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Golf Psych – Simple isn’t always easy

When it comes to golf psychology advice, it often seems as though there is way too much to remember.Think positively about the round ahead, watch your body language as you play, pre shot routine, post shot routine, deep breathing, counting the trees, visualisation, positive self talk.

All of this plus all of your swing tips and thoughts? It’s no wonder that it’s easier to forget it all and just play. Trouble is that just forgetting it all and playing often doesn’t work that well. We fall back into old habits that stop us from playing to our potential.

Habits like worrying about the score, over thinking our golf swing and then getting really frustrated.

So how about we keep it as simple as possible?

The most important part of the mental process when you play golf is to really get into the shot before you hit it. By that I mean get a clear picture or feeling about the type of shot and where you want to hit it because this sends a clear message to your body about what you want it to do. I’m taking it for granted that you already do this. If not then find out more here

After that perhaps it’s time to keep it simple. I think that you can transform the way that you perform with just three intentions for the round. Stick to these and you are laying solid foundations for your mental stability as you play as well as your future enjoyment.

  1. Promise that before you hit each golf shot you will accept any and every outcome with good grace.

If you can understand and accept before you go out to play that you will make mistakes then you have set the right attitude for the round. Did you ever purposely hit a poor shot? Of course not. You are always doing your best given the circumstances so be kind to yourself, accept your mistakes and move on. Mistakes really aren’t the problem. Your reaction to them may well be though.

2. Set and stick to a focus for every shot that you hit

How often do you go out with one swing thought and then change it after a few bad shots? Then you go round in circles , changing swing thoughts every hole, looking for something else to trust. Stop it! This searching rarely brings good performance. Instead pick a simple focus point and do your best to observe it non judgmentally. For example, you could choose anyone of these three favourites of mine. Balance or tempo or tension. Observe your balance as you swing the golf club. Don’t try hard to stay balanced, just notice how balanced that you are. No good or bad simply an awareness of it. Likewise you could be aware of your tempo as you swing or aware of how much tension there is in you as you swing. Remember pick one focus point and stick to it whatever happens and don’t make the mistake of trying to be balanced or trying to keep a certain tempo or trying to remain tension free. Your job is to observe non judgmentally what the reality is. This will stop you from becoming frantic and searching. Practice on the range beforehand to get comfortable.

3. Check in with yourself as you walk down each fairway

We can get so caught up in the score or the match that we often lose ourselves as we play. The game then takes us on an emotional rollercoaster where we seem to have lost control. We rush into shots, make poor decisions and start getting frustrated. To counter this, ask yourself these two questions as you walk down each fairway. “What am I thinking?” and “How am I feeling?” . Wait for the honest answers. If you are thinking about winning or beating your opponent you have left the present moment. Smile to yourself and come back to it with a few moments of focus on your breath. If you are feeling anxious ask yourself what you are anxious about? Probably winning or losing. You are trapped in thought again. Smile. Come back to your senses, the sights around you, the sounds, smells etc. You have come back to the present. Your mind will be calmer when you realise that you are lost in thought and you come back to reality. Set an intention to check in with yourself on each hole.


Mark a separate scorecard on how well you are sticking to your three intentions. Score yourself on every hole. Set a scale. After the round look at your scores and notice where you lost yourself. What was happening to you at that point in the round? This is where you can learn from your mistakes for the next time that you play a round with these three intentions.

Play with this for at least three rounds before deciding if you like it or not. Be sure to give it a fair trial. Sticking to these three intentions should help you to keep a balanced mind as you play golf. A balanced mind leads to better performance. There really is no need to make it any more complicated than this. If you are determined to stick to your intentions, I know that you will be surprised by the results.

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