You take the time to make sure you have everything you could physically need before you head out the door to play golf. But how often do you plan to take the right things in order to play with a great golf mindset? Your mental game is what drives your physical game, therefore it’s essential to prepare to play with a great mindset in order to get the most out of your round. In this article I share the 5 mental game tools every golfer should have in the bag.
What’s In Your Bag?
Most golfers prepare the following checklist items to manage the needs they may have on the physical side of their game –
- Nutritional needs – water and electrolytes to stay hydrated, and protein bars or snacks to maintain energy levels
- Clothing needs – comfortable golf shoes, golf gloves, a hat or visor, cool or warm clothing, and gear for changing weather conditions
- Equipment needs – well-fit clubs that are clean, well-maintained and ready to use, and plenty of golf balls and tees, a ball marker and divot repair tool
- Course management needs – a range finder, and yardage book
- Eye and skin care needs – good sunglasses, sun protection, lip balm, and/or bug repellant
Perhaps there are other essentials you make sure you pack in your bag. Regardless of what’s on your list, there are plenty of basic necessities every golfer needs to be physically well-outfitted to play.
And while all these items are important to have with you, the most important items are mental tools that you cannot see. More and more we hear from the golf commentators and top players on Tour that the one thing you can’t play well without is a great golf mindset.
Your Essential Mental Game Tool Kit
The good news is that the list of basic mental game essentials is much shorter than the physical accouterments. But the top 5 mental game tools every golfer should have in their bag require as much, and oftentimes more, time and energy to develop to play at your best more regularly. And I’ll briefly explain why as I list them below.Discover the 5 mental game tools every golfer should have in the bag. #golf #golfmindset #golftips #golfmentalgame Click To Tweet
Mental Game Tool #1 – High Expectations
Why high expectations? Because most of my golf clients are notorious for setting the bar too low, which is a sign of playing with a defensive mindset. But setting high expectations is not the same thing as striving for perfection. What you want to do is reach for and expect to hit a good shot every time, no matter how your round has unfolded up to this point.
Most golfers strive for average or “avoiding trouble” with a safe shot, especially when things have been a bit challenging. Finding the courage and developing the freedom gained through implicit trust in your swing takes time to develop. There are often a lot of limiting beliefs and dents in a golfer’s self-image that cause them to play with tension, self-doubt, and too much force. This makes it difficult for them to set their expectations on consistently playing at their very best. These are the type of mental roadblocks we systematically dismantle in my training programs.
Mental Game Tool #2 – A Winner’s Attitude
You might be thinking, “Duh!” but there’s a big difference between playing with a winner’s attitude and an average attitude. A winner’s attitude unlocks your ability to play with an “A” game every round. If you’re like most golfers, you may feel as though some days you have a “B” or “C+” game in the bag. But with a winner’s attitude a golfer can take whatever version of their game they have in the bag and leverage the crap out of it.
On every professional tour the golfers who are winning don’t typically have perfect technique. But week after week the ones who land on top are those who consistently play with the best attitude. A winner’s attitude enables you to maintain a mindset that you have everything you need in the bag to get the job done. Period. But winner’s attitudes don’t just evolve organically for those who happen to have more good rounds than bad. Winner’s attitudes are planted, watered, and fed constantly so that they hold up under pressure. You can play with as much of a winner’s attitude as a tour player, you just have to put in the time to cultivate it.
Mental Game Tool #3 – A Scholarly Inner Caddy
We all have a little, sometimes loud and bossy, voice inside our head that is constantly delivering commentary during our waking hours. In golf, I like to refer to this voice as your Inner Caddy. But there are two versions of it — a scholarly one and a critical one. The critical voice of the Inner Caddy is what most golfers willingly let loose on the course not recognizing the damage it’s doing. Constantly picking apart, questioning, and diminishing your game is a terrible way to play.
Since you are the author of your thoughts, you do have absolute control over them. Therefore, you can learn how to defer to the scholarly side of your Inner Caddy. This version enhances your golf experience because it facilitates an objective study of your game while you play. The scholarly Inner Caddy remains purposely focused on what’s going well, and how to keep doing more of that. It also helps you identify the valuable lessons that come from failure so that you can finish a round stronger than you started. Like your other mental game tools, training your scholarly Inner Caddy to be the singular voice in your head requires you to develop your self-awareness and self-management.
Mental Game Tool #4 – Present-Centered Focus
Your mental power, which drives your physical game, lies only in the present. There is no value in dragging the past around with you or getting too far ahead of yourself speculating or worrying about the future. Being able to lock your attention on the present alone takes high self-awareness of any drift first, followed by good self-management strategies to pull your focus back to your next shot.
For this particular tool to really work for you it’s important that you pay particular attention to what is currently drawing your focus. You never lose your focus during a round. You are always focused on something. What you need track is where your attention is pointed at any given moment, especially when you are over the ball.
Mental Game Tool #5 – Effective Mental Pre- and Post-Shot Routines
Last, but actually the most important tools in your bag are your routines that keep your mind on track before and after every shot. Of the two, I find that most golfers have no idea what a post-shot routine is, but claim to play with a pre-shot routine most of the time.
There’s a big difference between a pre-shot routine that is a set of physical things you do before a shot and the important, repeatable steps that you want to march your mind through before you hit. Most golfers’ pre-shot routine is nothing more than going through the motions and does not provide a process that disciplines their thought habits.
Your routines are the tools that drive your consistency from tee to green, on good days and bad, during friendly rounds and competitive events. Your routines build a foundation of trust in your game. Without effective routines you will never experience what it’s like to play your best golf. Tools 1-4 support the sanctity of your routines, and are therefore essential to the complete success formula.
Please leave me a comment below and tell me which mental game tool you think is most important to your golf success.
While these mental game tools make my list of the top 5 you always want to keep in your golf bag, there are more. Just like you have an assortment of shots you can play, there are a number of golf mental game tools that you can use to unlock your best rounds when you learn how to deploy them.
On average, my clients lower their handicaps by 3-5 strokes in the short-term, with even more significant and lasting improvement long-term. If you’d like to discover how mental game training can radically transform your game, whether you’re a high handicapper or single digit golfer, I invite you to book a free consult call with me. CLICK HERE to get started.
Paul Abbey says
As usual excellent stuff Shannon!
Thanks, Paul! I’m happy to know you found the post of value. 🙂 Hope all is well with your game. Email me an update sometime soon.
Terri Gilchrist says
The repeatability of what you teach will never get old. It continues to
build on the foundation we laid over a year ago and constantly reminds me of the basics that keep me on track.
Terri, Thanks so much for the great compliment! I appreciate knowing that you’re finding the content helpful and that it supports what you’ve learned in our time together. Keep up the great commitment to your mental game. I’m proud of you!