Mental Toughness

The 7 Habits Of Golfers With Mental Toughness

Golfers with mental toughness share the same traits in common. To become the best player you can be requires mental toughness, which isn’t born, it’s learned. My goal for this article is to make you aware of what drives the performances of the top players and help you make them habits for yourself.

They Act Like A Champion

Golfers with mental toughness act like a champion regardless of their score. They understand the importance of body language, attitude, mindset and discipline, and they are self-aware enough to know how they are acting and behaving in any moment. Choosing to be a certain way is a powerful thing. Define the characteristics and integrity of the player you want to be and act into this role every day. Hold yourself accountable to those values. Over time, you’ll make these habits and part of your performance DNA on the course.

They Focus Only On What They Can Control

Focusing on what you can’t control (bad bounces, weather, the other players, etc) wastes mental energy and creates performance anxiety. You can only control your own process and your own behaviors (on and off the course) – there are too many variables for you to be in complete control of the outcome of each shot and end result. Focus on the things that you know will influence your performance most, and make these things the measures of success at the end. You can hold yourself accountable to them using my Mental Game Scorecard.

They See The Past ONLY As Training For Future Success

Your past is there to be learned from, not to be judged and regretted. You can’t change the mistakes you’ve made, only learn from them to become a better player. Be honest enough to go back and look at your performance with a non-judgmental “Growth mindset”, so you discover what can be learned to improve, instead of the judgmental, egotistical “Fixed mindset”.

Golfers With Mental Toughness Never Complain

Golfers with Mental Toughness are aware of how damaging complaining and negative self-talk are. Your ongoing narrative with yourself and the language you choose will have a direct affect on your confidence level and your mood. Instead of talking about what the problems are, let’s talk about the solutions. Here’s an example:
Complaining: “My short putting sucks today”.
Positive re-frame: “If I focus on my line and trust my stroke, I will make more short putts”.
What would you like to hear at various times on the course? Notice your narrative and shape it accordingly. Find words that trigger positive emotions and encouragement. Use the power of self-talk to raise your game!

They Are Grateful And Optimistic

Playing golf should always be seen as a privilege not an entitlement. Gratitude is a muscle that needs to be exercised regularly. If it doesn’t, our ability to be grateful atrophies. What are you grateful for in the game you are about to play regardless of the outcome? Remind yourself of these before and during your round as much as possible. Life could be a lot more difficult than going to play golf on a beautiful golf course. This ties in nicely with being more optimistic, another trait of golfers with mental toughness – they can see a positive in any situation, where most would see a negative. Challenge yourself to take as many positives from any round, even from every shot you hit. Be more grateful for being able to play the game you love (and less negative) and you’ll gain more clarity in your focus and thinking.

They Focus Only On Impressing Themselves, NOT others

A golfer that has mental toughness is not playing to impress others. They play to win and beat other players, but it’s to prove what they are capable of to themselves not others. Talk more about ego mindset.
They Are Constantly Learning And Open To Feedback
Champions are confident yet humble enough to know they do not know everything. If they let their Ego dominate and they stop learning, they stagnate and growth stops. Instead they remain curious and journey to mastery never stops.

They Are Constantly Learning And Open To Feedback

Champions are confident yet humble enough to know they do not know everything. If they let their Ego dominate and they stop learning, they stagnate and growth stops. Instead they remain curious and journey to mastery never stops.

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David MacKenzie

is a mental golf coach and lives in Washington DC. He is the founder of Golf State of Mind, a teaching program designed to help golfers condition their minds to overcome fear and play with confidence.

This Post Has 2 Comments

  1. Manny

    Did you miss # 7? I only see 6:
    1. They Act Like A Champion
    2. They Focus Only On What They Can Control
    3. They See The Past ONLY As Training For Future Success
    4. Golfers With Mental Toughness Never Complain
    5. They Are Grateful And Optimistic
    6. They Focus Only On Impressing Themselves, NOT others

    1. David MacKenzie
      David MacKenzie

      Hi Manny, you are right! The 7th one wasn’t copied over from my draft! Good spot and thanks for letting me know! David

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