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How to Come Out off a Golf Slump

The 29th Secret

There are times when one's whole game seems to have gone to pot, and there are times when it really has. What steps should be taken then to come out of a slump? Here are the most important:

1. Determine whether or not you are really in one. It could be only a statistical variation. If the slump is no greater than those you have hit in previous golfing years, it is best simply to ride it out. Experimentation under such circumstances can well lead to a prolongation of the trouble. False slumps may be due to lack of practice, changes in the weather, changes in the accuracy of the greens, or the fact that your competitors may be riding a wave of good golf.

2. Revert to a previous form. A genuine slump often comes from experimentation with a swing that happens to work well temporarily. The experimental form then becomes a habit. Later, the person forgets how he got into the habit in the first place. Nothing will produce a slump faster than a new technique which was temporarily successful and which becomes a "fixed idea." This situation leads us into golfing blind alleys. To get out of them, we must trace the cause of the slump. This will eliminate frustration, and then we can seek out remedies with a clearer mind. An excellent and quick remedy is to go back to the last technique used prior to the experimentation. Return to your standard form and build from there.

3. Make a shot by shot analysis to see where the strokes are being lost. Often a slump causes confusion, making a slump within a slump. The golfer says, "My game has gone to pieces". He is so demoralized that he has no interest in practicing. He can't think clearly as to what remedial measures are indicated.
The situation is so painful that he may decide to lay off for awhile. This is not a bad procedure, but it can be improved upon.
Generally, the initial loss is on the greens. Poor putting will put a great strain on chipping and both may collapse. It may be that you have had a weakness in your iron play for some time, but that it was camouflaged by good putting and chipping. Your tee shot may be at fault. A gradual loss of distance has so lengthened the game that you are actually playing a longer course. This frequently occurs if a person has a tendency to fade long shots. Follow up the analysis with corrective practice. The errors cannot cure themselves. At first, single scores will not be better, but the average will gradually rise. Then the occasional good games will inevitably crop up.

4. Keep and review your notes.  Forgetting can produce slumps. It is wise to take notes of all techniques that have been successful. Unfortunately, because of the human urge for experimentation, we often subconsciously make a habit of what was at first an experimental swing. The previous better swing is forgotten. Notes will help you get back in the lost groove.

5. Let forgetting help you. Forgetting can get you into a slump and forgetting can get you out of one. If all remedies fail, it is a good idea to take a rest from the game. You may forget bad habits. Experiments have shown that learning can occur through forgetting between practice sessions. The mechanism is not completely understood but it has been noted in maze learning by rats and humans, in tossing rings at a stake, in learning a new series of numbers, and in chess. Some psychologists believe that such improvement through forgetting is due to the gradual  extinction  of numerous psychological and physical difficulties.

6. Practice intensively. You may not be playing or practicing as much as usual. In this case, the solution is obvious, so don't experiment with form.

7. Clear up outside emotional problems. The slump can be due to emotional factors that are producing inattention. Such factors can be feelings of insecurity, other types of fear, and problems about which you cannot make up your mind. It is best for the golfer to believe that all emotional problems can be solved—and they generally can be. Even when they cannot, it is possible to refuse to permit the emotional problem to complicate your life. One great golfer went into a permanent decline because of a marital problem that could have been solved. Instead he brooded about it and never took the steps that were indicated. Another golfer went into a slump that lasted for many months. He thought he had a fatal disease, though he really was all right. On the other hand, the great Babe Didrickson refused to permit her quite serious condition "to get her down," and won great victories when others would have been in justifiable despair. One of the inspiring sights at the Masters is to see Sarazen competing as if he were nineteen, demanding no quarter, and extracting a comparable enjoyment from the game as if to say, "No hungry generations tread me down," if we may be permitted to paraphrase a line from Keats.