Mastering The Mental Game of Golf

Golf Psychology Online

Golf DrivingGolf is a challenging game psychologically for several reasons. First, golf is an untimed event so players spend however long it takes to complete the round. Second, golfers are participants and spectators in the game. These twin roles mean that while golfers take part in the game, they also watch their competitors as they play their shots. Third, most golfers play the game on their own without the help of a coach if things will not go to plan. Touring professionals have a caddy to help them; however, there are challenges to developing and maintaining good relations between them. Fourth, golfers might spend three to four hours on a golfer course, yet their time spent hitting shots lasts but a few minutes. These hours are often spent worrying about what will happen or regretting what has happened. Finally, golfers spend most of their lives practising for competition but only a tiny percentage of their total time in the game competing. These psychological challenges mean golfers need to prepare for the mental challenge of golf to cope best when it matters most. And if you are interested in learning more about golf psychology then we have a great course for you.

Here at Sporting Bounce we have partnered with the Sport Psych Lab to bring you a series of courses and Masterclasses in sport psychology to help you achieve your full potential. The course on Mastering the Mental Game of Golf has been prepared by leading golf psychologist Dr Paul McCarthy, the first resident sport psychologist at the home of golf St Andrews. We are excited about this unique golf psychology course filled with sport psychology tips and mental skills to help you improve your mental game. The course itself comprises audio material so you can listen at your convenience, and as all the material is online for the course you can download to use anywhere. The course has been developed to have a practical approach to dealing with common challenges on the golf course, such as how to respond after a bad shot, what type of pre shot routine is helpful? what type of mental training is best for confidence or controlling anxiety? The practical tips are underpinned by current research around the psychology of golf to really help you understand the psychology of this challenging but reading game.

So let's explore the course in a little more detail. Whether you are a junior golfer, club golfer, aspiring to or playing on the PGA tour or European tour you will appreciate the psychology of golf. What is interesting however is most golfers, however, do not devote as much time to their mental fitness as they do to their physical fitness or technical development. Any sensible analysis of the game would suggest time spent improving mental fitness will pay dividends when the golfers need to cope with the demands of competitive golf. Rather than spending more time to improve mental fitness, it’s better to weave mental fitness into your physical fitness and technical practice time. One of the key aims of this series of lessons is to build your mental fitness within the time you already spend on golf.

The first challenge is to think better more often. To achieve this goal, we need to pay attention to how we think when we practise and play golf. We want you to listen to how you speak to yourself. Once you know the content of your conversations with yourself, you can take simple steps to think more helpfully. It’s common for many golfers to think “I’m no good under pressure” or “when I need to drive it straight I tighten up and pull it left” or “I can’t trust my putting stroke on short putts”. What we need to know is how do these thoughts influence your confidence, concentration and motivation to practise and improve your golf.

When we pay attention to our thoughts, we can see what our thoughts are telling us about ourselves. Not all of our thoughts are unhelpful or destructive to our game. We are being good detectives trying to understand the connection among our thoughts, our feelings and our actions. Research shows that when our conversations with ourselves attack our personality, our characteristics and our attributes we feel less confident. When we feel less confident, we also feel more anxious and uncertain about the future challenges in the game which creates a cycle that repeats itself again and again. 

The goal for us in this lesson is to notice the pattern of our thoughts, feelings and actions. For example, when I tell myself “I’m hopeless, I can’t make this putt”, what happens? Does this conversation fill me with confidence to make the putt or fill me with the fear that I will miss it? Most golfers find that encouraging themselves to focus on the processes their golf coach taught them works best. An example of one of these processes might be “eyes on the back of the ball”.  Another helpful guide is to ask yourself: would a good coach speak to me in the way I’m speaking to myself? If the answer to this question is no, then think about what a good coach might say to you. It’s most likely that a good coach will encourage, support and help you to succeed.

All the work we do with golfers is simple, seamless and repeatable. We distil thousands of research articles to find the best ways to help golfers to help themselves. We always begin by developing open and trusting relationships with the golfers we support. From this position, we work tirelessly to establish what works for the golfer in front of us.

So if you are interested in understanding taking the opportunity to explore golf psychology online and improve your mental game then take the exciting and transformational course on Mastering the Mental Game of Golf.  

Professional Tip: Professional golfers we help on tour pay attention to their conversations they have with themselves. They pay attention to the conversations that help and the conversations that hurt. They let the conversations that hurt pass by and pay little attention to them. They repeat the conversations that help practice and play their best more often.