When I started playing golf I was, as most beginners are, horrible. Not only was my physical game horrible, my mental one was too. I’m a perfectionist and golf is definitely not a game of perfect. Learning how to let go of that mentality and build up some strategies to help my mental golf game has helped my physical game too.
A few great books to get you started are Dr. Joseph Parent’s “Golf: The Art of the Mental Game” and “Zen Golf: Mastering the Mental Game.” Bob Rotella’s “Golf is Not a Game of Perfect” is also a great one. These all have strategies and mental tricks you can use to improve your game and your golf mindset. A few mental golf tips we’ve found particularly useful are below.
First, always have a pre-shot routine and stick to it. Your routine may not be the same as mine and that’s ok. No two players on tour have the same routine. Some take several practice swings and then walk right up and smack the ball. Others stand back, check their target, take a half swing (Justin Thomas), and then take their shot. Whatever your routine is, find one you like and stick with it. Some ideas include:
- Visualizing your shot
- Picking out a target
- Taking a few practice swings
- Taking a half swing to check your club face
- Checking your feet
- Even adding in a knee bend or other slight motion (think Matthew Wolfe or Sung Jae Im)
Next, forget about the bad shot after it happens. You can give yourself 10 yards to seethe about it, but then take a deep breath and move on. All that matters is the next shot. Just the other day this happened: I hit a great drive on a par 5. I hit my 3 wood fat, into the rough on my second shot. At this point I was mad because I was hoping for a par and was worried now I wouldn’t even make a bogey! My third shot was great but stayed in the rough, so it didn’t make it to the green. BUT I was determined to keep my cool. I got on the green and 2 putted for a bogey which, for me, is just fine. Even after a flubbed second shot I didn’t lose my cool and I focused on the next shot only. That can keep you away from the big numbers. A bogey is easier to recover from than a triple.
Finally, work on your putting grip. Be willing to change it if you find that a traditional putting grip just isn’t working for you. Spend time on the putting greens practicing drills with a claw grip or lead-hand-low grip. If you can decrease the amount of putts you make you’ll greatly increase your score, right? Want a great putting drill? This is Phil’s go to:
Finally, if you prefer to stay home (though the golf course is great for social distancing and fresh air) you can do these things as well as reading up on mental golf tips.
Practice your putting (order a putting cup online if you want).
Practice chipping in your backyard if you have room.
Practice your swing. You can use tees without balls to get the effect at least of knocking the tee out of the ground.
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