By Kiel Christianson
After his improbable British Open victory, Ernie Els stated the obvious to anyone who plays golf: "It's a crazy, crazy game."
He'd just watched one of the world's best players, Adam Scott, squander a 4-shot lead going into the final day, including closing with four straight bogeys, handing the Claret Jug to Els (who, by the way, played brilliantly on the final day and fully deserved the win).
Els certainly knows a bit about the crazy way golf plays with your head – he's given up a few final-round leads himself.
Even we amateurs know this feeling all too well: Whether it's the club championship, a $5 Nassau, or simply trying to break 90 for the first time. When you're down to the last couple of holes, the demons start screaming so loudly, you feel like you're in Dante's Inferno.
How to keep those demons at bay? We asked SwingFix Instructor and Director of Golf at the Biltmore Golf Course in Miami/Coral Gables, Fla., Justin Bruton, for advice on how to keep it together on the course that lies in the six inches between your ears:
"Great question. Not an easy one to answer either … Obviously there's a number of different ways to deal with pressure. Pressure is always there whether you're hitting your first tee shot of the day, or you're somewhere halfway through the round, or you're coming down the closing stretch as Adam was on Sunday.
“My key to dealing with pressure is trying to play every hole the same way no matter if it's your first or last hole. The best way to do this in my opinion is to not know your score or status in the tournament. Ignorance is bliss. By not knowing your score, you eliminate the distraction of what you need to do. Just record your score after every hole until you're done and then add up both front and back nine totals at the end of the round. Sometimes this technique is easier said than done the way our minds race during a round. But overall this might be the easiest and most effective mental approach out there."
And as a mnemonic to remind you of this advice, Bruton adds, "Less is more… Don't know your score."