golf and golf shots.  We would all do better if there were no measure in our minds of score and just played the game one shot and one hole at a time.

I have learned a lot from Rotella over the years.  I’ve spent time with him personally and read all his books.  I would suggest reading more and applying what you read of Rotella.  He is very practical.  Whether you play this winter or hang them up, the Rotella read or the re-read will serve you well.

I have been doing the re-read and re-applying myself.

I will continue this topic in future articles.

    Jeff Coston is a multiple Pacific Northwest PGA Player of the Year. Coston is a member of the Pacific Northwest PGA Hall of Fame. He can be reached by calling Semiahmoo at 360.201.4590. www.jeff Coston.com.