Mindset For Golf

Mental Game Tips: Practice the 3 P’s and become a Resilient Golfer

Resilient golfers are successful golfers. The word success, however, should not be confused or completely equated with shooting a low score. Resilient golfers possess a mindset for golf of certain assumptions or attitudes about themselves and the game. These ideas influence their behavior on and off the course as well as their mental and physical skills. In turn, these behaviors and skills influence this mindset, creating a dynamic process. A resilient golfer feels in control, deals well with stress, communicates effectively, and possesses solid problem solving and decision making skills on the course. He or she establishes realistic goals, learns from both success and failure and plays the game responsibly. A resilient mindset does not free a golfer from stress, pressure or problems on the course, but rather helps him cope with problems as they arise, allowing him to enjoy and learn from all aspects of the game.

The word “mindset” also implies a certain mutability — they are not cast in stone. Once a golfer understands her beliefs and motivations, she can begin replacing counter-productive, self-defeating assumptions with a positive outlook.

Negative Scripts: The Elephant on the Road to Resilience

Have you ever felt negative thoughts on the golf course, and then had poor results for the round? If you answered yes, you are not alone. Most golfers bring a set of negative scripts onto the course with them round after round, with predictable, disappointing results. They are like actors who have rehearsed their lines and cannot deviate from the script. Such a script leads a golfer to go for the green when the shot is clearly beyond his distance or chip with a wedge when she lacks the confidence and skill to do so. For many golfers these negative scripts full of self-defeating thoughts influence most if not all aspects of their game. Positive scripts, on the other hand, occur when we repeat attitudes, beliefs, strategies and behaviors that lead to a good outcome.

Golf provides many examples of negative scripts. For instance, many recreational golfers expect perfection, and by the third flawed hole, they have long since forgotten to enjoy the company and the round. Some individuals remain unaware of their negative scripts, even when it is obvious to other golfers. Some blame their equipment, the weather or a misguided instructor. To develop resiliency or mental toughness for golf, a golfer must first identify his ineffective or self-defeating attitudes. Then he must define new goals, anticipate possible obstacles and select a positive script. Take a minute and consider three negative scripts you bring to the game and the positive scripts you might substitute in their place.

Changing Your Mindset For Golf

Try this simple exercise. Take a piece of paper and draw a line down the center from top to bottom. On the left side list three or more words you would use to describe your thoughts and behaviors on the golf course. Then add three or more words you think fellow golfers and friends would chose to describe you as well. On the right side, list three words you would prefer to use to describe yourself on the golf course and then three or more words you would want friends and fellow golfers to choose. The left side of the page represents your current mindset for golf. The right side of the page represents the resilient mindset for golf that you want to achieve. To get there, you must identify and change your negative scripts and learn from every drive, shot, pitch or putt. You must accept your game and set realistic expectations and goals based on your current skill level. Furthermore, you have to recognize your strengths as well as your vulnerabilities. Remember you play golf in the first place to recreate and have a good time. To become a resilient golfer you should develop effective self-discipline and self-control on the course. Finally and most importantly, your response to mistakes and failures are an integral part of a resilient mindset. Resilient golfers view mistakes as experiences for learning and growth. Of course, no one likes chipping an easy shot into the sand, but resilient golfers are not easily discouraged. Consider how your personal beliefs about mistakes affect your behavior on the course.

Practice the Three P’s

Resilience requires PATIENCE, PERSISTENCE and, most importantly PRACTICE. On the professional level, the differences between scores are as much a reflection of the attitudes and beliefs each golfer brings to the game as a difference in actual ability. A resilient mindset brings enjoyment and consistency to every golfer’s game.

Photo by TourProGolfClubs

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Dr. Sam Goldstein

, Ph.D. is an Assistant Clinical Professor at the University of Utah School of Medicine. He is the Clinical Director of the Neurology, Learning and Behavior Center in Salt lake City, Utah. Dr. Goldstein has authored thirty-five books, three clinical tests, dozens of chapters and peer reviewed research articles. Dr. Goldstein serves as Editor-in-Chief of the Journal of Attention Disorders and is Co-Editor-in-Chief of the Encyclopedia of Child Development and Behavior. He is the developer of the Resilient Golf.

This Post Has 4 Comments

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    Mark Everhart

    Dr. Goldstein,
    I enjoyed your article, very thought provoking. I have a question concerning the exercise listing what we see and desire to see. Where does one go with the list or is it an exercise in self awareness only?
    Thanks, Mark

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    Lars Melander

    Great article. Attitude makes a huge difference time and time again. We all need to remember those less fortunate if we think we are having problems on the golf course. Keep things in perspective and you will play better. Guaranteed!

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    lucas castañon

    true, resilience is the most importan cuality in life, golf. . . . everything, everybody in fact, pass bad moments in life and resilience is her girl-friend in the earth

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    Troy Vayanos

    Great post,

    Without doubt the ability to keep moving forward when one encounters an obstacle is massively important. Staying focused and just learning to deal with the set backs and only view them as temporary.


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