We often hear about golfers struggling with their mental games when things go wrong. But that's not the only time we can struggle.
It’s also when things are going well or shall we say, a little too well.
We all like to play well and want to improve our golf. In order for us to improve our golf, we need to change. Therein lies the real problem, as the mind doesn’t always like change.
It’s quite happy for everything to stay the same and keep us plodding along doing what we do and what we’ve always done. It likes familiarity, our own little comfort zone, unless you're prepared for it.
A while back, a friend who plays to an 8 or 9 handicap, was playing in his club’s monthly medal. By the 12th hole he noticed he had a good score going as he had only dropped 1 shot by the time he walked onto the 13th tee.
He started thinking about his score, which meant his mind started to wander instead of focusing on his game.
Within short it got away from him, because he was so excited about the possibility of shooting his best score ever. Monkey mind set in and his thoughts were going at 100 miles per hour.
That’s when the problems started and he started dropping shots.
One. Then two, then three.
With each dropped shot, his anxiety and stress levels increased.
Finally, he walked off the 18th a nervous wreck with a huge sigh of relief that it was over. He needed a well-earned beer I remember him saying (or two).
However, as he sat down for his cold beer, the reality kicked in that he had only played to his handicap after dropping a bunch of shots when he got ahead of himself. He couldn't quite work out where it all went wrong as he reviewed the score card in dismay.
He struggled because he’s not used to shooting that type of score and his mind simply worked on ways to prevent it happening. It became a mental battle, which he obviously lost, because he hadn't worked on that area of his game.
Developing a strategy of staying focused on the present rather than what may happen, or what has already happened will help prevent the mind getting carried away and cause unforced errors.
Work on that part of your game to help you maintain a good score next time you have one going.
If you want to know more about developing the mental side of your game, get a copy of my 7 Keys to Improve Your Mental Golf Game by clicking here.
The snowy conditions have gone but that's not the meltdown I'm referring to. This one happened in Saudi where's there's no snow and not sure there ever has been.
I wasn't planning on writing on this topic but I felt compelled to after a couple of recent events in the Middle East.
Lee Westwood, has been a top class golfer for many years, but the last few have been a little testing at times. He missed the cut last year at the Omega Dubai Desert Classic but managed to finish 7th this time around and was interviewed during the tournament in January by a reporter asking about his approach to golf now as he has his girlfriend on the bag with him.
The reporter seemed quite taken aback when Westwood told him “I’ve given up caring”.
That may seem totally bizarre to many, for a world class golfer to be heading into tournaments with that sort of attitude, but sometimes we have to take a step back and look at things from a different perspective in order to become more effective and enjoy the game more.
On the flip side, we’ve seen another of the world’s top golfer’s being disqualified from a tournament recently for serious breach of conduct.
Sergio Garcia has apologised for his behaviour and also to the group of golfers behind him, for the damage he did to the greens through what could only be described as frustration.
We know golf is a challenging game, and as I’ve mentioned before, the further up the ladder you go, the more challenging it is with the pressure of expectation.
However, this is not Sergio’s first high-profile tournament. Far from it. What happened to that care-free leaping teenager that was looking to take on the world and have fun along the way?
Usually getting married and having a child has a calming effect on people as they tend to view their priorities somewhat differently and don’t view golf as a matter of life and death.
What prompted this outburst is yet to be discovered. It may well just be not reaching his own high expectation level and let himself down in more way than one.
However, I don’t believe Westwood’s attitude is as cavalier as it may first appear. Having a “caring too much attitude” can affect our ability to think straight, control our emotions and ultimately our golf suffers.
What he was really referring to was caring where his ball went. As I’ve covered in other posts, we can only control so much on the golf course and indeed we control the ball far less than we imagine. Once it’s left the club face, it’s no longer in our control where it finishes.
Not caring simply means we are less reactive to the situation and are in greater control of ourselves and our emotions.
By doing this, we free ourselves up to play more freely and allow our natural game to flow, instead of letting our emotions run the show and ultimately run the risk of having a meltdown at some point.
It can be a fine line and like anything, it takes time and effort, but Westwood has proved it can be done, even at the highest level.
Try it on your next round and see if it frees you up to play a more relaxed and enjoyable round and not get sucked into a meltdown.
If you want to know more about improving your mental game, get a copy of my 7 Keys to Improve Your Mental Game by clicking here
To your success.
It’s January and it’s been cold of late and we finally got some real snow last night!
I mean real snow, as in more than a dusting, which means, no golf for the weekend as they’ve forecast more is on the way.
Now is a great time, to improve your golf even if the course is covered in snow.
Instead of nipping out to the golf stores to spend more money on shiny new objects that have just been released after the PGA show in Orlando, why not spend some valuable time assessing your mental game and how you can improve improve your golf?.
Instead of wishing and hoping things are ‘going’ to get better, answer these questions to gain some clarity on your game.
1. Where are you in your golf right now?
Be specific and not merely, ‘Shooting somewhere in the 80’s”
2. Where do you want to be this year? If you’re shooting on average 80 or 82, or you’re a 14 handicap
where do you want to be by the end of the year?
3. What challenges or obstacles do you foresee preventing that from happening?
Once you’ve clarified any challenges, then you can decide it’s a mental or physical problem.
For example, if you keep having that one ‘bad’ hole just when things were going great and then it all ends up going to pot. It's a mental challenge.
Or you’re on the 11th and you’ve got a great score going. Suddenly you get the “if’s?”.
You know, “What if I bogey the next few holes”, “If only I can par the next 6 holes”.
This again is a mental problem, focusing on the future rather than what you’re doing at the time.
Spend some time going through and analysing your game, to help understand what may be holding you back and from there, what you can do to work on it before the season starts.
It may just change your whole season.
If you want some help with some more mental strategies, get a copy of my 7 Keys to Improve Your Mental Golf Game by clicking this link Improve My Mental Game
Performance Coach & Trainer at Golfing minds