One of the most important assets that a fine golfer can possess is having a strong mental game. Golfers come face to face with adversity in every round they play. Having a strong mental game is what separates players in their ability to deal with adversity and maximize their score.
Many books have been written on how to improve your mental game. In this newsletter, I will discuss what I consider to be the biggest enigma in golf. I am also going to give you one of my favorite tools for developing good mental habits. These mental habits are just as important to practice as your swing habits on the range.
One of the most interesting things about golf to me is that most players are focused too often on both where their ball goes and their score during a round of golf. This normally results in their mental attitude being shaped by performance. The problem with this dynamic is that the player gives up control of his thoughts and emotions during a round of golf. This leads to widely varying results.
One paradigm that is important to realize is that golfers have control over one thing on the course – namely, what happens up until the ball is hit with the club. This includes the mental keys, the swing keys, the shot selection, swing selection and the rest of the preshot routine. After that, the golfer becomes a spectator along with everyone else.
The enigma to me is that many players focus on what they cannot control rather than what they can control. Players cannot control where the ball goes but they can control everything that happens up until the ball is struck.
Allowing performance to dictate thoughts and emotions is an easy trap to fall into. I believe it takes a certain mental toughness to stay focused on controlling your thoughts on the course in the face of differing results.
One of my favorite tools for making sure that I maintain discipline on the course for a strong mental game is a simple card. I have seven of my favorite thoughts written on the card. Here are two examples:
“I focus on process and detach emotionally from results.”
“I always have good self talk on the course.”
The most important thing I do with this card is to pick two of the seven thoughts BEFORE I hit a single shot on the range before the round. This way I am controlling my thoughts from the start rather than allowing the ball flight to control my thoughts. I also make sure I focus on these two thoughts for the entire day.
As I mentioned before, it takes a certain mental toughness to use this approach. Most PGA Tour players give credit to focusing much more on the process rather than the outcome to help them shoot their lowest scores. I hope this benefits you also.