One vital scoring strategy for professionals is the distinction of “78-22 percent” and there are lessons we can learn from it.

April 19, 2024

Imagine that you begin a round splendidly and hit numerous impressive shots on the initial holes. However, suddenly your worst shot surfaces. In this scenario, what occupies your mind when it comes to taking the next shot? Similar to most of us in such situations, we tend to dwell on our weak attempt instead of focusing on all the excellent ones we made before it.

This is because we tend to fixate on the shots that are missing from our performance, rather than acknowledging the ones we do make. In other words, our attention gravitates towards what’s incorrect instead of what is correct. Dr. Bhrett McCabe defines this as capability versus capacity and it distinguishes us amateurs from professionals in sports psychology terms.

As part of our live webinar series exclusively for Golf Digest+ members, we organized a McCabe-hosted Happy Hour event. The complete hour-long Q&A session is available to watch now.

McCabe, who has collaborated with many professional golfers such as Jon Rahm, Nick Dunlap, Sam Burns and more highlights that every golfer possesses a specific level of ability. This proficiency is our genuine potential or optimal selves. Analogous to a battery that powers up devices; when we’re at full capacity in terms of capability while playing the game – everything works seamlessly towards achieving peak performance levels.

According to McCabe, while Scottie Scheffler and his fellow tour players possess high skill levels, they cannot utilize their complete tool set once they step onto the course. Factors such as fatigue or discomfort with a certain group can limit them from performing at 100%, even if they are hitting the ball well beyond expectations.

The game of golf involves numerous factors, making it impractical to perform our best every single day. In fact, there are instances where we may not even come close to showcasing our true potential due to several variables that affect us on the course. As a result, what we bring with us when playing can vary greatly from one day to another and could fall short compared to what we’re truly capable of achieving in this sport.

It’s possible that your back is hurting, or there may be tension at home, and maybe you’re not quite feeling in sync with your swing. But the truth is, we rarely arrive at the golf course with our “golf batteries” fully charged.

McCabe explains that players would eagerly use a scanner where they could determine what percentage of their abilities are present on a given day. He notes that the majority of athletes simply want to discover which skills need improving, with many focusing on finding ways to perfect their technique while searching for those elusive missing 22 percent.

Often, we fixate on the flaws in our gameplay and overlook the 78 percent that was performed well. Perhaps your driving ability is below par but you excel at chipping and putting. It’s common to waste an entire round attempting different swing techniques to remedy your driver rather than recognizing your proficiency in short game shots. Consequently, you may begin committing mistakes around the greens as a result of this fixation with correcting one aspect of play.

McCabe states that it is rare for professionals to make this error. He explains that skilled players often assess their abilities and adjust their strategy accordingly, opting to use a fairway finder shot during the first few holes if necessary while acknowledging their current performance level stands at 78 percent.

Professional players do not waste their rounds fixating on their mistakes. They refrain from attempting to correct any issues with their swings while playing the course, reserving such adjustments for later practice sessions off-site.