Sporting Bounce

Golf Psychology Online

There are few sports where the mental game is so important than golf. This holds whether you are a professional golfer on the PGA tour through to an amateur golfer who played once a week. In short golf psychology is crucial. You may be interested in hitting consistently good shots, recovering composure after hitting a bad shot, putting consistently, or simply enjoying your round of golf. Whatever aspect of your golf game there are plenty of sport psychology tips that can help you improve to play good golf. 

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. 

Female golfer lining up a putt

Improve Your Golf Psychology Game 

You can start your journey on mastering the mental game of golf with this comprehensive and informative online course. 

Buy Mastering the Mental Game of Golf Here

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, and someone who has worked with a number of PGA Professionals. We are excited about this unique golf psychology course filled with sport psychology tips and mental skills to help you improve your mental game. It may also be useful for golf coaches who can apply the skills to help their players develop. This golf psychology online course comprises audio material so you can listen at your convenience, and as all the material is online 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 should you respond after a bad shot? What type of pre shot routine is helpful? What does being mentally tough on the course look like? How would smart goal setting help in golf? What type of mental training is best for confidence or controlling anxiety? The practical activities and tips are underpinned by current research around the psychology of golf to really help you understand the psychology of this challenging but rewarding game.


But for now let's explore golf psychology in more detail. 

The 72nd hole of a major championship humbles many hopeful golfers expecting to win their first major championship. At the British Open championship at St Andrews in 1970, Doug Sanders missed a putt of fewer than three feet to win the Claret Jug. This error not only cost him millions of dollars in lost prize-money and endorsements but also the chance to win his first major tournament in golf. 

A player does not need to be on the 72nd hole of a major championship to feel the nerves, execute a careless shot or a make a poor decision. The psychology of golf is obvious to players at all levels. Because of this many golfers employ the services of a sport psychologist. This is true for club players, social players, junior players as well as those who are playing professionally. Our site has many consultants who have worked in golf and who have authored books on golf psychology

To illustrate how psychology can help golfers, let us consider the putt by Doug Sanders. His mistake was simple: he was thinking too far ahead rather than focusing on the task at hand: “I made the mistake about thinking which section of the crowd I was going to bow to! I had the victory speech prepared before the battle was over… I would give up every victory I had to have won that title. It’s amazing how many things to my normal routine I did on the 18th hole. There’s something for psychologists there, the way that the final hole of a major championship can alter the way a man thinks”. Though it is easy to explain the mistake Doug Sanders made, it’s much more difficult to correct it. We do not lose concentration – we misdirect it. If you think about your concentration as a torch shining a beam of light toward something, then it ought to point toward what you are doing rather than what you wish to avoid. On the 18th tee, we might regret what just happened on the 17th green or forecasting the outcome on the 18th hole; however, these thoughts are unlikely to help us to succeed on this tee shot. To overcome this dilemma, we need sensible strategies to improve our concentration and to stay in the present. Here are three practical tips to improve your concentration. 

First, develop and refine your pre-shot routine. Pre-shot routines work because the golfer learns to focus on task-relevant information (e.g., focusing on the back of the ball) rather than task-irrelevant information (e.g., thinking about the outcome of the shot). Your pre-shot routine helps you to prepare yourself physically and psychologically for the upcoming shot and play the shots you need time after time. 

Second, we can instruct ourselves about what we want to do. This instructional self-talk might be “smooth and low” to remind ourselves to create a wide takeaway on our backswing. Self-talk can maintain focus over 18 holes of playing golf and help us make consistent golf swings. 


Finally, we can practise in our minds what we wish to do on the golf course - this form of mental practice is known as mental imagery. Mental imagery allows us to rehearse physical actions (e.g., swinging a sand wedge) in our mind. Mental imagery is a vital skill for many players in professional golf, including Tiger Woods and famously was used by the 18-time major champion, Jack Nicklaus who said: “I never hit a shot, not even in practice, without having a very sharp, in-focus picture of it in my head. First, I see the ball where I want it to finish, nice and white and sitting up high on the bright green grass. Then the scene quickly changes, and I see the ball going there: its path, trajectory, and shape, even its behaviour on landing. Then there is a sort of fade-out, and the next scene shows me making the kind of swing that will turn the previous images into reality”. 

In summary, golf is a game played with the body but won in the mind. You might feel that much of what is written is common sense; however, a question to consider is this: Is it your common practice? If not that why not speak to an online sport psychologist and get some golf psychology coaching. Or master your golf psychology game by completing the 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.

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