No doubt your mind plays a part as to how good you become or how you perform on any given day.
So, here are 14 signs you have strong mental skills for golf. Don’t worry if you’re not all of them or any of them for that matter. These are all attainable skills and mindsets.
#1 You Have Very Little Fear of Failure
In golf you are going to fail many times over – even during one round of golf, failure will happen on many occasions.
This is why learning to view failure differently is a very important mindset to acquire.
Lots of golfers view it as a sign of weakness. It means you are not cut out for golf and everything you are doing is a waste of time.
This mindset just adds pressure and only results in you playing with a lot less freedom on the golf course. You start playing with the view of not failing.
But the most successful golfers/people view failure very differently.
They see it as part of the learning process of getting better, so rather than shying away, they go towards it.
Failing at something often means you are pushing yourself out of your comfort zone, and in golf (or anything in life), out of your comfort zone is where the magic happens.
So, don’t fear it, welcome it, and you’ll start going towards the things required to lower you scores.
#2 You Can React Neutrally to Bad Golf Shots
A lot of our stored memories are based on how much emotion you felt at the time of the event. Ie if the event caused you plenty of upset then it has a higher chance of cementing in your memory bank.
Therefore, it might be a good idea to be conscious as to how much emotion you attach to your poor golf shots.
If that shot in the trees is met with anger and frustration, there is a higher chance of that errant swing coming to the front of your memory on the next one.
The ideal scenario is to remember the good ones and forget the bad ones. So, show your poor golf shots no reaction at all. Then on the flip side, when you hole that 20-footer for birder, get excited about it.
Golfers are too often the other way around.
#3 You Never Ever Give Up on a Round of Golf
There is literally no upside in ever giving up on a round of golf.
Deep down you know this.
I told a story on our Facebook page a little while ago about a guy at my club who had 4 points after 9 holes in a recent Stableford competition.
As you would expect, he was in a fair amount of distress on that 10th tee but to his credit, he never gave in.
Although he was visiting parts of the course, he didn’t think existed, he ended up with 27 points. As an overall total, this isn’t his best effort but when I saw him in the bar later, it was if he had won the tournament.
In golf, you literally never know what’s around the corner. I’ve had rounds where its been rubbish for 12 holes and then the last 6 holes I have found something, and the whole experience just turned on its head.
Never giving up doesn’t always mean you’ll turn a particular round around, but it gives you a chance.
The thing is, giving up ensures you’ll never turn one round.
Develop the habit of never throwing the towel in, and over a period of the time, it will have a positive effect on your handicap.
#4 You Can Think Clearly in a Pressure Situation
Being able to think clearly when we you are nervous or tense in a certain situation on the course is a formidable skill to acquire.
You may find your thinking or judgement becomes more erratic in tense situations on the course.
Lots of golfers tend to speed up during these times which just ends up clouding their judgement further. Lots of golfers make poor decisions when the pressure is on, only to regret the decision later.
So, when you’re next faced with an important shot, start being aware of how you react and try slowing everything down. To your breathing, to your walk, and your practice swings.
This proactive rather than reactive method is what the best players are great at.
#5 A Bad Golf Score Doesn’t Affect Your Self Worth
Lots of golfer’s tie their golf score with their self-worth. You know the ones, who look like somebody’s just murdered their cat after a bad performance.
Your golf score has no reflection on you as a person. At then end of the day, you are walking around a big field hitting a golf ball with sticks.
Just because you’ve had just had 20 points in a stable-ford, it doesn’t make you any less of a human being.
Of course, Its fine to be a little disappointed, but once you start berating yourself or getting too down on yourself, then it becomes pointless.
A much healthier approach is just to look at the round as something to learn from. It didn’t go great today, but what can you take from it to do better next time.
And I have begun to think about it this way as I was awful for this. Your kids or your wife couldn’t give two hoots about what you shoot on the golf course.
You still have all the same qualities whether you play well or rubbish.
So, next time things are going badly, hang onto the fact that in the grand scheme of things, this one round of golf is not going to change anything in your life – good or bad.
#6 You Accept You Won’t Always Have Your Best Game
As golfers we believe we have more control than we actually do. Sometimes you wake up and the swing feels good. Some days we look at the hole and it looks like a bucket.
But others, our action feels off and the hole appears half the size. There is no real reason for this – it’s just the way it is.
So, a great mentality to have is acceptance.
Accept these times and have fun with it. Golf swing feels rubbish – challenge yourself to make the best of it.
Take less risks. Hit less drivers. Whatever you’ve got to do to get the ball round in the lowest score possible with what you have in your armoury that day.
The grittiest golfers thrive during these times.
Too many golfers if they don’t have their best, get frustrated and bewildered as to why things feel so different from last week.
Don’t be one of them.
#7 You Don’t React to Your Own Negative Thoughts
I hate the term ‘’controlling thoughts’’ or ‘’positive thinking’’ or any other term of this sort. We have limited control over what we think.
Thoughts just pop up. Good ones, negative ones, horrific ones. For everybody.
Allowing all kinds of thoughts to be there and not add any judgement is a key to dealing with ‘negative thinking’
Its never the thought that causes tension, its our perception and reaction to that thought that gives it power (little deep, I know).
So, when some negative self-doubt arises on the golf course, don’t try and rid yourself of it.
Just allow it to be there and pay it no attention and the thoughts disappear. In my vast experience with my own anxiety in the past, the more you try and run away from your negative thinking, the more it tends to persist.
#8 You Are Aware of What Pressure Does to Your Technique
As we have talked about pressure can alter your psychological state. But it can also have a big effect physically.
I know from personal experience, my back swing can get a lot quicker during times of tension. Also, my technical frailties are more likely to come out during these times.
But I have become much more aware of this, so I can put adjustments in place next time I face that pressure tee shot. ie rehearsing ultra slow backswings to compensate.
Lots of golfers aren’t aware of how their golf swing changes under tension.
So, A great place to find out what happens, is to film your golf swing in a no pressure environment (the range) and then film it on the course during a round and compare.
You may be quite surprised at how different things can become.
#9 You Care Very Little What Others Think About Your Game
Caring what others think about your game is only a waste of energy, it adds pressure and it offers nothing of any value.
And it’s all pointless because they don’t care much anyway. Often our perception of how much we think others think about our golf game is way off.
In reality, people are way too absorbed with their own problems (their own push slice) to care about what your impact position is like, so worrying what they think (which is probably nothing) only detracts you from the stuff you can control in your golf game.
#10 You Are Able to Immerse Yourself in the Current Shot
You have heard the old cliché of staying in the present a million times. It’s nothing new, but it’s true that golfers with a strong mentality are able to focus on the shot in hand with limited noise of future or past events.
Thinking too much about what has happened or what could happen is going to put your brain in a state that is not conducive to playing your best golf.
That’s why a consistent pre-shot routine is highly recommended and something all of the top golfers in the world possess.
With a repetitive routine you can set a number of check points in your mind of the things you must focus on with each shot.
And the aim is to just complete these with little or no thought of what outcome may happen or has happened in the past.
Next round base the success of your round on how well you execute your routine and not what you score. With this small change in mentality overtime, ironically your scores will improve.
#11 You are Great at Fully Committing to the Shot You’ve Chosen
If you have been playing for golf for any length of time, you’ll know what second guessing yourself, or changing your mind mid swing does to your results.
This is why getting into the habit of clearly picking a shot and then fully committing is going to give you a far higher chance of executing the shot you desire.
I like to set this is as one of my process goals. If I have fully committed to the shot then the shot is a success, no matter where it goes.
This is one of the better mental habits to get into – golfers in two minds are rarely successful.
#12 You Know Your Optimum Tension Level to Perform Your Best
Optimum tension and adrenaline levels are very golfer specific.
Look at someone like John Rahm – he loves to play with a high amount of adrenaline running though his veins. He says before each round – he listens to music like Eminem to get him pumped up.
On the other end – look at someone like Dustin Johnson. He makes a birdie and you think he could fall asleep at any minute. He confesses that he plays his best with neutral emotions throughout.
Me personally – If I get too excited or pumped up, then the nerves tend to take control.
So, for you, experiment with what works for you. Play some hip hop or classical music before the round and see how you fair.
As I say, everyone’s level is going to be different, but what’s important is you find what is going to be optimum for you to give you a chance of playing your best.
#13 You Can Switch Off from Golf at the Right Times During the Round
In a round of golf, you spend most of it not playing golf. You are walking, talking and thinking so how you are approaching these things is going to have some bearing on how you play.
This is all about self-awareness. Are you the type that spends most of this time ruminating about your previous or upcoming shots?
Or do you completely switch off between shots? Do you have a chat with your partners and give your mind a rest ready to focus when you really need to?
One of these scenarios is hugely beneficial and one is usually detrimental to performance.
#14 A Bad Round Doesn’t Derail You – It Was a Chance to Learn Something
This is a great mindset to require. Too many of us (me included at times) get too down on ourselves after a particular performance. We start to doubt ourselves and everything we are doing.
A much more productive attitude is to look back through the performance and note down both sides of the coin. What did you do well? Even in some of your worst rounds you would have done something well.
And what do you need to improve on, so you are moving the needle in your favour for future rounds?
Getting down on yourself is not productive. Failure as we have spoken about is a good thing – it allows you to grow and improve if you approach it with a learning mindset.
So that’s it, if you have all these mental skills in your armoury then brilliant, but if not, don’t get too downhearted if you feel like you need to improve a lot of these.
These are all skills that with conscious effort can all be acquired and I am still personally working on many of them.
Thanks for reading – please don’t forget to share with other like minded golfers who could benefit from this information.
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Currently a low handicap golfer who is striving to become a scratch player. I have a very keen passion for the mental side of the game as I feel this is holding lots of golfers back from fulfilling their potential (as it did me) and also stopping them from enjoying this awesome game it as much as they should.