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Sunday, July 4, 2021

Raymond Floyd on Playing Comfortable

Given how much we've heard lately from pros about mental stress, I thought this advice from Raymond Floyd would be appropriate. After all, the mental stress they talk about comes from trying to gain the approval of others, and putting pressure on ourselves to meet those unrealistic standards.

Raymond Floyd

Here are selected quotes from his book The Elements of Scoring.

...I think this is the best advice I can give anyone about playing golf. It's the biggest factor in consistently getting the most from your game.

To me, playing "comfortable" means understanding what you're capable of, and playing at a level just inside that boundary. It's also called playing within yourself.

It means playing golf the easiest way you can. Avoiding high-risk shots in favor of safe ones. Swinging easy instead of hard. Playing shots that allow you to relax rather than to feel pressure. Taking what the golf course gives you.

On its surface, this might not seem a very appealing concept. After all, isn't it part of the fun of golf to test your ability? Why intentionally underachieve when the way to improvement lies in stretching your limits?

Well, the truth is, you won't be underachieving at all, you'll be growing as a scorer, and your scores will come down, which is hardly a sign of underachieving. Playing within oneself is a time-honored method of sports performance, one the greatest athletes practice regularly...

It's important to make the distinction between playing comfortable and being "on" -- which occurs on those rare days when everything is clicking physically. Playing comfortable means accepting what you have that day -- no matter how little that might be -- and not forcing more. It's a mind-set more than a physical state. And it's a key to getting the most out of your game.

It's a lesson that came to me slowly, but once it came, I was in contention to win a lot more often.

On the mental side, playing comfortable engenders a calm, confident state of mind. You know you're hitting the shot with the greatest margin for error, so there's less pressure to hit the ball perfectly.

Or, as many of the pros have said recently, they needed to learn how to relax and just have fun on the golf course. Isn't it good to know that something so simple can be the key to better scoring?

Floyd writes much more about playing comfortable in his book -- including how this can actually result in getting the control you're pressuring yourself to develop -- but I think this enough to get you started.


  1. Elements of Scoring is one of my favorite golf books. Nothing about the swing in it just the strategy.