How Ally McDonald Overcame Negative Thoughts to Win

overcome negativity in golf

Learn to Refocus Your Negativity

How often have negative thoughts thrown you off your golf game?

If you are honest with yourself, you probably would admit that in every round of golf you have played, negative thoughts popped up in your head. You might even have times when negative thoughts didn’t hurt your game.

How is that possible? Doesn’t one negative thought lead to another and another and another?

Negative thoughts are just thoughts. The problem is when you pay too much attention to those negative thoughts. When you focus on negative thoughts, it gives those thoughts power and disrupts your game.

The impact on performance depends on whether you are able to discard negative thoughts and quickly regain your focus… Or whether you allow negative thoughts to take control and pull your focus away from your game.

A collegiate golfer from our Golf Mental Game Survey requested help for when negative thoughts pop up in her head during a round:

“How can I keep confidence up and not think negatively about my ability when I’m in the middle of a round?”

How you think on the course affects your confidence. When you are driving the ball well, having a strong short game and putting accurately, your thoughts are primarily positive and your confidence is high. You just play the game, trusting you can make even the most difficult shots.

When you focus on the few bad shots you hit, bad breaks, ones that you usually hit well, your thoughts can become negative and disruptive such as, “Why am I playing so bad? How could I have just triple-bogeyed? I always fall apart in the middle of a round.”

Your negative thoughts cause you to have doubt about your next shot. You can’t figure out why you were having a tough time when you were just playing some of your best golf a few minutes ago.

Interrupting mental distractions led the way for Ally McDonald to win her first Tour title at the 2020 LPGA Drive On Championship. McDonald held off Danielle Kang to close with a 3-under 69 for a 16-under 272.

McDonald was able to maintain her composure and not allow negative thoughts to affect her play, even after bogeying the 17th hole in the final round. McDonald’s confidence in her abilities helped her re-gain her focus to win by 1-stroke.

McDONALD: “I’m not going to lie, it shook me up pretty bad. I had to gather myself and get my heart rate under control after I made bogey on 13 and Danielle went back to back on birdies on 13 and 14. I just told myself to calm down and do what I’ve been doing every single round, and that is just trying to execute my game plan and control what I can.”

When you recognize negative thoughts, you can choose to let go of those thoughts and refocus. By learning how to interrupt negative thoughts and refocus, you can rebound from mistakes or bad shots and get back to your game.

How to Interrupt Negative Thoughts:

All golfers have thoughts that pop up in their heads, but a negative thought does not have to take over your game.

Use the ABCD strategy to help you refocus:

Awareness — Recognize early when negative thoughts pop up.
Breathe — Take a deep breath.
Calm — Stay calm mentally and physically.
Direct — Redirect your thoughts to the next shot.

We help golfers of all levels learn how to be more proactive with confidence and have stable confidence. Please contact us for more information.

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