Golf confidence is a regular topic of conversation with my audience. Most golfers ask me how they can regain their golf confidence after a handful of bad shots or holes. What they tell me they’ve lost is that good feeling they had when they were playing well.
While playing well does make us feel good, confidence is not an emotion, it’s a belief. And because it’s a belief, it’s something that you’re in charge of, not a by product of your performance. That being said, you can reinforce your golf confidence when you play well.
How Golf Confidence Really Works
I’d like you to understand that because confidence derives from your thoughts about yourself you can teach yourself how to think confidently with consistency. Like any other skill it just takes regular practice.
When you choose to believe in yourself despite imperfect swing mechanics you will always hit better shots than if you choose not to believe in yourself because of your imperfect swing mechanics.
Establishing a consistent thought habit to believe in yourself at all times and under all circumstances will help you play at your best no matter how challenging the round. That doesn’t guarantee you the lowest scores every round. But choosing to play with golf confidence will equip you to get the most out of what you’ve got in the bag for the day.
To boost your golf confidence I wanted to share some of my favorite quotes and why you should begin aligning your thoughts with the best golfers and thinkers of all time.
“Believe you can and you’re halfway there.” ~ Theodore Roosevelt
To position yourself for success you must first believe that success is possible. This creates a positive self-fulfilling prophecy. What you tend to believe (about yourself or your situation) will become your reality.
“Sometimes the biggest problem is in your head. You’ve got to believe.” ~ Jack Nicklaus
At the first sign of trouble do you start examining your swing mechanics instead of the guiding force behind them? Pay close attention to your thought habits during a round. Confident thoughts will help you produce more solid shots than negative or technically focused thoughts ever will.
“When you have confidence, you can have a lot of fun. And when you have fun, you can do amazing things.” ~ Joe Namath
How often are you really having fun on the golf course? I hope your answer is all of the time. But if not, what’s the point of playing if golf isn’t something you regularly enjoy? Playing with confident thoughts will keep challenges in perspective, focus your attention on leveraging the strengths in your bag, and help you feel as though nothing can stand between you and your target. Make a point of keeping the game a game.
“Confidence in golf is being able to concentrate on the problem at hand with no outside interference.” ~ Tom Watson
Most of my work with golfers of all levels centers around helping them become aware of and less susceptible to the interference they produce from within, as well as external interference. You’ve got room for one voice in your head so don’t crowd your thoughts with the comments, expectations, and tips of others.
“High expectations are the key to everything.” ~ Sam Walton
As I recently explained in an article about expectations most golfers set the bar too low, not too high. That’s why I love this quote from Sam Walton. You must see yourself as a successful golfer if you ever wish to play like one. Setting your expectations around lofty, but attainable goals helps you play with a much more powerful mindset than if you were to always play to avoid failing. Reaching for big things in your game will open the door to growth that thinking small never will. If your goals aren’t a bit scary then they aren’t big enough.
“Believe in yourself and have faith in your abilities. Without a humble but reasonable confidence in your own powers, you cannot be successful or happy.” ~ Norman Vincent Peale
You must believe that you know how to find a solution to any challenge because you do. No matter how long you’ve been playing, you possess enough understanding of the game, enough experience playing it, and enough intelligence and imagination to come up with a plan. Never doubt or second guess your capabilities in the middle of a round. Every time you play you have an opportunity to learn and grow, so stop trying to be perfect.
“When you have a lot of confidence and you feel like nobody can beat you it’s game over for everyone else.” ~ Jason Day
I don’t know that most golfers realize that how they carry themselves has a big impact on those around them. While I believe that your competition is the course and not other golfers, believing you are equipped to beat the course will show in how you make decisions, walk, and talk. Nothing’s quite as intimidating to others than a golfer who looks incredibly comfortable in her skin and is unflappable. Whether your last shot was great or a disappointment never let those around you see the difference because of the confidence you consistently wear.
“A belief system is nothing more than a thought you’ve thought over and over again.” ~ Wayne W. Dyer
Consistency with golf confidence is king. Your confidence will never hold up under pressure if you get lax in your pursuit of it. It is meant to be a constant in your game, not a variable, so treat it that way. Whether you play with a winning “go” statement like, “I’ve got this!” before every shot or you repeat positive affirmations to yourself throughout a round, do whatever it takes to keep your thoughts on track.
“I smile at obstacles.” ~ Tiger Woods
I smiled when I read this quote and am hoping you did too. What a great way to approach any perceived obstacle in life or golf. When was the last time you smiled when you found your ball plugged in a bunker, stuck behind a tree, or sitting in a fairway divot? If this isn’t how you roll then perhaps it’s time to try a different tactic. When you choose to believe that there isn’t a single shot on a single hole on a single course on this planet you can’t play well great things will begin to happen.
“When you doubt your power, you give power to your doubt.” ~ Unknown
You are in charge of your thoughts, your perspective, and your imagination. When you have all that power at your disposal there’s no reason to ever open the door to doubt. Your thought habits will always be the result of what you feed your mind. If you want to play with confidence, then you must be persistent in thinking confident thoughts.
“Sooner or later, those who win are those who think they can.” ~ Paul Tournier
No golfer wins every round, not even on the PGA Tour. But those who rise to the top each week certainly believe they can. Their belief isn’t based on the level of the others in the field. Their belief is grounded in the knowledge of their game and what they’ve worked hard to develop. If you ever hope to be in contention for a win whether in your weekly group or the club championship you must believe you are already equipped to play at a high level before you even start the round.
“I always think under par. You have to believe in yourself.” ~ Sergio Garcia
While thinking “under par” might be a stretch for you, you do want to make sure that you are thinking appropriately for your game. There’s a significant difference between playing offensively and defensively. A defensive perspective, one driven by low golf confidence, might motivate you to try to press hard for birdies and do your best to avoid bogies or worse. Whereas an offensive perspective, one driven by good golf confidence, might motivate you to play for easy pars and to capitalize on any birdie opportunities that present themselves. One perspective will produce a lot of tension during your round while the alternative will allow you to play with much more freedom.
“The height of your success is determined by the depth of your belief.” ~ Zig Ziglar
How deeply do you believe in yourself? I’ve worked with plenty of golfers who say one thing but demonstrate something else. If you say that you believe you can play at a certain level but get uncomfortable when you find yourself playing at that level then your belief is not as deep as you think it is. When your golf confidence matches the level of play you’re working hard to maintain, when you begin playing well you should feel like you are in your sweet spot rather than wondering how long it will last.
“I believe in positive thinking. Believing in yourself.” ~ Annika Sorenstam
I love that Annika made a point to train herself to respond to unexpected and potentially disappointing situations on the course a very specific way — she taught herself to laugh at them. What better way to stay in the power seat of your game than to laugh in the face of what might cripple average thinkers. Your perspective is a skill like any other. Train yourself to never see obstacles in your path, only opportunities.
“Confidence is a characteristic of a positive attitude. The greatest achievers and leaders remain confident regardless of circumstances.” ~ John Maxwell
Golf confidence must be built on facts. Golfers run into problems is when they aren’t in the habit of tracking the right facts. Most players keep a running tally of good shots to bad ones. If this sounds familiar I would ask you to consider how retaining memories of your misses or a ratio of good shots to bad is adding anything to your perspective. Only track your wins and you will establish a firm foundation for golf confidence that cannot be undermined by a bad shot, string of bad holes, or poor round.
“There’s nobody more confident here than me.” ~ Brooks Koepka
Week after week the golfers who are rising to the top of professional events aren’t the ones with the best technique. By far they are the ones with the most confidence in what they have. Your goal should be to outthink anyone else with whom you play, not to have a better swing. Your swing will always be imperfect no matter how hard you work on it. Your golf mindset and confidence will provide you with more consistent results than anything else.
“You must expect great things of yourself before you can do them.” ~ Michael Jordan
Make a point of pursuing success rather than trying to avoid failure. It’s as simple as stepping up to your next shot with only a good shot in mind. Golfers run into trouble when they allow themselves to worry about what could go wrong. It’s a waste of mental and physical energy to contemplate a miss and it’s completely opposite of what you actually want to do, so don’t go there.
“Golf is a matter of confidence. If you think you cannot do it, there’s no chance you will.” ~ Henry Cotton
Golf confidence must start on the inside before it can work its way out through your swing. To swing with confidence you must first be confident in yourself and your swing. Police your thoughts before you execute any shot and make sure that you are 100% confident that your shot will be good. Anything short of 100% confidence will show up in the delivery of your swing, possibly producing a big miss. Hold your confidence standards high and steady.
“Confidence comes naturally with success. But success comes only to those who are confident.” ~ Unknown
It’s easy to feel good about your game and yourself when you’re playing well. But the true test of your golf confidence is how steady it remains when you aren’t. Never give into your emotions or give up on yourself during a round. Stay the course by maintaining a solid belief in your ability to play the game no matter what type of results you’re getting. Your staying power is the real measure of your success as a player.
“I am the greatest, I said that even before I knew I was.” ~ Muhammad Ali
I saved the best for last from one of the greatest and most mentally tough athletes who ever lived. I don’t see Ali as someone who was narcissistic, but as a man who had a clear vision of who he was inside. Your golf confidence will always be a product of how you honestly see yourself as a golfer. When I hear golfers saying things like, “He’s a really good golfer…” I have to ask, “Aren’t you a really good golfer too?” Don’t limit your perspective because you’re measuring yourself with someone else’s yardstick. Measure your game using your own and you’ll begin to see just how far you’ve come. In order to grow you must have a picture of the type of golfer you aspire to be. Then start claiming that vision as your current reality. You will never find success if you can’t already see yourself as a “great golfer” in your own eyes. And that perspective is the only one that matters.
I hope you enjoyed this post. If you have a favorite confidence inspiring quote I’d love it if you’d share it in the comments below.
If you’re struggling with your golf confidence I can help.
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