Mental Skills For Golf

The 7 Most Important Mental Skills For Golf

Throughout the years I’ve been coaching golfers how to access their best golf through the mental game, here are the 7 most important mental skills for golf that all my most successful students have in abundance.

1. The ability to focus

Whether you’re playing tournament golf as a professional or an amateur, being able to focus and not let what is going on around you distract you from the task at hand, is one of the most important mental skills for golf.

There are so many variables for each shot, that if you haven’t factored everything in (the lie, slope, wind, carries, etc,) and gone through your full routine of visualizing and committing to every shot, you’re not maximizing your chances of success. This requires focus of your mental energy, which is why it’s perhaps the most important of the mental skills for golf.

2. Commitment

Once you’ve decided on the optimal shot to hit, based on the conditions and how much risk you want to take, it’s all about staying committed to your decision. When you’re not committed, there’s doubt. And when there’s doubt over the ball, you’re not going to make your best swing or stroke. I recommend to my players that they grade each shot out of 10 for how committed they were to it.

3. Staying present

Good (or great) golf is played when the mind is quiet and calm, there’s no thinking about what has preceded, or what will happen next. You let thoughts go – you don’t pay attention to them and give them energy. You’re “in the present”. The players that I’ve worked with that experience “the zone” (and high levels of performance) regularly describe a state of mind that is very in the present moment. When you’re able to stay present and calm, you conserve valuable mental energy for your shot routines.

4. Acceptance

Being able to accept that things are the way they are supposed to be at any moment in time, (and not regret or rehash mistakes) is huge in golf. We all make mistakes on the course – whether you’re Jordan Spieth or a weekend golfer. Being able to accept mistakes and move on is a valuable mental skill for golf.

5. Attitude and mindset

Attitude and mindset is something that can be shaped and improved, which is why I have it on this list of mental skills for golf. How you talk and encourage yourself, how strong your body language is, whether you persevere in the face of adversity and how you respond to challenges are all things that the best players in the world do very well. The good news (if you don’t currently do these things well) is that they are skills that can be developed.

6. Strategy and picking the right shot (Golf I.Q.)

Knowing how the ball will behave in different conditions and the best shot to play in any situation is a valuable mental skill for golf.

For example, knowing how the ball being above your feet will affect the shot, knowing how much spin you will get from different lies around the green, knowing how the air temperature (and wind) will affect the distance the ball travels are all key parts of course strategy and shot selection (also referred to as “Golf I.Q”).

The better you can predict how the ball will behave and pick the right shot, the more shots you’ll save each round.

7. Awareness of your mental skills for golf

Being aware of your mental game, such as: how you’re talking to yourself, whether your staying present, how well you’re committing to shots etc., is about awareness, which is another skill you can develop. All of my students go through a post round review process and score themselves on certain mental game criteria after each round. This makes them more aware of where they’re putting their focus on the course and how it affects their performance. By doing this we can identify what they can do better and refine the process going forward. The result is that they develop their mental skills for golf with every round.

How can you develop your mental skills for golf?

Work with me one on one. If you’d like a free 15 minute consultation to find out how remote mental coaching works, please click this link to book your slot.

Check out the training products.

Over the past 10 years, I’ve put together various training products designed to improve performance. Check out them out by clicking here.

Photo by Pete Sheffield

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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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