The mental side of golf: What you say affects what you do
I guess we are all guilty of the odd expletive on the golf course. After all, this is probably the most frustrating past time ever invented. But we are also aware that sudden explosions of emotion and verbiage affect our play… and not in a positive way! Do we think that “getting that off our chest” releases the frustration and pressure and leads to a calming down? Well, bad news, our survey says NO, that is not what happens.
Instead, it works the opposite way round, pretty much like most things in the game. It is called in the trade: Negative Self Talk. Expressions like, “every time I play this hole/club/shot I always make a mess of it”. Or “I was fine on the range, but I cannot get it going today” or “my putting hasn’t been good for ages” etc etc etc, I am sure you can associate with some or maybe all of these? I certainly can.
The answer is to stop using these phrases and take on a more positive mental approach. I know that sounds easy, but I promise you it is not. Nevertheless, if you practice your golf on the range regularly, why not practice your mental golf just as regularly? It is free to do and available anywhere, anytime. The best golfers in the world certainly practice it.
Start using in your mind phrases like “This is a great day as I am out on the golf course playing the game that I love” or “I have the ability to pull this shot off” or “If I think better things, I have a better chance of success.“ You get the idea.
I am often a little hesitant when I advise players on the hazards of the golfing mind, as there is an element of “physician heal thyself.” But I am working on this area of my game a lot and it is bearing fruit. I am starting to “stop and smell the flowers” and I can tell you that it does feel good.
By Jon Woodroffe, World of Golf London Master Professional
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