Expectations

Dealing With Expectations

Golf is a game that is played mostly from within, and for this reason, it is important to know when you are putting too much pressure on yourself to perform. Having too high expectations of yourself is one of the biggest causes of a loss of self confidence and not playing to your potential. But by simply re-framing your mind-set and being more disciplined in your approach, you can easily eliminate this pressure and play better, more enjoyable golf, especially in your tournaments.

Expectation is a self-created pressure we need to eliminate if we want to become better golfers. It demands that we should play in a certain way, and if we don’t, something is wrong, leading to frustration and self-doubt. The general opinion is that expectation and confidence are one in the same thing. If we expect to win a tournament or expect to hit great golf shots, this will increase our confidence. But in fact the opposite is true. Confidence is how much self belief you have in executing a given shot, not trying to continually meet expectations.

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Whether it be your performance relative to your pre-round driving range session, your playing partners or your last round, continuously measuring yourself will you make you frustrated and further remove you from the process needed to execute good golf shots. For example, let’s say your last round was one of your best and you are getting closer to becoming the player you always knew you could be. Then during your next round you find yourself quickly several shots over your new expectation (target) of yourself. Thoughts of “what am I doing wrong?” and “this is not how I know I can play!” will result and you will quickly find yourself becoming frustrated and losing focus over the ball.

The opposite can occur if we are playing better than our expectations. If we go into self-assessment mode and measure our performance vs our expectations, we will feel out of our comfort zone and the result is likely to be a quick retreat back to our usual level of play.

Success in golf is playing each and every shot as best you can. This sounds obvious, but your score is an aggregate of all these individual shots. We need to focus on the execution process of each individual shot (THE PRESENT), not the target of a good score (THE FUTURE). I like to tell my students to focus on the steps of their routine and make that their goal for the round instead of going out there to shoot their best score. As hard as it is to do, mark your score card, but don’t think about your running total. At the end of each hole write down the number of shots that you felt you successfully stuck to your routine. Total these numbers and make this your target for your next round. If you can make this a habit, I’ve no doubt you will start to see the results and get more enjoyment from the game whether you shoot your best score or not.

Believe that your ultimate success in the game relies on being “in the zone” for every shot and making the best decisions you can for the shot at hand. Your best golf will come when you are in the present moment for each shot and truly enjoying the experience of the game.

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Photo by Steve Newton

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David MacKenzie

is a golf coach and golf publisher and lives in Washington DC. He is the founder of Golf State of Mind a teaching program designed to help golfers eliminate negative mental interference and play with confidence.

This Post Has One Comment

  1. Troy Vayanos

    Great article,

    I can definately relate to the part about rounds of golf when you are in front of your handicap and you go into self-assessment mode. It’s almost like you want to start playing bad to bring your score back to your normal level.

    Fortunately now I have mostly overcome this issue but taking each shot and executing one at a time.

    Thanks for sharing

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