Having a mental plan for golf, is key if you can going to improve your mental game and lower your scores. Follow this simple mental plan during your next round.
1. Eat, drink and be well prepared
Don’t underestimate the importance of eating and drinking, before and during the round. Not doing this right will affect your mental game and your performance. Before a round, keep it light and eat 1-2 hours before playing (avoid the clubhouse fried breakfast just before heading out). Tiger’s pre-round meal of choice is an egg-white omelet with vegetables. A small sandwich with fruit would be another good option. Don’t have a big meal like a bowl of pasta or a cheeseburger and make sure to drink plenty of water, not coffee.
During the round, avoid the half-way hut hot dog and drinks that give you high blood sugar like soda or beer. The surge in insulin will make you sluggish. Go for the healthy option of bananas, mixed nuts and health bars and sip plenty of water. Adam Scott prefers a Clif Bar, Jim Furyk, Larabars. .
For a pre-round warm-up, try to spend at least 10 mins on each of driving range, short game and putting (30 mins total). This is a teaching article in itself, but be sure not to work on anything technical or think that is any indication of how you are about to play. Get your mind and body synchronized by visualizing and hitting a variety of shots and mix up your clubs like you would on the course. Be sure to throw in some good golf stretching exercises.
Make sure you have plenty of time to get to the first tee from the driving range, so you don’t feel rushed.
2. Don’t try too hard for a score, play each shot as best you can
Trying does not work in golf – you simply can’t force a good score. The only thing you can try your best at, is the shot you are about to play. Focus on process, not results and you will play better. You can’t change anything about what has preceded and looking into the future (what you might score) only takes your energy and focus away from what you are doing in the present. A really solid shot routine is the best way to stay in the present and do everything possible to execute a shot as best you can.
3. Have a Clear Pre Shot Routine for every shot
The shot routine is probably the most important part of a good mental game, as overtime, it creates positive habits. There are 3 parts: The pre shot routine, the shot, and the post-shot routine.
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4. Have a strong course strategy
It’s worth spending the time to think carefully about every shot. As Ben Hogan said, “He who misses best, wins”. This is true. All golfers, from novice through to tour pro, miss the target. It’s not being negative, it’s just a statistical certainty. So factoring that into any decision you make for your drives and approach shots, is smart.
5. Control your reactions and learn to switch off (relax and enjoy)
Golf is just a game. Unless you’re playing it for your living, there’s really not much point in getting upset about it. It’s easier said than done, but even the slightest negative reaction to a shot can cause stress and tightening of your muscles which can snowball if you let it. As part of your pre-shot routine, say to yourself, “I have a very positive intention for this shot, I know exactly where I want it to go, I can see it in my mind, but if it doesn’t go there I will just accept it and move on without getting angry as I know this will hurt my game and my enjoyment.
Remember that even the best players in the world hit the ball in the water and the trees, the difference is, they easily and quickly forget about it and get their mind back where it needs to be – solely in the present moment. Tiger has a ten pace rule, where he allows himself 10 paces to dwell or be upset about a shot. Then it’s back to the shot at hand. Between shots, it’s your time to enjoy the time you’ve been afforded to be out on the golf course among natural beauty, your friends, family or people you’ve just met. Take a moment to take yourself away from your game, swing and score and just relax.
Measure success by execution of the mental plan for golf
Playing your best is about controlling what you can control on the course. Your technical skills are what they are at any moment in time. It’s executing the mental plan that’s going to give you the best chance of accessing your best skills and shooting a good score.
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