Symptom: You frequently spend time looking for your ball on the course, saying things like "I thought it went over here" and "I could have sworn it was by this tree" and "I thought I was farther than this". Meanwhile, your annoyed playing companions spend a lot of their time helping you find your ball, the Course Ranger is watching your foursome closely, and the game starts to feel a lot more like work than fun...
Description: After you strike your shot, especially when you hit a bad shot, watch your ball until it stops moving and you can't see it any more. Then pick out a very specific (the second tree, the fourth rock from the left, ten paces right of the path, etc.) landmark near your ball that you can easily find once you are out there, before you leave the tee box. Do the same for your playing companions.
Why it Works: It's easy to find balls in the fairway. And it's easy to know not to look for a ball if it's in the water, or out of bounds. It's those shots in between that are of interest here.
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Golf balls travel a long way, and (sadly) often on unintended flight paths. Once your group is off the tee box and down the fairway, one tree or rock looks an awful lot like the other. The ball can settle down in the grass, or kick right or left, or go down a hill, which makes it that much harder to find. Sometimes, your ball will find an even more impossible lie when you miss the fairway, as Rory McIlroy found out!
Extra time spent finding your golf ball tends to fluster and upset you, which can start a negative feedback cycle that distracts you from your game. Stay out of this downward spiral if you possibly can!
The sooner you find your ball, the more time you will have to prepare and consider your next shot without slowing down the pace of play. Or, you can use this extra time to help you friend find their ball, or collect your thoughts, consider the club selection or your lie, think about where you are aiming, and so on. Most of all, you will find that it lowers your stress level, and lets you enjoy your round more. And this will lead to a better experience on the course, which can only help your score.
Did you like this tip? Think you'll spend less time looking, and more time playing, the next time you're playing on an unfamiliar course? Tell your friends about it -- Like, Tweet, Email, or +1 below!
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