Do you know about Golf Psychology?
I love to play golf. And…I hate to play golf. No sport can be so amazingly fun one minute (like the day I scored a hole in one on a sweet little par 3) or so completely frustrating (like the next time when I scored a double bogey on the exact same hole) but there can be some Golf Psychology that you don’t know about! Most days I can’t wait to get to the course, and this past summer, my two young sons decided they wanted in on the action.
They’ve played a ton of mini-golf and spent endless hours at the driving range with me, but they had never gone out to “play a round.” We decided we would start small and hit the local 9-hole par 3 course.
I have to say I quickly remembered what my instructor told me when I started playing. He said, “When you play this sport don’t forget about golf psychology. It’s more than a game of skill. It’s a mental game and you have to play it like it is.” I was quick to impart these words of wisdom on my young boys (ages 10 and 11) and we loaded our clubs into the car and off we went.
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Understanding the Mental Game
We all have those days where we’re just not focused on the game of golf. We’re thinking about jobs, finances, family…you name it. Distractions are plenty. Or, how about when you start your game strong only to blow up on the 5th hole and never ever do you recover. It becomes a series of terrible shots and bogeys galore and let’s not talk about the final score. Your mental game needs to be strong.
My kids soon learned this. One was constantly distracted by the rock star golfers two holes behind us. “Whoa! Look at that! He’s on the green in one shot,” I heard him say as he stepped up to the box and shanked it out to the woods on the right side of the fairway. Yes, definitely not in it mentally.
My oldest was laser-focused for the first 6 holes. And then on hole 7 he shot a 10 (Remember: We were on a par 3 course). Ah, yes…let the meltdown begin. Holes 8 and 9 were equally ugly and we left the course with a few tears of frustration, but both of these instances led to a great discussion about overcoming mental roadblocks.
Overcoming Mental Roadblocks
I tried to use some of my great golf psychology on the course as my children were experiencing their, well, let’s call them “distractions.” With my youngest (Mr. Look At Those Golfers), we talked about needing to put your focus on the ball and on your own game. We discussed how we need to make our shots count and that while the occasional mulligan is acceptable with your mom, one day he’s going to play with some serious golfers who will make you play it like it lies.
For my oldest son, it was all about getting out of his head. Once he blew up on hole 7, he just couldn’t recover. He was stuck inside his head. All he could see were the bad shots and he wasn’t able to turn it around. This is a tough for all of us…and it’s definitely going to take many years of practice to master this.
My golf instructor always seemed to drill the idea of visualization into my head. He would say, “If you want to clear the water, then visualize clearing the water. Your swing will be smooth and powerful. Take your time. Think about what you’re doing. Think about what you want.” This is definitely easier said than done and one of the things I forgot to talk about with my kids until we got to hole 7 and full meltdown mode occurred. By then, it may have been too late, but at least I got him to slow down and think – even if he couldn’t get out of his head.
Ah, yes…strategizing is a skill, but it is also part of golf psychology. Sizing up the course, taking a look at the hole and picking your club are skills. But, they’re also part of the psychology of golf. You using a 3 wood when your golf partner has chosen a 5 iron can bring you great confidence and him great fear – depending on the situation. Playing at your home course should make you feel confident and ready to kick some butt. This is all golf psychology.
I picked a par 3 course for my kids to start at because it was beginner friendly and that’s what they needed. I helped them with their club selection so they could learn the whys of choosing a certain club over another. And, we talked about swinging your club with confidence because you should fear nothing when out on the course. After all, what’s the worst that could happen? A ball lost on the woods? Stuck in a sand trap? Lost in the pond? Those things happen…attack the course with no fear.
I’m not sure I was the most fabulous of instructors on our first outing, but I have two boys who really learned that golf is not just a game of skill. Golf is a mental game. Golf psychology needs to be practiced and practiced and practiced again. And guess what? We went again…and they not only put their skills to use, but some of the mental strategies, too.
So how about you? How do you use golf psychology on the course? Do you visualize? Do you give yourself pep talks? Do you succumb to the pressure? Be sure to comment below so all golfers can learn from you, or, at the very least, commiserate with you!
If you’re interested in learning more about Golf Psychology, be sure to check out International Open Academy’s newest course – GOLF PSYCHOLOGY. Designed for golfers of all skill levels, you’ll learn lots of strategies to help your mind – both on and off the golf course.