Mental Toughness For Golf

Mental Toughness Skills Of The US Open Champion

Whether it’s Brian, Justin, Tommy, Patrick or Rickie (or any of those names we see up there on the leader-board) who will lift the US Open trophy this evening, all these guys have one particular skill in abundance.

Mental Toughness for golf. Today, this is what it will ultimately come down to. All of them are capable playing the shots required to get the job done, but who can do it TODAY with so much at stake? That’s the question.

In this article, I’d like to take a look at the Mental Toughness skills needed to win a major such as the US Open and how you can work towards it in your own game. These are skills, so you can get better at them everyday.

1. Self-belief

Look at the names on that leaderboard, and you’ll notice they all have a manner about them which exudes self-assurance and self-belief. They believe they are capable of winning a major championship. They are very comfortable with themselves – they know their strengths and their weaknesses and they are honest about their fears. They appreciate themselves deep down no matter what the result.


Champions have an huge desire to succeed but know that it’s a tough road to achieve it. They love the fight – it brings the best out of them. Teeing it up in those final few groups today will undoubtedly make them nervous, but they see that pressure as a privilege – it’s been earned. Strength comes from the struggle.

3. Work ethic

All the guys in contention today will have put in a lot of work to get where they are. It will have been instilled in them from a young age that success is not given, it’s earned.

4. Acting skills

Champions can act themselves towards confidence. By using body language and self-talk, they can summon feelings of strength and power at will. They know the power of sports psychology.

5. Focus on what you can control

There will be a lot going on out there today outside of a player’s control. Heavy winds are predicted and there always will be some good and bad luck involved in golf. All these players have become skilled in emotionally detaching themselves from things they can’t control such as weather, course conditions, what other players are doing, bad bounces, and most importantly, the past or future. They focus only on what they can control – hitting the best golf shot they possibly can and accepting the outcome.

6. Positive attitude

Every hole is a birdie opportunity.

7. Acceptance

The champion will have to be accepting today. Focusing on the present (as if the past and future don’t exist) will be an essential skill for winning. The champion won’t be burning mental energy on how he wished he’d done this or that, instead, he’ll refocus and get back in the moment.

8. They never stop learning

To get to this point takes a “growth mindset” – champions learn from every round, regardless of the result. Talent and ability is nurtured, it’s not predetermined. Champions are not afraid of failure as it’s a great teacher. They adapt and grow without comparing themselves to others.

9. They know how to relax under pressure and stay present

Champions are able to calm themselves down in the pressure moments. Notice this today. Good breathing, slowing things down, talking to the caddy etc will all be strategies they use to diffuse negative emotions, ease tension and stay calm in pressure situations.

10. Champions have goals (short and long-term)

They have goals. What does success look like for you? Whether it’s winning the US Open or winning the club championship you have to define and imagine it. Dream big and then figure out how you can take a small step towards it this week.

Improving mental toughness for golf

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David MacKenzie

is a mental golf coach and lives in Washington DC. He is the founder of Golf State of Mind, a teaching program designed to help golfers condition their minds to overcome fear and play with confidence.

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