Golfers who Play to Lose Instead of Win

Why you Shouldn’t Play it Safe

How difficult is it for you to play with the lead as a round is coming to a close?

You would think it is easy having the lead but, for many golfers, there is an increased sense of pressure that comes with holding onto a lead.

Many golfers fear losing the lead or imploding during the round…

With one eye of the leader board, golfers playing with the lead can become more and more nervous as they see their lead shrink. When a golfer is in this type of position, they tend to play it overly safe which allows other golfers to climb back into contention.

This type of mindset is called the Play to NOT lose or Play It Safe mindset.

With this mindset, nerves, pressure and tension increase drastically making it more difficult than ever to just focus on playing your game.

The alternative to playing it safe is playing to win or focusing on success with each shot.

Playing to win requires that you overcome distractions, such as your overall score, the scores of other players, golfers that are surging up the leader board, your last bogey, the emotions you are experiencing, etc.

Playing to win is a matter of immersing yourself in the moment without over thinking or over analyzing your game.

When you play to win, you are still aware of your lead but you are not overly-focused on trying to maintain the lead.

Instead, when you play to win, you are trusting in your game fully and focused on the shot at hand.

Effectively managing the pressure of having the lead is what helped Brooks Koepka win the 2019 PGA Championship after entering the Final Round with a 7-stroke lead.

Despite a 7-stroke lead, Koepka only won by 2-strokes after shooting 4-over par on the final day of the tournament.

Koepka talked about the challenges that accompanied playing with the lead.

KOEPKA: “I think playing with the lead is a different feeling. It’s very difficult. You want to extend it. But also, you’re not trying to — you’re not trying to come back to the field, so every time you make a bogey, you’re kind of thinking, I’m bringing everybody back; I keep coming back, why am I doing this, what’s going on.”

Koepka set goals throughout the final round while having the lead in order to keep focused on playing to win.

KOEPKA: “I think playing with a lead is a little bit tougher [than playing from behind]. It’s easier in the sense of you know that you can afford mistakes, and you’ve just got to stay mentally sharp. I think you have to be sharper mentally when you have such a big lead that you still have to set goals. You still have to, okay, I still need to go out and go play.”

Playing with the lead may be challenging with pressure, but it if you focus on what truly matters, you can remain mentally sharp enough to finish out the round strong.

How to Focus when Playing with the Lead:

Avoid protecting your lead or slamming on the breaks to not make mistakes–this is playing to not lose. You have to keep the pedal to the medal.

Challenge yourself to go for your targets and set up birdie chances on the remaining holes.

Avoid focusing on outcomes and think about each hole as a new round, each shot at a new challenge.

Learn Proven Strategies to Perform with Confidence!

Golfers Mental Edge

Do you suffer from fragile self-confidence after missed hits, playing with strict or high expectations that undermine confidence or the inability to play freely and relaxed on the course?

If you suffer from lack of focus, low self-confidence or other mental game obstacles on the course, you cant reach your true golf potential…

Successful golfers have learned how to perform with ultimate confidence in competition, so we’ve developed The Golfer’s Mental Edge Workbook and CD program to help you do this! 

The Golfer’s Mental Edge program includes the top 8 mental training sessions I do with my personal students to help them boost their mental game and improve consistency on the course.

The Golfer’s Mental Edge program includes 8 confidence-boosting CDs, MP3 audio recordings and an 8-session golfer’s mental edge workbook.

The Golfer’s Mental Edge: An 8-Week Plan for Ultimate Confidence

Boost Your Self-Confidence And Focus With Expert Mental Game Coaching!

Master mental game coach Dr. Patrick Cohn can help you overcome your mental game issues with personal coaching.

You can work with Dr. Patrick Cohn himself in Orlando, Florida or via Skype, FaceTime, or telephone. Call us toll free at 888-742-7225 or contact us for more information about the different coaching programs we offer!

What are our mental coaching students saying?

“To play well, you have to believe you can play well. Confidence goes a long way in golf.  Patrick has developed a great system for helping me improve confidence and my overall mental approach to golf.”*
~Brian Watts, 11-time Winner on the PGA Japan Tour

“The mental side is everything in golf—the ability to see your shot or line and trust that you can hit that shot or putt. Dr. Cohn has helped me trust my game and putting stroke.”*
~Frank Lickliter, PGA Tour, Nike Tour Winner


*Testimonials found on this site are examples of what we have done for other clients, and what some of our clients have said about us. However, we cannot guarantee the results in any case. Your results may vary and every situation is different. No compensation was provided for these testimonials.

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