Mental Process Golf

Focus On The Journey and You’ll Get To Your Destination

As a society we become results focused early on in our lives. Scores and results become our measure of success. At school we’re measured by our grades, in our careers it’s typically the amount of money we make. In golf, it’s the number that totals your score for 18 holes that matters, and for a lot of us, that determines how much pleasure we get from it. But is this constant desire for results a good thing? I don’t think it is and in this article I’d like to show you a better and more effective approach to reaching your goals…

As technology makes processes happen faster and faster in the modern world, most of us are guilty of becoming a little impatient and that need for things to happen quickly is increasing. We’re becoming wired to being very forward looking, at the sacrifice of the present moment. We want the destination without the journey.

Golfers have always been a little weak when it comes to seeking quick fixes and gimmicky products in an attempt to get closer to lower scores faster, but it’s ironic how ineffective those quick fixes are.

From my experience as a mental coach and teaching players of all levels for many years – the most effective way to achieve a result is not to focus on it, but it’s to break it down into the processes that are required to get there and make that the focus. Faith in a really good process, can give you the confidence and eliminate the pressure that seeking results puts on us to perform.

Focusing on a good process has so many benefits…

1. Staying in the present

For most of us the game of golf is purely a leisure pursuit, to be enjoyed whatever the outcome.

For that reason, we need to learn how to be present at all times, giving every moment we are playing our full attention, not constantly thinking about the end goal or what’s coming next. When process becomes the goal, a player can engage more deeply with the present and get a richer experience.

2. Your focus is shifted to something that is 100% within your control

No one in the history of the game has been able to say with 100% certainty that they will hit a specific target or shoot a specific score, for the most part it’s out of your control. But you can heavily influence it with a good process…

When your focus is constantly on outcome and results, each shot is measured by how it relates to that overall goal. Hit the ball out of bounds and that might seriously damage your chances of shooting a good score = frustration. The game becomes a roller coaster ride which is not a good way to play.

Golf is best played from a state of moderate emotional arousal. That means that you have a little nervous energy which increases your focus and competitive spirit vs when you are practicing. When you’re outcome focused and affected by where the ball lands, you’re setting yourself up for high emotional arousal and performance anxiety = tension in the muscles and bad swings.

Let’s say you’ve set the target of shooting your best score or breaking 80 for the first time and you score a triple bogey on the first. What’s that going to do for your confidence and enjoyment? However, if your success is measured by how well you stuck to your process, it takes the pressure and expectation off and allows you to swing freely and accept the outcome whatever.

Focusing on the process put you in control – it makes you feel empowered and confident. Not necessarily confident that you are going to hit the ball where you desire, but confidence you are on the right path to becoming a mastery golfer. Whatever the outcome, if you stick to your process, it’s a successful shot – imagine how much pressure that will take away!

The problem in golf is that results are easier to measure and evaluate than process, so that’s where the focus drifts. We need to good measure and the proper goals for each round.

How to measure The Process

The Circle Game

If you felt like you “followed your process” for an entire hole, give yourself a circle on the scorecard around the hole number. The goal is to get to 18 circles. That’s going to become your measure of success.

Set process goals and have a constant reminder

Next time you go out to play, have 3-4 process goals written on a scorecard and make those the goals for your round – not score.

What is the perfect process for you?

If you’d like to discuss a mental game process (blue-print) or a better way to practice, you can do so via a one-on-one phone or Skype session and for the rest of June, you can get your first session at half off, making it just $30.

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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.

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