Top Tips to Improve your Mental Golf Game
“I am about 5 inches from being an outstanding golfer. That’s the distance my left ear is from my right.” – Ben Crenshaw. Golf is an extremely mental game. Yes, you need to be able to physically hit the ball, but your success has a lot to do with your mental ability on the golf course too.
Almost all of the top golfers out there have a sports psychologist to help them attain mental toughness. Mental training helps players develop the key mental skills to complement the physical aspect of the game.
For those of us mere mortals not quite ready for a personal mind coach, here are a few pointers to change your play. Some of them may seem simple enough, but be honest with yourself, are you really using these skills effectively throughout your game?
4 ways to improve your mental golf game
1. Stay in the present
We always hear winners from big tours around the world attributing a part of their victory to their ability to stay in the present. Whilst playing golf, our minds tend to wonder. We think back to past circumstances – like a mistake we may have made on a previous hole. We may also start to think about the future – wondering about a shot or hole that’s coming up. It’s important to focus one shot at a time and not to get ahead of yourself. The beauty of golf is that you can have a bad hole or round but if you maintain focus and keep your mind on the present you can bounce back.
2. Learn how to control your emotions
Whether you hit a great shot or a terrible one, it is OK to feel emotion. However, it’s also important to forget about the shot and return your focus to the now. Mental agitation can wreak havoc on your focus and your body chemistry ie; anger may cause you to swing harder on your next shot, throwing off the mechanics that you have developed. If you battle to erase your thoughts and feelings from the last hole, simply change your focus from what went wrong to what you did well.
3. Develop a routine
The pre-shot routine is a physical and mental sequence of actions to help golfers remain focused on the task at hand to play shots consistently well. It helps golfers harness their trust and commitment during a round of golf. Every top golfer has a slightly different pre-shot routine that is their own. Your pre-shot routine needs to fit your individual needs, personality, rhythm, and mental approach. Take the time to analyse what makes you feel confident before a shot. Perhaps it starts with a certain number of practice swings, followed by a certain number of glances toward the target. Or maybe it’s imagining the flight of the ball your about to hit. Whatever it may be, make it consistent each time. Having a solid pre-shot routine not only will help you feel more comfortable on the golf course, but it will lead to better scores.
4. Visualize your best game
The brain doesn’t know the difference between a real and imagined action – this is because the sensory input into the brain is the same. So, when you visualise a physical action, you’re actually stimulating the same muscles that you would use to perform the real action. There are various types of visualisations. Whether it’s visualising yourself hitting the ball, or the actual shot, the key is to be as clear as possible. Imprint an image of the target in your mind so you can see it when you’re not looking at it.
Having control of your mind and using it properly can separate you from your competition. We believe every golfer has the potential to be much better than he or she is, and that using the mind is one essential way to improve.