How a Strong Mental Approach Will Help Your Game
By Tony Schumacher
Over the years as I have played with and taught amateur golfers, I’ve noticed that for many the mental approach to the game is where they struggle most. There is an old adage that your round of golf is always broken up into 3 different parts. The first 6 holes are all your preparation, the middle 6 holes are your mental strength and the final 6 holes are your endurance. How many times have you started out your round with a string of pars or been 1 over through 7, only to double and triple bogey the next 3 holes and ruin your round? That one shot begins to creep into your head and you begin trying to fix your swing to make sure that whatever has happened does not happen again. This is where almost all amateurs fail. You must learn to avoid the fear and frustration that often creep into our minds during a difficult round of golf. Here are 5 simple tips to make your mental game stronger and break through your mental collapses on the course.
1) Pre-Shot Routine
After winning the British Open in 2014, Rory McIlroy said he focused on two things during the tournament: process and spot. His pre-shot routine (or process) was arguably the most important part of his win that week. Developing a pre-shot routine will keep your mind occupied with process and fear will not have any time to creep in. Fear is what makes a great player turn a round into a disaster. A pre-shot routine can keep your head from becoming filled with fear. Whether that is your next shot or the fear of repeating what just went wrong on the previous hole, avoid fear all together by settling in to your pre-shot routine.
2) The Dimple
Once you have completed your pre-shot routine all that is left is to hit the shot. But where are you actually looking as you hit your shot? The most common response is “I don’t know.” What you need to do is clear your mind and stare directly at a dimple on the ball. Focus on only hitting that dimple and go.
While you are moving on to your next shot, talking about something other than your round will help you stay relaxed. Don’t over think holes you have already played or shots you wish you could take back. Counting backwards as you walk or counting the steps you take will help keep your mind occupied and keep you calm for your next shot.
4) Go-To Shot
Inevitably golf at one point or another will cause you to hit a bad shot; it even happens to the professionals. This is where your “go-to shot” will need to be used. This is a shot that you can always count on to have acceptable distance and accuracy. Getting off that bogey train is a must for your mental game and you will need to develop a go-to shot that you can always count on. For some, the go-to shot might be a 6-iron they can play from any lie. For others, maybe it’s an 8-iron. Regardless, this shot will help you build up confidence and momentum for your round to get you back on track.
5) Pre-Round Strategy
Many amateurs do not know what club to hit off the tee to avoid the hazards of the course. Much of the time golfers step up to the tee and try to hit it as far as they can to leave a shorter shot into the green. This is not always the best idea! A simple pre-round strategy will help you eliminate the simple errors that build up in your mind and cause your big scores. Make sure to always know how far it is to the water hazard or bunkers before hitting your shot. Decide what tee-shot will give you the best approach to the green on each hole and what club you need to hit. That way you can step up to every shot with confidence and play your round without any fear around the course.
There you have it – 5 simple tips to improve your mental golf game. Try these out next time you’re on the golf course and talk to your local GolfTEC Certified Personal Coach today to put together your customized game plan for all areas of your golf game!
Colorado AvidGolfer Magazine is the state’s leading resource for golf and the lifestyle that surrounds it, publishing eight issues annually and proudly delivering daily content via coloradoavidgolfer.com.