Golf Mental Game Tips for Success on the Course
Getting your mindset right prior to playing a round of golf or tournament is one of the most important things you can do to improve your game. Try out these 10 golf mental game tips before you tee it up the next time. I recommend even doing these mental game tips in your car on your way to the course or tournament.
When you’re done reading these 10 mental game tips, be sure to check out the additional articles we linked to as well as our eBook on how to improve your golf mindset and improve your mental toughness on the golf course.
Tip #1: Be Excited You Have an Opportunity to Play Golf Today
Start off getting yourself in the mindset that today is a day to play the game of golf, a game in which you love and cherish every opportunity to play. Whatever the result may be, you will enjoy your round and be thankful God has given you the opportunity to play today’s round. There are some people in the world who never get to experience this game and sport. Do not feel entitled but instead feel appreciative and excited for a new day.
Tip #2: Set Realistic Expectations and Goals
Before you get to the golf course to tee off, ask yourself this question: “What do you want to get out of today’s round of golf?”
I’ll be a bit pessimistic here and tell you that you shouldn’t make your goal about shooting the best score ever or winning your tournament. Setting large goals like this often leads to pressure and disappointment mentally and emotionally.
Instead, you should set “process goals” which are actions you want to achieve each hole. For example, set a goal to hit a green in regulation on the first hole regardless of whether or not your ball starts off in the fairway.
You could start out with your first goal being to hit the ball into the fairway if you want but realize that you don’t have to hit the fairway to be able to hit the green.
It certainly makes the game easier, but I see too many players have the expectation of hitting the fairway and then getting upset and slamming their drivers when they end up in the rough.
As long as you keep the ball in play and land in “good miss” locations, you still have an opportunity to hit a green in regulation and make par.
Tip #3: Proper Nutrition to Boost Performance
I’ve written a detailed article on this subject that I encourage you to read but the basic summary is that your body needs energy to feed of off while you are playing a round of golf.
Consider the fact that the average 18 hole round of golf is about 4-5 miles in distance you are traveling which means you’ll be burning lots of calories (energy) over the 4 hour round. Make sure you are well hydrated to avoid cramping and to keep your muscles fluid.
Also make sure to consume a snack mid round to give you a boost of energy that will help you close out your round at the end rather than break down as I see so many golfers do due to fatigue the final 3 holes.
Tip #4: Scores Do Not Define You as a Person
Those who place pressure on themselves to perform by attaching self-worth to their skill set and performance are playing what’s called “ego golf” and this is the type of golf you want to avoid.
Your scores and golfing ability do not define you as a person. Don’t get caught up thinking that if you play well, people will look at you as a better person. On the reverse end, if you suck today on the golf course, who cares.
It doesn’t mean you suck in real life as well. Golf is just a game so make sure you keep your personal self worth separate of the golfer you are for 4 hours while at the course.
Tip #5: Visualize a Good Round of Golf
Before you play, spend a few minutes visualizing a positive outcome. See yourself hitting some great shots on the course you are about to play. This helps create the mood for success.
Imagine each hole and what club you’ll be pulling out of the golf bag. Picture yourself swinging that club and setting up to the ball for the real shot. Visualize the ball flight as if you are using a pro tracer like the Golf Channel uses on TV when it traces the golf shots of Jordan Spieth and Rory McIlroy.
Visualize the ball landing near the cup and leaving you a tap in birdie putt. By sticking positive thoughts and imagery in your head, your subconscious mind is shaping itself around these thoughts and will help you during your golf swing.
Tip #6: Have a “Go To” Warm Up Routine
When you arrive at the course, have a stretching routine to loosen up your muscles and prevent injury during your round of golf. I usually head to the driving range first and when I get there I set down my clubs and start off with a stretching routine.
After stretching, begin hitting warm up golf shots to get your muscles active and to get used to the feeling of your golf shots. Try to hit shots similar to those you expect to face out on the course.
Simulate your real round as much as possible by hitting driver first and then switching to an iron as if you’re about to hit an approach shot. It doesn’t do a lot of good to beat balls with the same club. Have purpose when you warm up such as simulating a golf round and similar scenarios you expect to face.
Tip #7: Deal With Your First Tee Nerves
When you begin feeling slightly nervous, realize that this is actually a good thing. You never want to be in the extreme end of the spectrum such as super calm or super nervous.
The best place to be is slightly nervous because this activates and increases your focus.
If you begin feeling more nervous and less comfortable, have a trigger you can access that helps calm your nerves such as deep breathes, happy thoughts, and other techniques to take your mind off of golf. Realize it’s just a game.
How you do doesn’t really matter to the bigger picture of life.
Tip #8: Have a Solid Pre-Shot Routine
One of the golden rules of golf is to have a pre-shot routine. This is your go to plan for calming your nerves and focusing your mind on the shot at hand.
Up until the pre-shot routine, your mind is supposed to be switched off of golf so that you aren’t thinking negative thoughts nor thinking about past or future performance.
Once you get to the pre-shot routine, you need a plan or structure that gets your mind ready. It’s a staple of golf you must develop and turn into a habit.
Tip #9: Prepare for the “Time in between” Golf Shots
I mentioned in the tip on pre-shot routine that prior to starting your routine, your mind should be focused elsewhere. This is the time we consider “between golf shots” where you are walking from one shot to the next.
You need to stay in the present during this time frame and avoid letting your mind drift off to past holes you played poorly on.
You also need to avoid thinking into the future such as what scores you need to post on the upcoming holes to shoot your best round or catch up to a competitor.
Some tips to keep your mind away from the negative thoughts and off of golf in general is to have conversation with your playing partners, check out the scenery and let your senses enjoy the smells, visuals, sounds, and feelings of the golf course.
Tip #10: Set Your Mind Up for Bounce Back Opportunities
Before you go out to play, accept that you will make mistakes during your golf round. Nobody plays perfect golf.
Those who aren’t even very good at golf can still score well just as those who are very good at golf can score bad. It all depends on how well you can handle difficult times and adversity that you face on the course.
If you hit a bad shot, forget about it. Don’t let it compound and start affecting your next series of shots.
The negatives that do occur on the golf course, you should view positively because these are good learning lessons that will make you smarter and a better overall player. Every failure is an opportunity to learn and improve.
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