It’s funny how we associate pressure differently during practice rounds as compared to during competition rounds of golf.
If you zoom out and look at things in a wide perspective, you are a human being, stepping onto a golf course (land & grass) and swinging a golf club to hit a little white ball.
Whether we do it today, tomorrow, next week, it’s still the same action. So why do we put pressure on ourselves certain days (competition days) and not others (practice days)?
Maybe it has to do with the stakes at hand. We give higher value to competition days and we don’t give much value or meaning to practice days.
Taking this concept, we can improve our ability to handle golf under pressure by trying to normalize competition days and make them feel routine and boring, like we do with our practice days.
Once you can get to a point where your competition days feel like just another day of golf, and you aren’t giving them high value and importance mentally, this can help you remain more calm and balanced.
It’s a hard mentality to grasp and dial in, but this will be key to helping you feel less nervous and less pressure on competition days.
How to Normalize Pressure To Makes It Less Powerful Over You
If we let pressure build up inside of our mind, it will eventually affect us and we will perform worse on the golf course. This is where normalizing different parts of the golf game, can help make them become routine and not so intense and pressurized.
For starters, adding in pressure golf drills to your practice routine can help normalize pressure for you and get you used to the feeling, which will in return bring it down and no longer feel like pressure.
Golf Resource: Foy Golf Academy Practice System + Practice Plans
Golf Pressure Drills to Practice
1. Long Putt Short Putt
Start working on putting first as this is where pressure tends to be strongest. Set up a putt from far away to the hole on the green to simulate when we have a long, unmakeable putt. The goal is to hit the putt as close to the hole as we can, leaving a short putt remaining to finish the hole.
Every time we get the golf ball on the green, we should expect it to take 2 putts to get into the hole. Think of it like a putt putt mini golf course when they say par is 2, meaning make it in the hole in just 2 putts.
2. Practice 5 Foot Putts
If we are within 5 feet or less of the hole, we should aim for it to take just 1 putt to get into the hole since we’re already starting off with a shorter putt, unlike the scenario above where we faced a long putt.
Practicing putts from 5 feet can help release pressure on you during your golf round because odds are, you’re going to face many putts from 1 foot to 5 foot, so mastering 5 feet can help you make more putts and save strokes from your score.
To add pressure, try to make 10 putts in a row from 5 feet. Take your time and go through your pre-putt routine before each putting attempt to simulate the routine you’d go through on the course. If you miss a putt, start back over at 0.
3. Control Your Thoughts
This drill takes place on the driving range when we are working through a bucket of range balls, hitting swing after swing.
Take a moment during your set up, before the swing and calm your mind mentally. Put extra focus on your pre-shot thinking. How can I find a state of calmness?
Practice finding what works for you to get to a calm thinking state where you aren’t letting thoughts race through your mind before and during the swing.
Practicing this will help you on the golf course during a competition round, so you can come into a state of peaceful calmness prior to each golf swing, helping you swing smoother and make better contact.
4. Be Aware of Tension
Most of the pressure comes mentally, but this can also affect our body and muscles causing us to tense up.
To reduce pressure you face on the golf course, start by becoming more aware of the tension in your body and muscles. What does it feel like when you are tense versus when you are relaxed?
This will you learn when you are actually calm and relaxed versus being tense and uptight.
During your golf round, practice things like taking a moment to walk away from the ball, shake out your arms and legs, stretch, get a drink of water. These different actions can trigger a reset in your body to help reduce tension.
There’s nothing better than feeling relaxed during a golf swing and it starts with the pre-shot routine to get into a relaxed state. Don’t rush and hit your golf ball if you still feel tense. Take a moment to reset.
Overall, these are several tips and mindsets to come into this season to work on reducing pressure you feel on the golf course. Pressure in golf can be so detrimental to your performance so learning techniques both physically and mentally can help you reduce tension and pressure, staying more relaxed and calm.
One final sign of pressure, is if you feel sped up. A tight chest, heart racing, or your mentality is to rush things and go fast. Instead, slow down, take deep breathes! Thanks for reading!