Mindset When Competing Against Top Golfers

How Do You Fare Against Top Competition?

Your level of play and how you evaluate your game depends on your mindset before the round even starts.

If you see yourself as “not belonging” at that level, you will compare yourself to other golfers while playing. Your emotions will fall and rise depending on the result of each shot and how well your group is playing.

For instance, you will feel ecstatic after a strong drive and chip shot, where you put yourself in position for birdie. However, you will feel deflated if you end up three-putting the hole. When you experience the roller coaster of emotions, you will feel mentally drained before the round ends.

After the tournament, you will continue the comparison game. Your head will be inundated by negative thoughts such as, “I’m not good enough. I can’t compete at this level.” You will frustrated and learn nothing from the experience.

Conversely, if you have a “growth mindset,” your focus will be on competing and learning. You will keep the focus on yourself instead of chasing scores or comparing yourself to other golfers as you go. 

Instead, you will be immersed in the process, playing each shot to the best of your abilities. You will put self-judgments or analysis on hold.

After a tournament, you will objectively evaluate your game, equally giving weight to your successes and areas needing improvement. The measuring stick in the growth mindset is your level of improvement between your previous performance and your last round.

A growth mindset in golf doesn’t just maintain confidence; it builds confidence.

Instead of judging yourself by your current level of play, you see what you can become. This mindset keeps you motivated to grow your mental and technical game daily.

With a growth mindset, your opponents’ scores mean less than the progress you are making throughout the season.

Mia Hammond, 15 years old, played her first LPGA tournament by qualifying for the 2023 Dana Open. Hammond, the youngest player in the tournament, finished 6-under and tied for 26th.

After the Open, Hammond was asked about her thoughts regarding playing with the best players in the world.

HAMMOND: “It’s just great to get an idea of where I personally need to improve. Everyone out here has amazing short games; they’re really, really great putters. That’s always been my weaker spots, and I see now that I need to put even more work in than I have been. But I’m excited to put the work in and see where it takes me.”

Before a tournament, you must have a “selfish” focus where your game revolves solely around you. In essence, nothing matters or exists but you and your current shot.

Having a narrow focus on you minimizes anxiety and keeps you mentally engaged, no matter who is playing in a tournament.

Mindsets are chosen, either consciously or unconsciously. To adopt a positive mindset, you need to review how your thoughts affected your play in the past. These thoughts provide insight into your competitive mindset.

If your mindset has not helped your game, you should take time to challenge what you believe is true and how changing your mindset might impact and improve future performances.

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Golfer’s Mental Edge 2.0

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