How to Deal with Distractions on the Golf Course

Learning to Refocus on the Course

Do you become distracted during a round of golf and does it happen while standing over the ball?

What are the specific distractions that affect you most as you go through your preshot routine?

Distractions are everywhere on the golf course. Some distractions you may be aware of such as anger after hitting the ball into a sand trap, the fear of missing a four-foot putt or self-critical negative thoughts. But these are more than distractions when you’re fearful or dwelling on the past.

Other distractions are more subtle but equally disruptive such as spectator noise, crowd movements, or playing on bumpy greens.

Over the course of 18 holes, your mind can be bombarded and overtaken by external and internal distractions if you are not ready to manage them and re-focus.

Now that golf courses are slowly re-opening following months of closure, you will need to get mentally and physically ready to play.

Special restrictions will be in place to keep all golfers safe from the coronavirus, one of which will be playing with no spectators.

If you see spectators as a distraction, you may be excited to play under that condition. On the other hand, many golfers feed off the reactions of spectators and will see this new restriction as a distraction.

No matter what side of the fence you are on, you should understand that spectators should not become a distraction. Spectators only become a distraction when your focus on their presence pulls your attention away from your game. Your inability to refocus can help you cope better with external distractions.

Here’s the kicker when it comes to distractions… If you have difficulty focusing due to spectators, even when this distraction is removed, you will often entertain other distractions.

If you want to improve your mind game, then you’ll need to develop the mental skill of refocusing.

For example, LPGA golfers are slowly starting to prepare mentally and physically for the restart of the competitive season under the “new normal” conditions. LPGA No. 1 Jin Young Ko played against LPGA No. 3 LPGA Sung Hyun Park to raise money for charity and stay sharp for the possible restart of the season.

Ko, who has fed off the crowd in past, will need to stay focused without spectators.

KO: “It’s been a long time since I played game without fan reaction. It’s become a habit to shake hands. There were some awkward holes because no one responded to my play. It was a pity that I couldn’t hear the cheers and applause. I hope that this situation will get better soon so that I can see many people on the course.”

Every golfer gets distracted during a round of golf. And you probably have your most common ones. Playing well requires you focus well during your preshot routine and refocus when necessary.

Staying Focused on the Golf Course

First, you want to define the mental and physical steps in your preshot routine so you know exactly what to focus on–from planning to execution of the shot.

Next, be aware of your top distractions as you go through the routine. These include:

  • Outcome thinking
  • Indecision
  • Doubt
  • Focusing on external distractions
  • Over thinking

Finally, be aware and ready to refocus or restart your routine when you notice that you are not following your normal routine, such as when you worry about missing a short putt.

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