Are Your Expectations too High in Golf

What do others expect from you when you play golf?

Are the expectations to win high? 

With early success in a golfer’s career comes high expectations from those around you. The expectation is to continue to win, reach the top of the rankings, and never have an off day.

Imagine the pressure of playing a round of golf with the belief you have to win or shoot under 70 in every round. 

Every time you hit a tee shot off course, the pressure would mount to hit the perfect recovery shot. You would believe that bogeying is not an option. Hitting a bad shot or pushing a putt wide of the cup is unacceptable.

You would carry overwhelming amounts of fear and anxiety from hole to hole, and your emotions would be all over the place. 

When you are playing well, you feel confident, but at the first sign of trouble, you become frustrated, angry, or hopeless, and your confidence slowly dissipates. Intrusive thoughts would throw off your focus.

Instead of considering the variables and identifying a strategy for hitting the best shot possible, you pay strict attention to unproductive thoughts such as “What if I overshoot the greens?” “I can’t afford to lose another stroke this late in the round.” “I will disappoint everyone who expects me to win.” “This is the point where my game falls apart.”

Taking on excessively high expectations takes an already challenging game and makes it practically impossible. However, you don’t have to take on the expectations of others. Let their expectations be theirs and tune out the noise. 

Instead, keep your focus fixed on the process of becoming the best golfer you can. When you practice, immerse yourself in developing your game’s technical and mental aspects.

When you play competitive rounds, tune out the outside world and create a mental bubble around yourself. The only things that matter are you, the ball, the hole, and your current shot strategy. Shooting for perfection derails peak performance.

Instead, peak performance is the culmination of playing each shot the best you can, given the circumstances. In other words, instead of worrying about your end score, ranking, or pleasing others, devote all your energy and attention to the shot before you. 

LPGA golfer Rose Zhang is in her first full year as a professional, and the golf world’s expectations are excessively high. Zhang won an NCAA individual title while at Stanford and spent a record 141 weeks as the top-ranked female amateur in the world.

In her first professional event, Zhang won the 2023 Mizuho Americas Open in a playoff to become the first woman to win her pro debut since 1951. Despite being 21 years old, Zhang is seen as the next big thing in the women’s game. 

Zhang understands expectations are high but knows personal success is self-defined and requires a process-oriented focus.

ZHANG: “I think there’s a lot of expectation in terms of how I should perform but in my opinion, that’s all noise. I definitely feel like I am capable of being at the top. But to get to that level, it requires everything from a good team to good practice and good preparation routine. And managing everything involved with the mental and physical side of golf. So I think I’m getting there.”

Instead of taking on the expectations of others, Zhang has simplified her approach to the game. 

ZHANG: “There’s a lot that I want to accomplish. But in order to do so, I realized how important it is to manage my time, my team, and my presence in being able to play. So it’s more so focusing on just one thing at a time and allowing myself to be able to compete in the best way that I can.”

Managing high expectations in golf can be challenging. Of course, you want positive results, to win, and for your hard work to pay off.

However, success in golf requires tuning out the outside noise and working towards continual improvement. 

Understand the process. Write down what the process means to you. What is your perspective on mistakes, having a bad round, practice performance, and improvement?

Remind yourself that your process is more important than the expectations of others.

We find that what you think others expect of you are more in your head than reality.

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Breaking The Golf Putting and Chipping Yips Cycle

Breaking the Golf Yips Cycle

“Breaking the Yips Cycle” video and workbook program helps you overcome frustration with your putting, chipping or pitching. Learn how to improve your mental game and overcome fear so that you can putt and chip freely and consistently without the yips. Get Dr. Cohn’s mental game secrets to overcoming the yips on the course and playing more freely in competition.

“I wanted to tell you I have broken out of the yips short putt issues. I have won 2 of the last 3 competitions. Right now, my putting confidence is sky-high. I HAD the putt yips for the past 6 years. I contribute the success to two of your drills. First, focus hard on the hole, forget about all else. It took a while to get the 100% focus, but I could see the results coming. Your advice ‘Let go and trust your ability’ gave immediate results. Wow what a relief. Having putted for so long under yip pressure, I now feel I can be put under extreme pressure to win the club championship. I now look forward to short putts.” 
~Ian Dodd

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