How to Enjoy Golf (and Play Better too!)
So you’re at the golf course and after one-too-many shots into the hazards you’re feeling like the gods of golf are conspiring against you. So now you go home feeling down because you’ve had a “bad day” at the golf course. Sound familiar? It’s safe to say that all golfers enjoy the game when they’re playing well. But when the going gets tough (which can be often), it’s easy to feel powerless and throw up your hands in defeat. Well we’ve got three words for you: strong mental game.
We’ve all heard about how essential the mental game is in golf. If you look at any other sport, mental resilience is often recognized as simply being able to perform under pressure. While this is no different for golf, there are additional complications that can make it more frustrating than other mainstream sports. As an outdoor sport, golfers are at the mercy of the weather and the terrain they play on. Golf equipment is also a huge deal, despite debate in the community about how strongly equipment impacts performance. Finally, it’s not a team sport. So all the pressure falls on you to take the swing and make the shot.
It’s easy to feel overwhelmed, blame your golf clubs for bad swings, and come home after a day of golf feeling depressed instead of happy. So where does a strong mind come in? And how will it help you enjoy playing again? Well, we’ve come up with some simple tips to help ease your mind the next time you’re having a rough day on the golf course:
- Be present in each shot!
Any golfer will tell you that it’s easy to get caught up in your performance. A bad shot or two can lead a novice golfer down a mental tailspin of doubt and angst. Even being in the lead can cause golfers to lose their focus instead of concentrating on making the best out of the next swing. That’s why it’s so important to approach each shot absent any baggage from previous poor performance or worrying about protecting your score. Understand that a handful of bad shots won’t kill your game. In fact, many pro golfers have won tournaments despite some absolutely dreadful shots. Be present in each shot, treat each shot as an island separate from the others, and do your best to hit your target. Remember; great shots can always follow bad ones.
- Keep your cool and stick to the plan!
If you’re behind, feeling like you need to accelerate your play to catch up can spell doom for your performance. Keep your cool and play at your own pace. You’ll also want to avoid listening (too much) to unsolicited swing advice from others. When you’re concentrating on making your shot and someone points out something you should/shouldn’t be doing, that advice (however well-meaning) can plant seeds of doubt that can ruin your focus. Don’t get us wrong! If you’re looking for tips, then by all means ask. Just don’t let others influence any play strategies you’ve developed before you get a chance to feel them out. Mixing it up too much will rob you of consistency, which is a key component to performing well. Trust your plan and give it time to come to fruition. Then play through and review your performance after.
- Stay mentally flexible!
We all want to have a better swing and take better shots, but it’s also dangerous to get too engrossed into the mechanics of the game. With golf, there are a lot of instructions and tips that make it easy to fall into robotic thinking. Bunker shot equals sand wedge right? Well you don’t have to use a sand wedge in the bunker if you’re terrible with it. Likewise, don’t force yourself into a play style that doesn’t fit you. Being able to stay flexible allows you to think creatively about how to approach your shots and develop a play style that works for you. Like a swing that fits your physical ability will allow you to consistently swing better, a play style that fits you will allow you to consistently perform better. So experiment with your practice shots and think outside of the box!
All in all, mental fortitude means a lot of things in golf but it’s no less important than having a good swing. With these tips, we hope you’ll feel at least a bit more patient and allow yourself to enjoy the game. It’s too easy to blame poor shots on your equipment or feel overwhelmed. But at the end of the day, don’t let your game be ruined because of some poor shots. A strong mind helps you understand that you can always follow up a poor shot with a great one. So instead of coming home after a game and saying “I’m had a bad day, I feel terrible”, you can say “I made some bad shots but I still had a great time”.
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