Winning Mindset For Golf

Developing A Winning Mindset For Golf

Developing a winning mindset for golf should be a fundamental part of your game improvement plan. In fact, identifying a student’s current “Mindset” is the first area we cover in my mental coaching program for a very good reason – because it’s the single most important factor in their overall success. But firstly, what is mindset?

Your mindset:

  • Is your automatic way of thinking which determines your behaviors and habits
  • Is how you perceive yourself and your standing with others
  • Is how you make sense of every situation and deal with challenges you are faced with
  • Determines how you see yourself as a player, the shot you are facing, and how you respond to what happens in your rounds
  • Will affect your long-term success

Stanford Professor, Carol Dweck, an expert on Mindset, defines it as:

“A self-perception or “self-theory” that people hold about themselves. Believing that you are either “intelligent” or “unintelligent” is a simple example of a mindset.”

Professor Carol Dweck’s studies (documented in her book: “Mindset: The New Psychology of Success”) show us that those people who have longer, more successful careers in any field share the same type of “Growth Mindset”. Those that fail to reach their full potential do so, because they have more of a “Fixed Mindset”.

Do you have any of these limiting beliefs of a “Fixed Mindset”?

That you’re born with your talents

The fundamental underlying belief of someone with a Fixed Mindset is that their success and ability is predetermined and limited simply by who they are, and they are powerless to change it.

The result is the most important thing

Those with a Fixed Mindset have a short-term view of success, because the result they get on that day defines their current ability level. They miss out on valuable learning opportunities to improve as they aren’t able to look deeper, beyond the result, to get an honest inventory of their game and what they need to improve.

Your scores reflect who you are as a person

Because they believe that ability is just part of their DNA and who they are, those with a Fixed Mindset struggle to separate themselves from their results. They take bad performances personally, and good results lead to overconfidence and high expectations.

You compare yourself to other players

Because of their inclination to equate results with ability level, those with a Fixed Mindset are keen to compare themselves to other players, which will result in feeling superior or inferior, neither of which are helpful to the long-term growth of the player.

You play with fear of making mistakes

Because results reflect how they perceive themselves and how they look to others, those with a Fixed Mindset play with a lot of pressure to succeed and not fail, or make mistakes. When mistakes inevitably happen, they struggle to cope because of the pressure they have on them and what those mistakes say about their game. Because they are unable to look at their weaknesses, they don’t develop coping skills, which is essential for mental toughness. Hence they shy away from challenges that might threaten their perception of themselves and from others.

You are often delusional about how good you really are

Because they neglect to look at their weakness or can’t be honest with themselves about bad rounds, people with a Fixed Mindset have a false sense of competence, which can get shattered easily when things aren’t going well.

You are unmotivated to put in effort towards getting better

Because they have little belief in their power to control change in their skill level, Fixed Mindset players aren’t motivated to practice hard. When they do practice, they invariably practice the things they are good at (which satisfies their ego) and they avoid those areas that they struggle with.


Those players who go ultimately achieve greater success have a winning mindset for golf, because they:

  • Believe that talent and skills are learned and developed over time
  • Have a longer-term view of success
  • Have a predisposition towards learning (about their craft and themselves) rather than the results
  • Embrace challenges as a win-win (success or learn)
  • Are more motivated to work on their game, especially their weaknesses
  • Are more in touch with their values and purpose
  • Are more accepting of failure and mistakes (it’s how they learn)
  • Are their own measure of success, not comparisons with other players
  • Stay humble no matter how successful they become
  • Are happy to get feedback and can take criticism objectively

How to develop a winning golf mindset daily

Identifying a player’s current Mindset is the first thing I cover in my mental game training program and one on one sessions. Your mindset is the underlying force behind what you think about, what you focus on and how you deal with pressure, and hence, how successful you become. The good news is that a winning mindset for golf can shaped and evolved with ongoing self-awareness and daily exercises. A great way to start this process is to use my mental game scorecard, which will you can download by clicking the link below:

Get your FREE Mental Game Scorecard

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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