6 Mental Golf Tips To Score Better
6 Golf psychology tips to help you play better
Having coached players who own 29 PGA Tour wins I know what it takes to score better and I have more than a few tips to help players win at any level.
Top players work with sports psychologists like me because if you think better, you score better. Therefore, working on your “mental game” becomes an integral part of your practice, just as you would never stop putting practice, you should never stop your mental practice.
To play golf better drop any comparisons
When we’re present we play our best and one of the BIGGEST CULPRITS stopping us from being present is comparison to others! Even though it has no place on the course it continues to creep in.
Comparison makes no sense for golf!
Golf is an indirect competition, players can’t directly affect others’ performance.
The comparison you are making doesn’t give any indication of your progress. Do you play better than you did a year ago?
The comparison doesn’t tell you what YOU need to improve. It may tell you “where you stand” at the time, but it doesn’t tell you how to get from A to B.
✅You can watch Damon Green from 1.11min describe how he supported Zach Johnson to steer clear from comparison to win.
Drop comparisons and be present on the course to SCORE BETTER.
Just play the golf course
You’ll notice this psychological tip is still about being present.
Your aim is to play the course!
Not the event
Not the leader
Not other players in your group
Not compared to last year
The course, the course, and nothing but the course.
When Zach Johnson won The Masters, his caddie Damon Green kept the leaderboard from him to support him in being in the moment. This enabled him to focus on his golf process and win.
Become a better player by developing a long fuse
To stay mentally composed, develop a long fuse.
How do you do this?
Self-talk on the night before and the morning of the competition.
Use visualization. See yourself having positive body language, a good tempo, and a smile on your face!
Walk slowly and breathe
With a short fuse, you blow up fast.
Develop a long fuse and you have time to put it (the fuse) out and maintain your composure.
Have productive practice sessions to play productively
The more you treat practice rounds like tournament play, the more your tournament play will equal your practice round performance. This is why your mental practice should be included because your golf process will be part of how you play if it’s part of how you practice.
You can’t have productive course-management, pre-shot routines, self-talk, body language or anything else helpful during competitions if you haven’t done them during practice.
Productive practice = productive play.
Change how you talk to yourself
If you go back to recordings of The British Open from 2009 and watch one of my students, Stewart Cink, you will see that it appears he is talking to himself before every putt.
Only, it's the way he’s talking to himself, and the language he uses, that was a key to him scoring well and ultimately taking home the trophy for the Champion Golfer of the Year.
How you talk to yourself when you are putting matters.
Playing at Sea Island, I hear these words often from other players, “I need to make this putt for par to stay even.”
The problem is that:
I need to=expectation language=burden
Make=desired result, and you do not have complete control over any result
For par to stay even=emotional qualifiers=adding drama
This is not how you want to think for the best mindset to SCORE BETTER.
What you want to do is think like a computer. Be the terminator of golf, if you will.
Stewart Cink is talking to himself but like a computer.
He is telling himself the distance, slope, and break of every putt because that is how a computer would describe it. 10ft, downhill, left to right, and then he would say something like, “I’m going to make a confident stroke.”
Going to=affirmative language
Make a confident stroke = a controllable action that will hopefully lead to the desired result.
You make many choices during a competitive round of golf (club, shot, trajectory, course management, etc). One of the most important is how you choose to talk to yourself. Choose your language wisely for the best result and you too can be bringing home the trophies!
Let the past go!
Players that work with a sports psychologist like me, learn a process to let a poor shot go because dwelling on it stops them from being in the present and they can’t play the next shot at their best.
If you’re still letting a poor shot impact your performance then you need to practice how to mentally let that shot go.
The “Bag-Up” principle is one adaptation of the Emotion Zone. It uses a physical boundary, the bag, to help players stay mentally composed after a poor shot. I coach players to practice doing something in a relaxed phase after a poor shot; this establishes that they’re done with the shot and can move on to the next phase (of the 4rs) once they pick up their bag and are in the present.
Having a sports psychologist work with you used to be a luxury and something only the pros could afford but now this has changed.
Now there is an affordable program that students of all levels can access on their phones. It’s the same program used by players with 29 PGA Tour wins, 4 major championships and 6 players ranked #1 in amateur and junior levels.
More players can now afford to incorporate mental practice and play more productively! The Score Better Video Program looks at the mental side of the game and you can join now and get your first month for free.