How to Stay in the Present on the Course

golf mistakes

Focus Your Mind After a Bad Shot

Do you ever get trapped inside your head during a round of golf?

In other words, have you ever become so preoccupied by your thoughts that you couldn’t focus on your game?

The most unproductive place to be during a competitive round of golf is stuck in your mind ruminating or obsessing about thoughts and images that disrupt your focus.

Disruptive thoughts clutter your mind and complicate your ability to play your best golf.

In our Golf Mental Game Survey, a golfer raised a trouble area for many golfers:

“When I make a bad shot, how do I put it behind me fully and make a good shot next?”

Bad shots can lead to negative thoughts and unproductive intense motions. Focusing on your current shot is difficult when you have other thoughts and emotions competing for your attention. When you focus on the bad or negative, you make the bad even worse.

For example, when you miss an easy putt you may become angry and think, “How could I have missed that putt? What is wrong with my putting today?”

If you don’t correct your focus, you carry those negative images and thoughts to your next tee shot. The problem only worsens as your drive is way offline to the right. Now you compound the problem by carrying the memories of two bad shots with you to the next shot.

You feel frustrated and angry. Getting stuck in your head and reliving bad shots is a trap that is hard to recover from if you are not able to bury the past and re-focus on the present.

You have a choice between focusing on the past or the present or the bad shot or the next shot.

Letting go of the past may seem hard to do, but learning the mental skill of focusing on the present will dramatically improve your game.

Focusing is a learned mental skill. When you train your mind to let go and refocus, you will be more adept at recovering mentally and getting your game back on track.

LPGA 2015 Player-of-the-Year Lydia Ko has been working to improve her focus during tournaments.

Ko has been working with her swing coach to help her file away negative thoughts after a bad shot and re-focus on what matters.

KO: “We’ve all been playing the game for so long, so sometimes (you say), ‘Man, where did that [bad shot] come from?’ I think it’s just as important to kind of clear those questions in your head like mentally and philosophically… where I just kind of [dig a hole and] bury it and then just walk away and try and not think about it again.”

You have played the game long enough to gain a natural feel for swinging the club freely. Focusing on bad shots takes you out of your game and makes the challenging game even more challenging.

Getting the monkey off your back and choosing to focus on the current shot puts you in position to play on with composure.

How to Clear Your Mind After a Bad Shot:

Letting go of bad shots is an important mental skill you can develop or improve.

Try using short imagery to help move on from the past shot such as swiping on the mistakes, turning the page, or throwing it in a trash can and putting the lid on the can.

You are in charge and can make a conscious choice to put the shot behind you, focus forward, and get to the next shot without a split focus.

Related Golf Psychology Articles

Discover How to Break the Yips Cycle

Breaking the Golf Yips Cycle

know you are frustrated with your putting, chipping, or pitching and have considered giving up the game you once loved to play. But before you make that decision, read what I have to say about how I help golfers overcome the yips….

The first place to begin to break the Yips Cycle is to admit that the yips are a mental issue. Stabbing or flinching at impact are symptoms of bigger issues: fear and over control. Changing your grip, putter, swing, club, or routine are only temporary Band-Aids to a mental game issue.

Breaking The Yips Cycle” is a complete brain dump of the TOP NINE mental training sessions I do with my personal coaching students to help them overcome the yips and play with freedom again!

Leave a Comment