Now that we are nearing the beginning of a new golf season, it’s a good time to set some goals for your game improvement to ensure that you make it your best one yet.
One the easiest ways you can lower scores is through mental golf training. Here are 7 mental game tips from Mental Golf Coach, David MacKenzie of Golf State of Mind.
1. Establish Your “Process”
In 2019, I’d like you to have a new measure of success for your rounds. Instead of judging yourself by score, we’re going to see how many quality shot routines you can do and how well you can manage your mental game.
Why do this? Your technical skills are what they are when you step onto the first tee.
It’s your focus, self-awareness and managing your thoughts and emotions that is going to bring the best out of your skills (and give you a better chance of a good score).
First, I’d like you to have consistency in your focus before, during and after every shot via a solid pre shot routine.
No matter what the level of your technical skills, if you don’t feel confident, comfortable and athletic when you’re over the ball, you’re not going access your best swing.
Find 3-4 things you know you need to do to increase commitment, intent and engagement with the target, instead of thinking about what you don’t want to happen. Then measure the success of the shot by whether you did them or not.
2. Know Your Tendencies When You’re Not Playing Well
We all have habits that we fall into when we’re not playing well.
Do you start rushing through your pre-shot routine and swinging faster? Is your self-talk negative? Do you start gripping the club too tightly? Does your body language become weak?
Self-awareness is a key part of improving your mental game and performing better.
After each round, write some notes in your “performance journal” and start a list of things that you know you do when you’re not playing well and immediately, you’ll start to become more aware of whether you are falling into those bad habits on the course.
3. Know How to Control “Performance Anxiety”
The stress response, or “performance anxiety” will automatically kick in when we’re fearful of something. This could be standing on the first tee or when faced with a pressure putt to win.
Remember that butterflies and a little nerves are a good thing – they heighten awareness and sharpen your senses.
But getting too nervous can tighten your muscles and affect your focus. For this reason, it’s important that you learn good stress management techniques that you can use depending on how you feel on the course.
4. Learn the Skill Of “Staying in The Present”
Too many golfers lose strokes because they are always thinking about what’s going to happen next and what score they might shoot. This adds pressure to your shots and increases performance anxiety.
Your best golf is played when you are in the emotionless place of the present moment, focusing on the “here and now” instead of stressing about what the effect of the next shot will be.
But this takes practice and once you get better at it, it has benefits that transcend golf.
There are lots of great apps you can use to learn how to improve this and you would not believe the difference 5-10 minutes per day can make.
5. Practice More Effectively
Practice for golf is most effective when you are simulating what you will experience on the course, instead of doing endless repetitions of your swing.
Golf is one of the few games where the practice environment (the driving range), does not closely resemble the playing environment. On the golf course:
- Every shot counts
- You only get one attempt and it
- Every shot is from a different position and is its own unique challenge
First, I make sure my students are keeping stats, so they know which specific areas of their game they need to improve and how to best use their practice time.
Next, we’ll create a practice environment which is more like the golf course – creating pressure on each shot, varying the challenge, and putting some time in between.
This way, the player is practicing for playing and develops playing skills, instead of just trying to perfect their technical skills, which on its own won’t translate into lower scores.
6. Improve Body Language and Self-talk
The two main ways we communicate with ourselves is via our self-talk and our body language. Both are very undervalued in performing better on the golf course. I’d like you to become more aware of both.
Notice whether you are walking confidently, eyes up, shoulders back and chest out, or whether you’re hunched over, looking down at the ground. Do you beat yourself up, or lift your mood and confidence with positive self-talk? How do you walk into the ball before a shot?
David MacKenzie has been a mental coach for golf for over 10 years and not only does he work one on one with his students, but he’s created a highly comprehensive mental golf training program.
I’ve worked with David (both one on one and via his training program) and can personally attest to how powerful these techniques are. If you’re interested in learning more about this, please click here.
By following these 7 steps, you’ll no doubt ensure that 2019 is one of progress in your game and more enjoyment, instead of another season passing without improvement.
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.