How to bounce back from a bad hole, according to a Tour player Tom Lewis

Turn your frustration into aggressive golf swings.

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CROMWELL, Conn. Every golfer knows the feeling. They have a good round going, their swing feels great and then — out of nowhere — a mistake. A bad swing turns into a bad shot, which turns into a bad hole.

For most recreational golfers, the rest of the story writes itself: One blow-up hole leads to another, and then another. One bad swing doesn’t just lead to a bad hole, it leads to a bad round.

On Thursday at the Travelers Championship, PGA Tour player Tom Lewis did the opposite.

Lewis started on the back nine, was three under after 12 holes and threatening the top of the leaderboard, but then he doubled the par-4 4th hole. But rather than going to pieces like the rest of us, he birdied his next two and walked off the golf course inside the top 10.

So how to you have a Lewis-style bounce back, rather than an implosion?

Lewis says: Turn your frustration into an aggressive golf swing

When things go bad, throw caution to the wind.

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According to the man himself, speaking after his opening-round 67, it’s not about avoiding frustration after a bad hole. Instead, it’s about using that frustration to your advantage.

“A lot of players think pros have a great bounce-back ability when really it’s more frustration,” Lewis said. “They get so frustrated, they end up caring a little less. They end up making more of an aggressive, free swing and more birdies.”

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It’s interesting insight from Lewis that highlights an important point: tense, tentative golf swings often lead to bad shots.

When things go badly, it’s easy to start getting defensive — but when you do that, things only get worse. It’s OK to get frustrated, Lewis says, but only if you channel that frustration into making your next swing an aggressive, committed one.

That’s what he did after his double at TPC River Highlands’ 4th hole on Thursday, and it worked.

“My next hole was a par-3 but I also knew I had the par-5 coming up,” he said. “Me thinking that it doesn’t really matter what happens [on the par-3] probably freed me up and helped me make birdie.”

So, after a bad hole, throw caution to the wind. Make an aggressive, free golf swing, and you’ll be bouncing back from your bad holes with birdies, rather than going from bad to worse.

Luke Kerr-Dineen Contributor

Luke Kerr-Dineen is the Game Improvement Editor at GOLF Magazine and In his role he oversees all the brand’s service journalism spanning instruction, equipment, health and fitness, across all of GOLF’s multimedia platforms.

An alumni of the International Junior Golf Academy and the University of South Carolina–Beaufort golf team, where he helped them to No. 1 in the national NAIA rankings, Luke moved to New York in 2012 to pursue his Masters degree in Journalism from Columbia University and in 2017 was named News Media Alliance’s “Rising Star.” His work has also appeared in USA Today, Golf Digest, Newsweek and The Daily Beast.