If you’ve ever wondered what type of golfer consistently comes out ahead under the pressure of tournament play, it’s not the one with best ability, it’s the one with the best attitude. In golf, attitude is truly everything. Think about this for a moment. The player who can roll with the punches of the game, hit a couple of bogies and still come back with a “can-do” attitude will have a much better opportunity to birdie the next hole than the player who moves on, nursing his wounded ego as he goes. Look at the results from the recent U.S. Open and then let’s talk about tough golf and the need to be mentally strong.
A true testing ground for all who qualify, your success or failure in the process depends on one thing. From a GolfWeek article, David Toms states that it’s attitude — “Attitude…is all about a choice. You can get to a U.S. Open and let it beat you up, complain about it, talk about all the bad pins and the unfair bounces … but everybody has to play. In the end, everyone plays the same golf course. So you just have to learn to handle it.” How well do you handle it? If you tend to leave the course after a tough round feeling like your confidence has been shattered, you need to take a look a three facts you may be ignoring, thus making the game more challenging that it needs to be.
Your Play is a Direct Reflection of Your Practice – What are you practicing?
If you could be described as a socialite, grinder, or “go-with-the-flow” type on the practice range, then chances are you are not doing what it takes to be mentally tough on the course, especially under pressure. In order to develop a resilient mindset, you must apply yourself to the task every time you have a club in your hands. That means never practicing or playing without a purpose, maintaining consistent pre- and post-shot mental and physical routines that enable you to achieve a trusting mindset, and developing a consistent swing that you can play with when it counts. Practice should never be just about going through the motions. Play with intention — the intention of playing great golf.
Golf is a Game of Ups and Downs – How are you preparing to play through the poor shots?
You spend hours upon hours working on the physical side of the game. If golf is considered 90% mental, then doesn’t it make sense that you should spend the majority of your time developing your mental skills? The serious golfers do. Such dedication doesn’t result in 18 holes of perfect shots. What it does provide is the ability to compete on any given day with what you’ve got. And sometimes that means less than ideal shots. In order to accomplish this task you’ve got to do three things — play within your game, establish realistic and attainable expectations of play, and be willing to maintain a positive outlook even when everything is going wrong, just like Arnold Palmer, who said, “I’ve always made a total effort, even when the odds seemed entirely against me. I never quit trying; I never felt that I didn’t have a chance to win.”
The Best Way to Achieve Success Is to Expect It – How often do you expect to hit a solid shot?
Are you the type of player who is often smiling while playing golf? If not, you need to think about what you are allowing to steal your joy when you are on the course. Passion is an important ingredient to achieving success in any endeavor, and my guess is that you first started playing golf because you found enjoyment in the game. This is something that Matt Kuchar plays with – “…he mentally paints the image of what he wants (which many golfers do), but he also feels the joy, love, peace, and gratitude that comes with succeeding in the task – before it happens.” The point is that he expects success, and doesn’t wait for his performance to prove to him that he is capable of achieving success. Imagine how an expectation of success one shot at time could transform your game.
Remember that you’ve got to create your wins. When it comes to your game, ask yourself if you are consistently playing with a winner’s attitude. Being positive and proactive during play, rather than emotionally reactive will enable you to maintain high level focus, self-talk that will direct the outcomes you desire, and the ability to easily bounce back after an errant shot. How you approach the game is a choice you make every time you put on your golf shoes. So make sure that you are choosing the attitude that will set you up to succeed. If you have specific questions about your game, I would be happy to talk to you. Just give me a call today at 239.431.6810 so you can discover the simple formula to PLAY GREAT!
I hear what you are saying but I constantly ruin my game by going from a really positive and good couple of opening holes, to a trip down the emotional mineshaft of bad shots, anger and frustration,…usually bought about by one really bad shot… result = I miss out on the very reason I play,…. the beauty of the course, the open spaces, the freedom to play in a relaxed manner, I find it so hard to keep my frustration in check and not have it ruin my day.
Tony, Thank you for your comment. The inconsistency you describe is not uncommon but is a sign that you are likely missing good mental game structure around your shots. To stay steady mentally and emotionally during a round it’s important that you play with consistent mental pre- and post-shot routines. Good routines are the calm in the storm, the processes that keep you on track through the ups and downs of the game, and that enable you to effectively manage your game instead of trying to micromanage it. Good routines keep your mind occupied with the right things so that you minimize the distractions that can come from within (self-doubt, fear of failure, nerves) and outside of you (pace of play, hazards, score, playing partners). And when you feel ill-equipped to play with consistency it is easy to lose control over your emotional reactions to the unexpected and disappointing things that can happen. Consider how you are being led by your thoughts when hitting well versus when you are not hitting well. Is there a difference in where your thoughts are directing you? My guess is yes. Learning the strategies that give you the power to be the director of your thoughts rather than the victim of them is going to help you achieve greater consistency from tee to green, especially under pressure. If you are interested in learning more about how mental game training can transform your game, I invite you to schedule a free consult call with me by visiting – https://drshannonreece.wufoo.com/forms/top-new-client-intake-form-sport/ I look forward to speaking with you!