There are many different ways to get better at golf.
One the journey to get better, many spend countless hours trying to perfect their technique, add distance to their game or spend time around the greens trying to became a short game master.
An area that is often overlooked is the mental game in golf.
Fortunately, there are many resources out there right now that are quite good. I think most people often think, I could be better at the mental side of the game, but few take action to actually improve.
One edge you can have over your playing partners or opponents is to be your sharpest possible. Over the course of an 18 hole round of golf that could take anywhere from 4-5 hours there are many challenges from the numerous situations that you will face.
Whether it is the nerves and anxiety of the first tee, the drive on a narrow par 4, the difficult 175 yard shot into the wind or making that 5 footer on the 18th hole to win the match, there seems to be situation after situation that can best be handled if there is a system in place.
Playing with fear is a terrible thing in golf and can lead to some major swing faults. Many times is it more than our technique and often where our mind is at when we hit the shot. If you play golf in fear, you will more than likely struggle!
How Can I Improve My Mental Game In Golf?
Pick a system and stick with it. There are many different resources and systems out there. Most systems will use a combination of visualization, self talk, balance, tempo, timing and breathing to ensure you are ready to perform your best when you step up to hit the shot or sink the putt.
Below, I will provide a quick overview of the different systems that are out there. There are books and systems to dive into and explore. Ultimately, I believe it is best if the golfer commits to a system and becomes a student of that specific system and puts into practice.
3 Best Mental Game Golf Resources
- Zen Golf
- Dr. Bob Rotella and Various Books
- Vision 54
Mental Game Golf Resources: Zen Golf
Zen Golf is written by Dr. Joseph Parent and is worth checking out. He is a PGA Coach and Buddhist instructor. Overall, Dr. Parent has a goal to help you remove the distractions in the game and jump into the process known as PAR APPROACH.
Golf is a game that requires patience, focus, and concentration. The best golfers in the world can tell you that there are few things more frustrating than trying to play your round of golf when you have a million other thoughts running through your head.
That’s where Zen Golf comes into play! You’ll learn how to use this meditation technique to clear your mind, become one with the ball, and focus on making clean contact with the club face. This concept has helped golfers at all levels improve their performance dramatically – so don’t wait any longer!
Zen Golf by Dr. Joseph Parent helps the golfer eliminate the fear of failure and that sense of constant hurry, to find inner peace. The golfer’s mind becomes still with each shot as they focus on themselves in a calming environment without distraction or anxiety from others. Dr Parent teaches how golfers can use this the PAR Approach not only for better performance but also mental health overall through his book Zen Golf.
The book is written with short, smaller chapters to allow the golfer to focus on one area.
Mental Game Golf Resources: Dr. Bob Rotella
Another excellent author with many quality books that takes you through the steps to clear your mind to hit your best shots.
It is interesting the amount of time Dr. Rotella spends stressing shots from 120 yards and in.
He often points out that one of the most important things you can do to improve your golf game is work on chipping and putting. Too many times, players get caught up in playing great shots off long irons but lose a lot more balls than they should because their short club swing technique needs improvement or practice time spent practicing chips from both roughs would
Dr. Bob Rotella takes golfers through some important steps for improving their short game.
First, he breaks down the mental side of chipping and putting: It’s not a Game to be perfect at it! Golfers should realize that they will make mistakes – but if you can focus on playing good shots when your swing is off then those bad mistake hit from time-to point in golf matches won. He believes in spending at least 70% of your time on shots inside of 120 yards.
Here are some of my takeaways from his books:
1. Start by dreaming up a beautiful golf shot, and making it come true in your mind! Imagine the ball soaring into its target with power, accuracy and grace. Visualize how you want to hit each shot before taking it – this is called your pre-shot routine.
2) Trust yourself during all aspects of play – trust that when you focus on what’s important (the end result), everything else will fall into place automatically as well: You’ll have more confidence if you know where the green lies or which club would be best suited for an upcoming challenge; Your swing technique will improve because there won’t be any worries about hitting shots off line anymore; And even luckier things might happen too!
3) Remembering past successes will help you build mental toughness when faced with a difficult situation.
I’m not perfect on the golf course, but I don’t play to be either! When we lead with this mindset, success can be ours more often.
We all think about mistakes before they happen and how we’ll react if it happens again – this is human nature; But instead of fearing potential setbacks from physical skill or bad luck that cause us fear, instead stick to your routines and clear your mind.
Mental Game Golf Resources: Vision 54
Two ladies that have made a major difference in the lives of many professional golfers. Pia Nilsson and Lynn Marriott have helped revolutionize the game through their Vision 54 approach.
Overall, we all have our distractions and take breaks from what we’re thinking about without realizing that this can create an obstacle later on. Golfers underperform because they are human beings who play golf instead of robots, but at VISION54, you’ll learn how to keep your focus by complementing technique with skill-building for the mind as well!
They promote trying out different things on the golf course to see what works best for you, but always come back to the system of following what is in your play box, think box, and memory box.
The Human Skills include:
- Play Box
- Think Box
- Memory Box
- Balance, Tempo, Timing (BTT)
- Emotional Resilient
- Managing Self Talk
- Master of Variability
There system is designed for people who want to take their golf game from good, and on up. It’s not a beginners guide by any means but it does offer some great insights into the mental side of playing your best in all aspects: physical skills (swing), emotional resilience which includes self-talk or managing emotions before you start your swing.
The mental side of golf is one that is challenging for many golfers. Golf is a game of skill, but it’s also one that requires mental fortitude to get through tough rounds or even an entire tournament with your mind in tact and well-prepared for the next round you face on Sunday afternoon wherever your home course is at.
Being prepared mentally is the key to success in golf.
Final Thoughts: Resources For the Mental Side of Golf
Overall, I have ready many books and believe in following one of the systems above. If you don’t have time to read all of the books to choose, here are some general guidelines to help you play better golf during your next round!
- Get enough rest the night before a big round of golf, and don’t forget about eating breakfast or lunch as well – these two things will help keep stress down during your next round. It’s important not just because it prevents fatigue from creeping in and getting you out of your routine or creating mental fatigue, but also because it helps you avoid bad decisions.
- Know your goals before the game and make sure they’re realistic – when this is done, a golfer will know exactly what kind of mental approach he or she needs to take in order for those objectives not just be met–but exceeded! “I’m going into my round with with the right swing technique and frame of mind. I am going to focus on my goal and not any other things. I’m going for the win!”
- Fall back into old habits (Make sure they are a system based habit)- it’s always a good idea when you’re feeling mentally exhausted or overwhelmed by the holes or shots ahead of time, just like in golf! When we fall out from under some pressure–even if that means doing something as simple as following your pre shot routine that you have used for years–we can recollect ourselves, take a deep breath and get back in our system!
- Be honest with yourself – if you’re feeling mentally exhausted or overwhelmed by tasks ahead of time than it’s always important to be as objective about your game. When we are aware that our problems in golf may not just stem from physical but also from the mental challenges of life and other things that may be distracting.
Having a system is the ultimate key. The resources above can provide you with a system that you can put into play and make your own. Part of the mental side of golf is the self discovery side. Find out what works best for your game by testing out different strategies!