To the outside observer, golf may not look like too difficult of a sport.
However, there’s a reason why so many people approach golf with confidence only to walk away defeated and even a bit depressed.
Golf is a terribly challenging sport made up of tiny little problems to be solved. Everything from club selection to reading your lie to remembering to keep you head down when you swing can quickly eat away at a player who otherwise has a lot of promise.
If this sounds like you – or if you’re just starting out and want to avoid these problems – it’s important you master the mental game of golf.
Practice More Than Hitting the Ball
The most fun part about playing golf is making contact with the ball.
Yet, it’s everything else you do that will make the biggest difference. When you play golf or even when you’re just practicing at the driving range or the putting green, make sure you practice everything else intentionally. Take your time reviewing your lie, for example, and really try to get good at doing this as well as possible.
When you’re walking to your next shot, practice thinking about said shot and nothing else. This means letting go of any negative thoughts you may have from the hole before.
This sort of mental practice is just as important as the physical kind, if not more so.
Work on Your Pre-Shot Routine
This is similar to the above point but deserves its own section. After Rory McIlroy won the British Open in 2014, he said he focused on two main things leading up to it: process and spot.
The former referred to his pre-shot routine – the things he does before hitting the ball. Having a pre-shot routine prepares your mind and body for the job at hand. It pushes out unrelated thoughts and keeps your body from any unnecessary movements.
It’s also essential for when the pressure is on. Whether you ever play in a tournament or you’re simply under pressure from your group, you want a routine you can begin that will carry you all the way through the end of your stroke.
Focus on a Single Dimple
“Keep your eye on the ball.”
We’ve all heard this advice before.
Chances are that you don’t need to hear it again.
What you probably do need to hear, though, is that you actually have to keep your eye on the dimple of the ball. The ball itself is actually too big to be meaningful. Find a single dimple and then concentrate on swinging through it. This mental note will keep the head of your club from coming into the ball at an unwanted angle.
Consider Par a Win
Most golfers would be very pleased to finish 18 holes with par. When it comes to each individual hole, though, a lot of us find ourselves getting overly aggressive and hunting for birdies.
Do your best to just go for par. This is no small accomplishment and the goal will keep you from picking shots you’re not actually comfortable with. Over time, you’ll find your overall score improving significantly, too.
While there’s a lot to be said for going out and spending time on the course or at the driving range, don’t forget to master the mental game of golf, as well. The above tips will get you started on your path toward success.