Overcoming Pressure and Nerves in Golf
Which phrase best describe you on the golf course: ‘calm and composed’ or ‘nervous and flustered’?
If you answered ‘nervous and flustered’, you can probably recall many times when feelings of nervousness sent your game into a tailspin.
One of the biggest reason golfers fall prey to nervousness during a round is that they are too focused on how other golfers around them are performing–golfers on the leaderboard or in their group.
When a nervous golfer sees other golfers shooting lower scores or scoring birdie on a hole, they often try to do too much…
The nervous golfer tries to match scores by trying to hit the perfect shot even though he lacks the confidence in his ability to make the shot…
This approach leads to increased anxiety, inaccuracy and overwhelming frustration.
A better approach is to play the golf course, as if you were in a bubble.
Focusing on your game will lessen the pressure you place on yourself by eliminating the need to replicate the scores of other golfers you are playing against.
Without the added pressure, that overwhelming nervousness will subside.
Nervousness is not just problematic for recreational and amateur golfers.
Even tour golfers need to find ways to manage nerves.
For example, Annie Park, the No. 236 player in the world, kept her nerves at bay and won the 2018 ShopRite LPGA Classic.
There are plenty of factors that could have sparked excessive nervousness for Park, such as; only having partial status on the Tour and other golfers surging up the leaderboard during the final round.
Although Park admitted to some degree of nerves, she stayed calm, poised and focused, preventing her nervousness from spiraling out of control and taking over her game.
Park made six birdies and an eagle over her first 14 holes and four pars over the last four holes during the last round to get to 16 under.
Park’s sole focus on what she was doing was the major contributing factor to her one-stroke victory.
PARK: “I was definitely nervous out there. It’s golf and you’re leading. It’s kind of normal. But, I mean, I’ve won three tournaments on the Symetra and won national NCAAs, so I think all these wins kind of helped me have the experience.”
“So I was just focusing on trying to make my putts, hit some great shots… But I really wanted to beat my personal record, 8-under, and so was that basically what was going on through my head the whole time.”
Park employed several effective strategies to keep her in her bubble, focus on her game and manage her nerves:
- Park accepted her nerves. Park understood that nerves are a part of the game.
- Park relied on her past experiences to give her the confidence to perform under pressure.
- Park focused on bettering HER score.
These strategies can also work for you too.
Take control of your game by winning out over nerves.
Tip for Winning the Nerves Game:
Prepare ahead of time and don’t wait until it’s crunch time. Decide on a strategy, such as playing the game within the game, to help you manage your nerves before you find yourself in the lead.
Practice your strategy beforehand when there is less pressure.
The more comfortable you are with that strategy, the better you will be able to effectively apply it to manage your nerves when it matters most.
Learn all my mental game strategies with The Golfer’s Mental Edge:
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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?
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“Dr. Cohn has helped me improve confidence and build a consistence pre-shot routine that helps me stay confident, and learn how to play one shot at a time during competition. He also taught me that I don’t have to hit every shot perfect to score well.”
~Brian Belden, Winner 2003 AJGA Steel City Junior Classic & Marsh Junior at Hawk Pointe
“I would like to thank you again for our last mental coaching session, which did offer me yesterday my personal best round ever! On a golf course where I had never scored better than 77, I scored a 73 in competition. I cannot believe the incredible inner work this simple session has produced on me and I would like to thank you again for that.”
~Emmanuel Grizaud, Amateur Golfer
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~Jim Dahline, PGA Professional
“Last weekend Lisa played in a Florida Junior Golf Association tournament in Gainesville. She played great and won (74-70=144) over 43 other competitors! She’s starting to really believe in herself and her stats are improving each tournament. She is thinking better and making much smarter decisions on the course. Thanks again for your help Dr. Cohn.”
~Scott Tyler, Father of Lisa Tyler