How top golfers use psychology to keep calm

Seamus Rotherick
By Seamus Rotherick July 15, 2019 11:12

Whilst golf is already considered by many to be one of the most difficult sports on the planet, there’s much more to the game than simply managing to hit the ball where you want it to land.

At the very top level of the sport, the difference between winning and losing is minimal. Was Tiger Woods that much better than everyone else when he dominated the game of golf during the 2000s? Probably not. However, the way he approached the game mentally was second to none and helped him keep his calm under pressure when many other talented golfers would have folded like a deck of cards. With this in mind, we’ve taken a look at how top golfers use psychology in the modern game and use it to keep calm under pressure.

Whilst golf is already considered by many to be one of the most difficult sports on the planet, there’s much more to the game than simply managing to hit the ball where you want it to land. At the very top level of the sport, the difference between winning and losing is minimal.

Was Tiger Woods that much better than everyone else when he dominated the game of golf during the 2000s? Probably not.

However, the way he approached the game mentally was second to none and helped him keep his calm under pressure when many other talented golfers would have folded like a deck of cards. With this in mind, we’ve taken a look at how top golfers use psychology in the modern game and use it to keep calm under pressure.


Focusing On the Moment

The phrases, “he had one eye on the prize” or “she was already in the clubhouse” have become commonplace in golf and are synonymous with players letting their mind wander. It’s often said that 90% of golf is played in between shots. When you’re thinking about what could happen in the future, you’re focusing on uncertainty which will make you tight and anxious. Lottoland describes how to keep calm in this article and explains how one’s thoughts can easily become irrational when you’re feeling overwhelmed or under stress. Ultimately, staying present and in the moment is one of the most important tools at a top players disposal and major winners such as Jordan Speith, Tiger Woods and Brooks Koepka have mastered this skill.

 

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Make Score a Secondary Consideration

In pre and post-round interviews with many top golfers, you’ll often hear them talk about how they’re just going out to play their own game and what will be will be. This is undoubtedly the best approach to take, as thinking about your score is known to create performance anxiety. Consequently, you will put unnecessary pressure on yourself and it’s unlikely that you will produce your best golf under these circumstances. Of course, this is subject to change depending on the leaderboard and the day of play – if a player knows that they have to take risks in order to catch the leader or make the cut then they will be forced to think about their score and adjust their game accordingly.

Win the Internal Battle

In golfing psychology, it’s said that you are two golfers. Golfer 1 is logical, assured and has a plan, whilst Golfer 2 is more emotional and fearful of the consequences. It’s impossible to gouge Golfer 2 out of your brain and he can come in handy when warning you off doing something stupid. However, top golfers are aware of both voices and have mastered the art of making them work as a team when it matters. In more simple terms, this is essentially a battle between intuition and logic. Because of this, the best players know when to take risks and when to settle.

Jordan Spieth with the claret jug

It’s All In Your Head

The mental side of golf is important at all levels of the game. However, it’s certainly worth getting the basics down before worrying too much about what’s going on in your head. After all, if you keep shanking your shots onto the motorway or into somebody’s garden, chances are you’re going to be pretty angry most of the time. For those who feel they are competent enough for the psychology of golf to matter, there are numerous books on the mental side of the game. Happy golfing.

 

Seamus Rotherick
By Seamus Rotherick July 15, 2019 11:12
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