One of the things that makes the The Ryder Cup so entertaining is the pressure that we know the players are under to perform. It’s intense and you can tell how much it means to them. The Ryder Cup is considered to be the ultimate pressure cooker in golf (perhaps in all sport) and with so much at stake, it makes it a fantastic spectator sport. One thing’s for sure, the team that wins on Sunday will be the team that is able to handle the pressure of the Ryder Cup.
Francesco Molinari said earlier this week that the pressure of The Ryder Cup easily outweighs the pressure from being in contention at a major championship. So why is this?
Why is the pressure of The Ryder Cup greater than any other competition in golf?
The Ryder Cup is a Team Sport.
In a major or regular PGA Tour event, the only person a player can let down is themselves. In team golf this is not the case. Tour pros spend a lot of time with each other as they travel the world for almost 40 weeks a year. Friendships are formed, invariably between fellow countrymen, who are now team-mates in the most important team game in professional golf. The Ryder Cup is no longer about any individual, it’s about friends and peers, the team, the fans and the country (or continent). No-one wants to let the side down which creates a huge amount of pressure.
So how will the players try to deal with the pressure of The Ryder Cup?
Learning how to calm down, think clearly, and hit shots successfully when the pressure is on, is a skill required to perform at the highest level in any sport. Tour players develop these mental skills for golf over the years and so can you.
Switch on and focus
Imagine what it’s like on the first tee of The Ryder Cup or playing in the last few singles matches. There’s a huge amount of intensity and lots going on around you. But it’s all relative. Whether you’re a Ryder Cup player or a club golfer playing in your local medal, you need to be able to switch on, block everything out and get into the right mindset to play the shot. To do this successfully you’ll need strategies to calm yourself down, and an
effective pre shot routine to focus on.
Let go of the last shot
Le Golf National in Paris is a brutal golf course, and there will be many shots hit into deep rough and water. There’ll be lots of frustration from bad shots. Being able to respond and not react is key to keeping your emotions in check and playing well under the pressure of The Ryder Cup. Use self-talk to “hit the reset button” and remind yourself of the importance of being in the present (you can’t change the past and you can’t completely control the future).
Golf is an emotional game
For as long as you play the game of golf, it will be emotional game. That’s part of why we love it. But your emotions don’t have to drive your behaviors and change your mood. Being able to regulate emotions and recognize which ones you can go with (that can help you play better) and being able to diffuse emotions that are not going to help (anger, disappointment, frustration etc.) is key in golf and life. In a match-play situation, you certainly don’t want your opponent to see you struggling as that will give them a lift. A good demeanor and confident body language will not only lift your mood but show your opponent you are confident.
Next time you’re on the course, use these mental strategies to manage pressure and have it work for you. Enjoy The Ryder Cup!