Golf’s a cruel game. Sand, water, geese (if you’ve played at Lee Valley) combine to cause as many physical problems as one can cope with. The least you can ask, then, is for your brain to stay on top of its game. Incredibly though research conducted by Genworth on over 40 European Tour golfers revealed that over half think they are performing below par. We asked Dr Karl Morris, sports psychologist, how to keep mentally on top of your game…
1) Practice to simulate the real game – make sure you go to the range and challenge yourself by playing scoring games that replicate what will happen on the golf course. Far too many golfers aimlessly hit ball after ball with the same club from a perfect lie which in no way simulates the golf course.
2) Switch concentration on and off – you are playing golf for anything up to five hours (longer if you’re really bad) and it would be impossible to hold a level of focus for the entire time. In fact there is no need to; you just need to develop what I call a ‘shot routine’, whereby you switch your mind on for the shot at hand and then switch off in between shots. Give yourself a mental break as you walk the fairways and it is within the rules to actually smile!
3) Leave swing thoughts on the range – if you want to improve your swing, it would be a really good idea to take a lesson from a PGA professional who will direct your attention to the areas you need to improve. However, once you leave the range, you need to leave this kind of thinking behind. You’ve trained your swing on the range now it is time to trust it on the golf course.
4) Build acceptance into your game – maybe the ultimate mental skill, is to be able to approach a shot, go through your routine, and then accept the outcome. It is not negative thinking but a realistic fact that you will hit bad shots. Everybody, including Tiger Woods, does. Recent research from Genworth around the psychology of the game, states that the key is not so much to focus on the bad shot, but how you react to it.
5) See each shot as a unique challenge – the golf course is an ever changing environment, the wind, the lie, pin positions - you will never, ever play two shots in your life in the same situation. Embrace this shot, in this moment as a unique opportunity to send the ball to the target.
Genworth are Official Statistics Partner of The European Tour. For more information visit www.europeantour.com