How to Handle Disappointment During a Round of Golf

How to Handle Disappointment During a Round of Golf

 How proficient are you in handling disappointment during a round of golf?

It’s one thing to have a bad day on the golf course. A bad bounce or errant shot may not be overly upsetting when your game isn’t clicking.

However, an unfortunate roll or wayward shot can be maddening when you are playing well and are in contention to win a tournament or shoot your best score.

If you cannot quickly manage frustration, your negative emotions will escalate, and your performance will decline.

In our Golf Mental Game Survey, a golfer asked:

“When I hit a solid straight shot, but the result unexpectedly turns out poorly, how can I put it behind me and focus on making a good shot on my next one?”

Every golfer, at one point or another, has faced this circumstance. You can probably relate to the following. 

You are playing effortlessly and on top of your game. You feel confident standing over the ball as if nothing can go wrong. Then, on the 9th hole, you hit a 25-yard chip shot that hits the green, gathers speed, and the ball rolls past the hole seven yards downhill.

In these situations, disappointment and frustration can take over your game.

Instead of moving on to the next shot, you are mentally stuck ruminating over your “bad luck.” You think, “Why does this always happen to me? I was playing the best round of my life and now I have no chance of having a top finish.”

No golfer would be pleased in this scenario, but what separates the great from the good golfers is their ability to handle disappointment and regain composure.

Take, for instance, six-time PGA Tour winner Max Homa, who played some of the best golf in his career at the 2024 Masters with a two-day six-under total.

HOMA: “I think regardless of outcome, I’d like to maintain this outlook I have on how I’m playing golf. Good shot, bad shot, doesn’t really matter. Did I go through my process? Did I commit to my shot? And once it takes off, I might as well close my eyes. I’d like to see if I can continue to do that this weekend.”

Heading into the final round, Homa was two back from leader Scottie Scheffler and in contention for victory. 

On the 12th hole, Homa hit what he thought was a good shot into the center of the 12th green. However, Homa’s shot bounded off the greens and into a bush. 

Homa eventually double-bogeyed the hole, effectively ending his bid for his first major title. Eventually, Homa finished tied for third, seven shots back of the winner.

Homa was understandably disappointed. After the round, Homa was asked about his feelings regarding the unfortunate outcome of the 12th hole.

HOMA: “The honest answer is, it didn’t feel fair. I hit a really good golf shot, and it didn’t feel fair. I’ve seen far worse; [It] just roll back down the hill. The professional answer is, these things happen.”

There are several mental keys to handling disappointment during a round of golf.

  • Stay Positive – Golf is mentally and emotionally demanding. Maintaining a positive attitude can help you quickly process unfortunate circumstances.
  • Shed the Need to Be Perfect – No golfer plays perfect golf. When you make a mistake or face an unfortunate result, assess the feedback and move on.
  • Keep Your Emotions in Check – Disappointment is a natural response after an unfortunate outcome. However, if you allow your emotions to run wild, those emotions will take over your game. It is essential to quickly regain your composure and refocus on your next shot.
  • Stay Present—Do not allow one unfortunate bad shot to ruin your next shot or the rest of the round. Stay focused on the present moment and concentrate on one shot at a time.

Managing disappointment is a mental skill that helps quell negative emotions and refocus on what is in front of you.

Acceptance is essential. Acceptance is the first step toward moving on and refocusing. After an unfortunate outcome or unlucky bounce, acknowledge that these results happen to every golfer, even professionals. 

Take a couple of deep breaths and remind yourself to refocus.

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Golfer’s Mental Edge 2.0

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

Successful golfers have learned how to perform with ultimate confidence in competition, so we’ve developed The Golfer’s Mental Edge 2.0 Workbook and Audio program to help you do this! 

The Golfer’s Mental Edge 2.0 program includes the top 11 mental training sessions I do with my personal students to help them boost their mental game and improve consistency on the course!

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