Play Better Golf Under Pressure

The Mental Side of Golf – How to Improve Your Mental Game?

It has long been said that golf is a mental game. Arnold Palmer told us long ago that the game is at least 80% mental. Indeed, most of today’s tour pros see a sports psychologist or “mental game coach”. So if most of us have acknowledged the impact of the mental side of golf on our performance, why have we not figured out a way to learn and improve this area of the game?

Golf has become a game of gimmicks and the “next best thing” to help you find that quick fix and cure your golfing woes. The golf industry places huge emphasis on how the latest equipment will take you to new levels of scoring. But as we are now discovering, these are, for the most part, false promises.

The game has seen huge technological advancement over the past twenty years – we can hit the ball further and, supposedly, have more control over the golf ball than ever. But for some unexplained reason, the average handicap of 16 has not fallen. Despite all the innovation and hype about how much easier the game is with the latest clubs and training aids, our scores have not got better.

Introducing the idea that there might be something else that we can do instead of buying new equipment and taking more lessons is not in the commercial interests of the golf business. Hence we hear very little about it. But evidently, being given the physical tools alone is not enough to lower our scores and increase our enjoyment of the game. We need to try something else.

The Mental Side of Golf

Learning the mental side of golf is now the final frontier for golf improvement. One of the reasons we love golf is one of the reasons we fail to get better. Standing on the first tee with no idea what to expect in the next 4-5 hours is one of the alluring qualities of the game. But the fact that we are out there for such a long time, but actually “playing” the game for about 5% of it, means that our mind set is the biggest factor in our performance. Why is it, with the same golf swing we are capable of shooting 80 one week and 100 the next?

Golf has more ups and downs than most other sports and more time to contemplate them. But this can be changed. If we can develop a consistent mental approach to each round we will play more consistent golf. Being able to control our emotions and get into the right state of mind before we execute a golf shot is the key to good scoring. We need a mental discipline and routine to reduce this inconsistency. This can be achieved through learning the Golf State of Mind.

So how do we begin to practice and improve control of our minds on the golf course? What we need is a method which we can adopt to relax us when we are in between shots, but take us into a state of intense focus when we are executing a shot. Through learning this process and making it sub-conscious, we will get closer and closer to the golf of our potential. If we are able to learn a disciplined shot routine, which allows us to switch into a highly focused awareness mode during each shot, we can achieve the correct mind set for good golf. The Golf State of Mind is about exactly this.

Our new routine will positively force us to analyze, visualize, feel and trust our abilities over each shot. Our practice routine on the range will involve seeing and hitting as many shots as possible to different targets, so that visualization and feel become part of our instinct. Then on the course, all we have to think about is what shot we want to hit without ANY technical thoughts. Negative interference, such as fear of shooting a high score, embarrassing yourself in front of your playing partners and generally not playing up to your own expectations will, overtime, disappear as our routine becomes more automated.

There are no short cuts or gimmicks to developing aptitude for the mental side of golf. However, using the Golf State of Mind as your resource and applying these principles into your game, you will be able to get control of the mental side of your golf game.

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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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