The Road to Scratch Update: Breaking Slumps

It’s been an interesting run since my last update. Just after my handicap index entered new territory on the heels of a great round, I seemed to almost immediately fall into a little slump.


I have no explanation as to why this happened, except to say that it’s just golf.

During a stretch of about four rounds in a row it felt like I would never break 80 again. It seemed like every putt was lipping out, every bounce was into a bunker or behind a tree, and the golf world was conspiring against me. Of course, this is nonsense. It’s just part of the natural variance of playing a game with so many variables. You can never rid your game of variance, you can only work hard to tighten it up.

At the tail end of some unfortunate variance, or what we usually refer to as a “slump”, I turned variance on it’s head and saw the other end of it. Last Sunday I posted a personal best even par 70 at the Calgary Golf and Country Club, 10 or more shots better than all of my last 4 rounds.


Throughout the entire round I was never over par, and through 11 holes was 2-under before bogeying the next two holes. I brought the round into the clubhouse strong after that, making all pars and gave myself some good looks at birdies that didn’t quite fall.

There was something about my “slump” that really got me up for last Sunday’s round. It felt like something clicked in my brain and gave me that feeling of having nothing to lose, because frankly it started to feel like it couldn’t possibly get worse. I took it shot by shot and did a good job of just thinking about the process of trying to hit solid shots towards my target as opposed to thinking about what kind of score those good shots might lead to. Of course, at times, I couldn’t help but wander off and think about embarking on a personal best, but I don’t think I let it have a significant negative impact on my game.

If I can just find a way to get “up” for every round I play and get caught up in the process of hitting good shots, it might just help tighten up that high end variance. This is easier said than done as I still find myself struggling to do that more consistently. I haven’t quite correlated what causes a lack of focus or feeling of unimportance some rounds while others I can stay in full grind mode regardless of what happens. It’s definitely part of my mental game that I’m working on.

Can we as amateur golfers reach a point where we can place the same level of focus and importance to push us on every shot of every round, regardless of mood, situation, or level of our playing partners?

To be honest, I’m not sure yet. But I’m working on it.

Happy golfing!


4 thoughts on “The Road to Scratch Update: Breaking Slumps

  1. Josh

    You have described the challenge of most golfers…amateur or not. In the last 8 days, I played 8 rounds of golf. Three competitive and five not. The competitive rounds were 2,3, and 4. By the seventh round I was mentally fatigued and was going through the motions. My usual playing partners, plus my buddy from the UK were giving me the business for playing poorly. Finally on the 12th hole I had enough and challenged them to a match play game for the last 5 holes. I beat them! Then the next day (8-round), I came out and shot a 73 – second best score of the year. After this long story, the mental game is a challenge and we can get up for every shot….just have to find what motivates us. Apparently, for me it is competition!


  2. Hi Jim,

    I really appreciate the comment! You’ve definitely nailed it, we always have to find something to motivate us no matter the situation. There isn’t much value in going through the motions. I’ll often find myself playing my sloppiest golf in a group of high handicappers, or when I feel fatigued, as you mentioned as well. There’s no excuse for it though, it’s definitely something we can work on. Staying focused and motivated won’t always correlate 100% to low scores, but I can accept a “bad” round a lot easier if I know I left everything I had that day, mentally and physically, out on the course.

    Congrats on the 5 hole victory and the great bounce back with a 73. Thanks again!


Let Us Know What You Think