One significant thing I have learned over my 25 years of golf is this: Never look ahead. I have screwed up so many tournaments and good rounds with this thinking; "Wow, I am playing so good, if I just par the next four holes, I will shoot 65!" and oh boy, that is my kiss of death. My emotions would alter my thinking, and my focus would turn to the results which adversely impacted my game. So it only took me 20 years of golf to figure out that I need to stay present when I am playing.
Being in the present moment, "the now" is the ultimate focus. It is being in a zone. If you can block off all distractions, control your thoughts and just focus on each shot, you can put together incredible rounds no matter what stage you are playing on or dollar amount you are playing for.
Dr. Bob Rotella shared this Trevor Immelman story with Golf Digest back in 2009:
"Before Trevor teed off on Sunday at the 2008 Masters with a two-shot lead, he decided he wouldn't look at leaderboards. He had a plan: Pick a target, visualize the shot and let it rip. As Trevor walked up the 18th fairway, Brandt Snedeker put his arm around him and nudged him to walk ahead. Trevor told me it was the first time all day he allowed himself to think about the outcome. After marking his ball, he asked his caddie how they were doing. His caddie said he had a three-stroke lead over Tiger. Trevor said he went from being quiet and calm inside to thinking, How can I not five-putt this?"
I think many of us can relate to this and we need to start implementing Trevor's approach to each shot. Pick a target, visualize the shot and let it rip.Take it one shot at a time and keep your thoughts restricted to just that shot. So simple, yet so challenging.
Practice this mentality when playing. Be conscious of your thinking and develop this approach into a habit when you play. It will take time, but if you can stick with it, your game will start reaching new heights.