Psychology of Golf: Mental Game

Is there a way to improve my mindset and skills on the golf course using the psychology of golf (mental game)?

This will be a good guide to getting back into your swing and staying out of your head.

Every golfer is capable of striking a straight ball at any time, this is part of the beauty of the game.

Most pros are still struggling to get into the top 10 every week. Often times the real distinction between win or lose is usually due to the psychology of golf and not maintaining focus.

It takes a lot of effort to learn the right mindset. Pros even use the psychology of golf to win majors.

Now I am not a professional golfer by any means. But with 30 years of playing golf, and a lot of those competitively, I have learned a thing or two about getting the golf ball in the hole in as few shots as possible.

Most important of those lessons being what is between your ears is more important than what is in the golf bag.

Consider the following your mental golf tips 101 that I have compiled over the years to help with the golf mental game.

Setting Reasonable Expectations

You must have reasonable expectations on the golf course. This is key to maintain the correct mindset for your golf game, especially on the first few holes.

High expectations can create pressure from within and frustrations for underperforming on the golf course.

When we look at golf psychology we find that you have to think of how we can improve ourselves as players.

Professionals have bad days on the course too. If it can happen to them it can certainly happen to us amateurs.

Find those shots you know you are prone to hitting well and create logical plans and mentalities to choose the best golf club and tackle those shots.

It’s unrealistic to say you are shooting a 74 on the first tee box. Who knows what the golf course has in store for you. That mindset does nothing for your mental game.

Of course you want to have confidence but don’t go overboard, at least until you have earned that cockiness. Hope for the best and prepare for the worst case scenario.

Pre Shot Routine

Pre shot routines are crucial for every swing as they help golfers get past the last bad shot and visualize the next shot.

Operating without a pre-shot schedule doesn’t give you the chance to visualize the job you have in front you or forget about that bad shot you just made.

If you have ever watched professionals then you better believe guys like Tiger Woods never stray from their routine. They understand how important it is to maintain focus in this difficult game.

Most amateur golfers lose their cool around the greens or at the tee box after poor shots or a missed putt. Instead of grabbing a moment and taking a few deep breaths to restore the golf psychology principles and forget the previous mistake.

He or she walks over to the ball with their golf club and hits it aimlessly, which of course results in further disasters for them. Most of the time you see them just swing harder with no game plan.

All golfers have different pre-shot routines. You have to find one that works for you and gives you the best chance to shoot lower scores.

My pre shot routine looks like this:

Tee box to green

  1. Forget past mistakes, stay focused, and remember all my golf mental game tips.

  2. Walk behind the ball.

  3. Take 2 practice cuts with my chosen golf club visualizing the next shot I want to hit. Remember course management.

  4. Pick a spot about 4-6 feet in front of the ball that is in line with my target.

  5. Use that spot as my aiming point when I approach the shot.

  6. One final look up at my target for any minor adjustments I need to make. This is especially important for an approach shot.

  7. Hit the golf ball.

On the green (Where many golfers with a strong mental game falter)

  1. Read my putt from behind the ball.

  2. Walk with my feet straddling the line to what I envision is about the mid way point of the putt.

  3. Feel the break of the green with my feet and read the end of the putt going into the hole.

  4. Line up my ball with my mark aiming towards my line.

  5. Check my line one more time behind the ball.

  6. Approach my ball.

  7. Take 2 practice swings while looking at the hole and my line.

  8. Trust my read and speed predictions and hit the putt.

I know it sounds like a lot while reading my routine but honestly this is a pretty common routine.

No one wants to be that slow guy on the golf course but relax and enjoy the round of golf. Your playing partners will understand when you stripe it down the middle.

Making a pre-round warm-up a habit

A good practice is to make your rounds as routine and regular as you can.

It can take some time to figure out what works best for you but a regular pre-round warm up routine can be a huge advantage for the golf game, especially for that first tee shot.

Getting ready to hit that first big shot of the day with your friends or strangers watching can be rough on the golf mental game. Lower that intimidation with a good pre-round warm up routine and hit that first shot full of confidence.

I won’t go into as much detail as I did as on the pre shot routine but my basic pre round looks like this.

  1. Start with putting practice. Get the feel and speed of the greens for the day.

  2. Move over to chipping and hit from a few different angles to different holes.

  3. Driving range time. I start with my 60 degree wedge and work my way up to driver. I don’t hit all the golf clubs. Just a couple with some mid range irons, couple with some long range, hybrid, and the driver. I always end back with the 60 degree wedge though, for the final few balls.

  4. Play various shots at the end of the warm-up. So you can be more creative and learn how to shape shots. Visualize the landing position of the ball and appreciate any good shots you make.

  5. Just a few more putts to practice finishing in as few shots as I can before tee time and thats it.

The Golf Psychology Behind: Start warming up by putting

The warm up at the putting green helps the mind and body synchronize for game play. This will help to get accustomed to green speed and feel. Of all the golf mental tips I have received this is one of the best.

Using long-distance putts on varied distances, aim for the fringe around the edges of the greens for practice.

Afterwards, move on to putting while aiming for a tee. This helps narrow your attention, as targets appear larger during the round.

Finally let’s see the ball go in a few times before moving on to something else. It’s the best way to improve your confidence.

Prepare your muscles for the game by stretching

Prepare yourself to play golf. Stretching helps you prepare yourself to play.

This prevents injuries and prepares your body for all the twisting its about to endure.

The Dynamic Stretch helps boost energy and strengthens the muscles. Various kinds of exercises will increase blood flow and prepare you for whatever.

Here are a few examples of some good dynamic stretches you can do.

  • Side Shuffle. This stretch can help protect against groin and outer hip injuries.

  • Carioca. This stretch helps improve flexibility in the leg muscles.

  • Backpedal Jog.

  • Walking Knee to Chest.

  • Lunge Walk with Twist.

  • Straight Leg Kick.

Structure your golf practices (setting routines and goals)

golf, golf balls, green

Many golfers want to take 200 golf balls from the driving range to hit the ball aimlessly until the basket is complete. This is not good golf psychology and will not keep you mentally tough.

Implementing structured practice strategies at the driving range or practice area will help improve your golf game tremendously.

Know what shots you need to work on and focus on those more than the rest. If I haven’t made it clear yet routine is everything in this game.

Just like in most sports you want to always try to practice how you play. This is especially true for the golf course.

One Shot at a Time

Many amateur golfers begin calculating scores and planning on how to get birdies on the first hole. This mindset will obliterate the focus and give you incredibly high standards and a higher probability of making a mistake.

Focus merely on the shot ahead. Obviously, that specific shot is what is important – the target is the target, the previous shot is the past.

The only job here is hitting the ball near your target. You don’t have to think about anything more.

Stay in the Present: Tips to a better mental game

Take advantage of the course and the freedom of doing something you love.

We need maximum focus on the 18 hole round of golf in front of you to maximize swing mechanics, alignment and short-game management to produce the best round possible.

Keep yourself present and in the moment. You have sufficient time to worry about the outside world. Enjoy what is happening right now.

Once we think of the potential challenges, it becomes progressively harder to focus and your round begins to crumble.

Mental golf tips number one rule if possible. Please shut off the phone if email or text messaging distracts you while on the journey. This is hard for a lot of people in todays society but I can tell you from experience it makes a difference.

Plan Your Hole From the Tee

Psychology of Golf: Mental Game Tips

I had previously suggested concentrating only on the one shot. Planning your hole from the tee helps with that task.

I know that sounds counter intuitive but hear me out.

While waiting to hit your tee shot, consider the best way to get from the tee to the green. Knowing where you want to finish helps you stay focused.

If you have a left side pin placement on a dog leg right and struggle to hit a fade and a driver is too much club before the fairway turn, what do you do?

That’s a lot to think about before your tee shot. Just know you should probably have a game plan before tackling the hole.

Forget about your previous bad shots

Everyone’s human. Usually mistakes are made in golf. I have had some amazing rounds of golf in my life, a handful even under par, but I would be lying if I said no mistakes were made in those rounds.

The trick is to have the mental fortitude and proper golf psychology to recover from those mistakes. Trust me when I say it is not easy.

Even the pros will tell you that. But if you want to get good at this incredibly challenging game then moving on from a bad shot is an absolute necessity.

The thing about golf is that every shot counts. Don’t let one bad shot or even one bad hole mess up an entire round of golf.

Appreciate your hard work practicing golf

Psychology of Golf: Mental Game Tips

We will all experience jitters before we get started.

Second guess ourselves on if you think you’ve practiced good enough or as much as you should. But take pride in the small victories, in those few good shots.

Golf is hard people. Without those small victories motivating players to get better there would be far less people playing the sport.

One saying I like is “we compete in reality against our own scores while our scores are compared to the average score of other players”.

It is a challenge against ourselves to play better and hit lower scores. Observing your prior hard work in practicing your shots will encourage confidence in yourself and overall better outlook on the round ahead.

A lot of information to process

It isn’t lost on me how much I just threw at you.

But I can say with with absolute confidence that if you follow just a handful of these golf mental tips then I promise you will have lower scores and overall a better time playing golf. Still hungry for more knowledge?

Keep your head down, and hit em’ straight!

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