How To Play Your Best Golf By Not Thinking About Your Score

Time Travel – do you think it is possible today?

When I ask this question of those I coach the majority tell me it is not. Some tell me it is.

For those who say no, I then ask if time travel is not possible why is it such a challenge to stay in the present?

I’m often then met with a rather quizzical expression.

WHAT is the present in your world and HOW do you anchor yourself to something if you struggle to define it?


The body can not travel in time but your conscious mind can and it does in an instant. This occurs naturally from the moment you become conscious in the morning, before you open your eyes. “What day is it and where do I need to be?” So it begins. For the rest of your waking day, your consciousness will drift between past, present and future. It is often a lack of control and awareness of conscious mind which leads to many living lives with depression and anxiety disorders. Neither of these symptoms exist in the present. So being present is NOT a natural state of mind. It requires ATTENTION and a great deal of deliberate practice.

What is the present in relation to playing a golf shot? Why do so many advise you to ‘be present’ in order for you to play your best golf? You can perform many other complex life tasks like riding bicycles, playing musical instruments and driving motor vehicles, where your life and that of others is at risk, with little regard for TRYING to be present? In fact, your conscious mind is often actively engaged in many thoughts whilst performing EXCEPT the act of trying to control your physical actions. Take a closer look at how you are learning, practicing and trying to play golf. Conscious control of your actions flies in the face of skills mastery and HOW can you trust in competition that which you forever doubt in your practice? Are you ever present?

How many times have you tried to play golf with little attention to your score? It’s no co-incidence that many great front nines turn into poor back nines, as you projected yourself into the clubhouse with a record score. Neither is it co-incidence that after a poor front nine, you often have a great back nine. This usually occurs when you’ve given up counting your numbers. Just because the game is quantified by the numbers on a card, being emotionally influenced by them leaves you very vulnerable to being anywhere else other than present.

If you walk around the golf course, as I used to do, forlornly trying to control your shot outcomes and/or golf swing and then engaging in frequent self deprecation at your inability to do so, you’ll soon recognise that being ‘present’ is the last thing on your mind. Golf is a game which deserves so much respect. Not only in the challenge it presents but in understanding and developing your self awareness and attention focus skills.

Developing the skills required to play golf (external focus) are very different to those required to learn how to swing golf clubs (internal focus). If you wonder why your great range practice never seems to make it around 18 holes, you should stop looking at how you play and begin to seriously look at the way you practice. If you continue to practice on an emotional millpond, do not be surprised when you capsize in a storm out at sea.

Just remember who it was that created the storm.

Regardless of your status as a golfer, maintain perspective. Golf is a game, not life and death. Go and play it. Protect your peace bubble as you walk around the course. You’ll discover your best golf will manifest itself.

Focus on your target and let the outcome look after it self. One is the present, one the future. You choose.


Photo by Keith Aliison

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Colin Cromack

is the creator of Target Oriented Golf, an independently produced applied golf psychology coaching program. He specialises in the brain function of Attentional Focus. This lies at the heart of skills acquisition (how we learn) and psychology (how we perform). His work is supported by the very latest academic research. He is a PGA UK recognised Coaching Specialist and presents his work to PGA coaches, Pro players and dedicated amateurs.

This Post Has 3 Comments

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    Larry Thrush

    Pretty enteresting,thats how I usually I play. But when I play my best is when I go out and enjoy myself and don’t worry about the out come or my score so much.

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    hi colin, thanks for this video i think its one of the best mental game video,s i have ever seen. i have taken a ride on that emotional rolercoaster and it make,s you fill sick, i am going to start playing your way cheers andy.

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    John Michael Saraceno

    Excellent…Well Done and Spot On!!! As a Golf Educator you must stay even tempered not getting to high or getting too low…

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