Your Mental Game in Difficult Course Conditions

How to Turn Difficult into a Challenge

What increases your anxiety level during a round of golf?

Does it happen when you perceive a course to be difficult?

Golfers attribute many factors to increased anxiety: bad weather, slow greens, deep bunkers, tree-lined fairways and daunting water hazards to name a few.

That anxiety leads to apprehension and fear prior to every shot.

Anxious golfers will second-guess each shot and often opt for being overly cautious on each hole.

Instead of swinging freely, anxious golfers tend to be tight and tense. Their swings become much more mechanical as they try to direct the ball on each shot which leads to poor results the majority of the time.

The anxiety and poor play are preceded by the mind perceiving the course to be “excessively difficult” or “nearly impossible”.

When it comes to perception, there are always multiple options with each option producing different results.

Instead of perceiving the course as nearly impossible, imagine if you perceived the course as a challenge.

Perceiving something as a challenge helps you feel excitement and anticipation. The excitement of a challenge fosters a go-for-it mentality.

For example, if your friend challenges you to sink a ten-foot putt on slick greens and windy conditions, you would most likely not back down. You would step up to that putt with an “I’ll show you” mentality and just “go for it”.

To some degree, the same happens when you view a difficult round of golf with that same positive perspective. The excitement of a challenge keeps your focus on the shot at hand and not on the difficulty of the shot.

A challenge is exactly how Charley Hull perceived the conditions during the 2019 LPGA Mediheal Championship at the Lake Merced Golf Club in California.

The conditions during the tournament included challenging hole locations, bumpy greens, wind and cold temperatures.

When asked about the conditions at the tournament, Hull seemed to be excited by the challenges the tournament presented.

HULL: “I love this golf course, because it’s long and it’s tight. I prefer the harder golf courses. I wish we played more of them. I like them when the rough is long, when the courses are long and they’re tricky.”

Hull stayed in contention during the tournament, finishing tied for fourth only 2 strokes behind Sei Young Kim who won the tournament.

Complaining about a course or approaching a round with dread is a waste of time and places you in the wrong frame of mind…

When you perceive each shot as a challenge, you have positive feelings and improved performance.

Embracing Difficult Courses or Conditions:

Instead of having an “oh-no” approach to a round of golf, tell yourself, “enjoy the challenge.”

Ignore the fact that you are playing against a field of golfers and, instead, play a game within the game. Challenge yourself during each shot and see if you can rise up to that challenge.

This approach will keep your focus on you and not on the tournament conditions.

Remember that half the field will hate the conditions and the other half will embrace the conditions. Which half do you want to be on?

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Golfer’s Mental Edge 2.0

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