One Shot at a Time
We always hear professional golfers say they are playing “one shot at a time.” Why is that a standard line? What does it really mean? Are they just saying it to avoid getting into detail about shots with the press, or is there any true meaning or truth to a strategy of playing one shot at a time? I say both. The statement does appease the press because they get a quick quote for the next morning’s daily sports page. But, I think that players really do play one shot at a time, and here is why.
First, because when you are playing a competitive or casual round of golf, every single shot counts. In a competitive round you cannot afford to lose shots to the field. Most of the competitors are good or great players and a golfer playing to win cannot afford to lose even a single stroke. If you do lose a stroke, you may not have time to make it up during the course of the round.
Second, because golf is a game of the present and conditions constantly change. Meaning, how you approached a shot in the past or what you might do in the future has no bearing. Every single shot is unique every time you play. Even if you play the same course on a regular basis every course setup is different. Yes, the superintendent may put the tees or pins in certain spots during course setup. However, that does not matter. As soon as you tee off every shot from there in is unique. Everything changes each round: ball position, pin position, wind direction, club selection, moisture, temperature, humidity, rough thickness, grain, putt breaks, etc.
So, the next time you are playing a competitive round of golf, whether for a skin or a championship, ask yourself “what are the ramifications if I do not execute this shot?” Will I be able to recover? Will my opponent make a mistake? Will there be any more opportunities to make up a stroke or hole? That is why good players and professionals play one shot at a time. They know that one poor swing, bad decision or miscalculation may cost them the round, championship or match.
In golf, every shot does count as you will only play that particular shot once in your lifetime. You will never have the same shot twice regardless of the conditions. Make it count because it is a once in a lifetime opportunity.