Stable Mindset on the Golf Course

Bad shots in Golf

Always Prepare for the Unexpected

How do you handle the ups and downs in golf? Do you become overly focused on bad shots, which hurts your play later in a round?

This occurrence is more common than you may think…

You see that scenario occur even in PGA and LPGA tournaments. A golfer is playing lights out through the front-nine with a score in the low 30s. On the tenth hole, he hits an errant tee shot and double bogeys. That’s when the bottom drops out. He can’t seem to regain his rhythm and bogeys several more holes on the back-nine.

What happened? Did his mechanics dramatically change? Did he suddenly lose his ability to play golf? Absolutely not! The change in performance is due to mental interference.

In our Golf Mental Game Survey, an amateur golfer asked the following question:

“How is it that one bad stroke early in a round can affect my game for the next 10-12 holes? What can I do to rebound in these situations?”

Golf can be unpredictable at times. An unfortunate bounce can lead to a double or triple bogey. Even when you are playing great golf on the front-nine, bad breaks can happen. 

Think of a time when a lousy hole broke your concentration, and your thoughts became intrusive, “What just happened? I was playing so well. Now, I need to make up for the strokes I lost.”

When you played the front nine, you felt no pressure and played the best golf of your life. Then, you allowed one shot to interfere with your focus and interrupt your performance.

You put more pressure on yourself to “find your way back” or “regain your rhythm.” You became preoccupied with anxious thoughts resulting in uncharacteristic mistakes.

Your performance will suffer when you are preoccupied with past shots, second-guessing your shots, or overthinking.

However, the opposite is also true. When you are not preoccupied or overthinking, performance tends to improve. This “go with the flow” mindset is the most productive mindset for golfers.

PGA professional Matthew Wolff has retooled his mindset and is focused on going with the flow during tournaments. At the 2021 Worldwide Technology Championship, Matthew Wolff shot a record 61 in the first round, including five birdies, and finished the tournament tied for fifth.

Wolff has worked on just playing the game instead of over-thinking current shots or mentally replaying past shots.

WOLFF: “I’m really confident in my game right now, and I’ve proven over time when stuff goes well, and I am confident I can kind of carry it over. So right now, my swing feels really good, my head’s in a good spot, and I’m just happy to be out here regardless of the result… And it’s not easy, and there’s a lot of up-and-downs, but you’ve just kind of got to go with it, and that’s something I’m learning as I’m getting older and being out here longer.”

For your “head to be in a good spot,” you should realize that the unexpected will happen. 

You can always choose not to allow the unexpected to take over your mind no matter your circumstances.

Managing Your Reaction to a Bad Shot

One way to stop overthinking is to take a deep breath after each shot. Focusing on breathing relaxes the mind and body and helps you stay grounded in the present.

Another way to process a bad shot is to not analyze what’s wrong with your swing which leads to over thinking. Nothing may be wrong with your swing. Instead take a practice swing and feel the shot you wanted to hit and move on!

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