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How to Mentally Prepare for Golf

Posted on April 28, 2020 by Martin Banks

When it comes to playing the game of golf — and playing well — skills are only half of the equation. In a professional tournament setting, your mental state greatly influences your swing and how well you’ll play. If you obsess over your technique, fear the next shot or are distracted, your performance will suffer. However, if your mind is strong and your focus is sharp, you can utilize your skills and win tournaments. 

Here’s how to mentally prepare yourself for the green and play your best game of golf.

Practice With Purpose 

Winning tournaments — and mental battles — begins on the practice green. Most golfers try to practice the same way they play in a professional setting. This means they practice with purpose, putting their mind in a real game situation. Doing this can help your brain get its game face on and get accustomed to taking things seriously. Put a little pressure on yourself while you practice and treat every shot like “the one.” 

Develop a Routine  

Practicing with a purpose will also help you to develop a specific routine. This routine, in turn, will help keep your mind occupied in the process of taking your shot without giving fear time to creep in. Plus, consistency in your practice and pre-shot routine will smooth out any kinks in your technique so you can simply focus on taking confident wings and putts without overthinking. 

Forget the Bad Shots

It can be incredibly difficult to let go of a bad shot on the course. You may find yourself obsessing over what went wrong and fearing you’ll make the same mistake again. This mentality will only land you in the next bunker. Rather than letting your failure consume you, let go of each bad shot and play on. This will increase your mental toughness and improve your game over time. 

Focus on a Dimple

During a tournament, you may find your mind wandering to the people in the crowd or the other golfers on the green watching as you take your shot. Naturally, your eyes will want to follow where the mind leads. Pay attention to where you rest your gaze as you swing. If it’s the tips of your shoes or your grip on the club, you’ve lost your focus. Instead, gaze at a single dimple on the ball to refocus your brain. 

Take a Mental Break 

There’s likely a bit of distance between the shot you just took and your next swing. Instead of spending that long walk analyzing your every move, use that time to take a mental break. Talk about something other than your round with your caddy or fellow golfers. Doing so will help to distract you from worrying about the past or future and keep you calm. 

Be Present

Above all, stay mentally present throughout the entirety of your game. Focus on the here and now and each swing as it happens. Don’t obsess over what you’ve done right or wrong so far. Simply play and everything will fall into place. Moreover, find what works for you and stick with it. If focusing on your breath helps your swing, do that, and if repeating a mantra works better, do that instead. 

With some trial and error, practice and a little bit of luck, you’ll be mentally prepared for the game of golf. 

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