It is the last hole of the club championship and you are 1 up on your competitor. You’re thinking, I’ve got this, its in the bag, start putting my name on the trophy. And then…there is that one thought that creeps into your mind not to push your tee shot into the drink. Without realizing it, your muscles tense up, your tempo is out of sync, and you never had a chance of hitting a good shot. Kiss your trophy good bye!
Golf Mental Game
Golf can be broken into two parts; the physical/mechanical part and the mental side. Believe it or not, the mental side of golf probably plays a bigger part is shooting lower golf scores. Hours can be spent beating balls on the driving range but until the mental side of golf is practiced, lower golf scores are but a dream.
The golf mental game affects every golfer. It does not matter if you play just for fun or you are competing in weekly tournaments. There is that internal talk constantly going on inside of your head that affects how you play each shot and its outcome.
Golf Mental Tips
Tip #1 – A Sound Pre-shot Routine
The purpose of a pre-shot routine is to get you in a state of mind of focus and determination. Don’t over complicate your pre shot routine. It should be short enough to not slow up play but should put yourself in a confident state of mind. Decide what your pre shot routine will be and practice it on the driving range. A good practice routine will include the following:
- Selecting a Target
- A visual picture of how your ball is going to take off
- One swing thought
- Smooth Practice Swings
Practice swings should serve a purpose. They should not be used to rehearse swing mechanics. It is my opinion that the pace of play would improve if everyone cut out practice swings on full shots. Golfers would actually shoot lower scores if they eliminated practice swings.
Tip #2 – Stay in the Present
Losing focus in golf is easy to do, especially after a bad hole. The reaction after a bad hole is to start thinking how to make up the lost strokes. The correct thought process should be on how to play the next shot. The best way to stay in the present to set small short term goals every time you play.
Instead of focusing on what score you want to shoot, focus on how many fairways and greens you want to hit. Set some goals on number of putts or the number of times to get it up and down for par.
This not only keeps your mind focused on the shot at hand but will identify weeknesses.
Tip #3 – Accept Bad Shots and Move On
Realize that this game is not fair! Bad breaks are going to happen. There will always be the bad bounce, the lipped out putt, the bad lie, and so on. This game is a game of probability. There are risks and rewards in this game and sometimes the odds are not in your favor. What you can control is your attitude.
Your attitude can tilt the odds in your favor and increase the probability of hitting great shots more frequently. No one hits every single golf shot perfectly. Even great players hit bad shots.
Great players do not let their bad shots determine the outcome of how they are going to hit their next shot. They move on focusing on what needs to get done.
Tip #4 – Study the Greats
Focus on studying players and professionals with a strong mental game. Some of the best mental game books that makes our list are the following:
- Golf is Not a Game of Perfect
- Zen Golf: Mastering the Mental Game
- Fearless Golf: Conquering the Mental Game
- Going Low: How to Break Your Individual Golf Scoring Barrier by Thinking Like a Pro
- Every Shot Must Have a Purpose
Bobby Jones said, “Competitive golf is played mainly on a five-and-a-half inch course…the space between your ears.”
At times this game can torment one’s soul. Be grateful for the chance to be outside and enjoy your surroundings. Use these golf mental tips to keep your sanity in check and develop your mental side of golf.
Regardless of anything, it is a privilege to spend a few hours of life playing this great game. If you can truly achieve a feeling of gratitude, that my friend, is deepest fulfillment of a golfer’s soul.
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