Golf is a psychological game in which a player must display a high level of concentration, but avoid being obsessive. A golf player has to be precise and intense, but must not be overzealous. A golfer should be confident and have self-control. One has to play instinctively and remain focused. A golf game requires one to understand how the inner mind functions (Cohn, 1994). Any individual looking forward to succeeding as a golfer must understand that emotions and thoughts can disrupt a perfect swing. Physical competence acts as the first step towards becoming a perfect golfer. When physical competence is exhibited with a proper coordination of the mind, one is likely to realize a high level of competence on the golf course.
Golf is an interesting game that requires the players to demonstrate a high level of competence and confidence. As with all other games, a golf player must attain a high level of physical competence to become an outstanding player. One major difference between golf and other games is that it is highly mental. Golf is played over a long time, hence allowing the players ample time to think as they play. In other games, for instance, football, a player lacks time to think while in the pitch, but will be observant of the moves of the ball and react immediately. A golfer should display much mental competence, and the player has to hold focus for a long time. Physical competence is remarkable for a player, but the level of thinking done off the game has the most significant effect on the golfer’s performance (Cohn, 1994).
A number of misconceptions have to be identified with respect to the role of golfer’s muscles in affecting the outcome of the game. The misconceptions result into “muscle memory,” which is an integral determinant of success in golf. It is essential to remember that muscles have got no capacity to remember any essential skill that would count in the game. Memory resides in the mind in that the muscles alone can hardly remember and execute appropriate skills on the golf course when a need arises. Thus, any golfer should be of sound mind so that the muscles do not flounder. Different destructive thoughts are likely to compromise a golfer’s performance and result into a scorecard that is full of bad strokes. Similar to players of other games, every golfer has the potential to improve through a series of training. Having a proper control of the mind and using it properly can separate one from the competitors. Regardless of the conditions of the equipment, the course, and the player’s proficiency, the golf game is often lost or won on the greens and fairways of the mind (Cohn, 1994).
A golfer needs to apply the principle of mental golf to maintain concentration throughout the game (Valiante, 2013). The most formidable opponent against which a golfer fights is the mind. Because of the complexity of the mind, one needs to master the game of mental golf to outshine his/her competitors. The mind can be the best friend of a golfer by helping to devise clever strategies for an efficient movement of the ball from the tee to the cup. It is also important in developing mechanics of a smooth and reliable swing. Whenever a golfer fails to ensure proper coordination of his/her mindset, the mind changes to become a golfer’s worst enemy. It can generate much tension and anxiety. Excessive tension and anxiety can tighten one’s muscles and compromise concentration. As a result, a technically proficient golfer may end up deeply slicing the ball into the woods and may chock on a short putt. In such a situation, a golfer loses his/her focus and, irrespective of how hard he/she tries, matters may end up worsening as the muscles get stiffer, thus increasing the golfer’s tension. The mind shall have turned into an enemy, and its powers may only be overcome by applying the principles of mental golf. The principal of mental golf is suggested to be effective in yielding benefits both off the course and on the course (Valiante, 2013).
Valiante (2013) stated that every golfer normally gets to “the zone.” It is a point when a golfer plays at his/her best without thinking or judging his/her performance or score. It is a mental state that needs to be well replicated for good performance to be achievable. When at the zone, a golfer focuses on nothing else, but on heating quality golf shots. A golfer concentrates on the shot and the target and does not think about what the body requires to execute the desired shot, what has led to the current position, and the consequences of every shot. The situation renders one into a bubble where nothing matters except the present moment and shot. Golfers need to get frequently into the zone to achieve appreciable performances.
According to Parent, Watson, Obetz, & Ravielli (2005), one can realize an automatic and effortless performance by relaxing and letting the natural ability of the subconscious mind to function. When playing in the zone, one experiences an automatic and effortless game. The swing happens effortlessly, and it is simple and easy. In the zone, the subconscious mind takes control of the game, and the club responds to the visualized image that occurs in a player’s mind. A player’s instinct helps to execute a swing without much effort. One could only require a single thought, which is enough to be effective in executing the entire swing. The secret of good performance at the zone is to concentrate on the current task without stopping to think about a shot that was not well executed. The game has many challenges, but good performance at the zone requires a player to forget about the possible challenges that await him/her. A golfer must know that the present is the best opportunity that he/she can use to influence the outcome of the entire game. When a player gets immersed in the task at hand, the main focus is to prepare adequately and execute a good shot. It is always essential to select the target and alignment so as to execute a perfect swing that would lead the ball in the desired direction (Parent, 2005).
Moreover, peak performance requires a player to focus on one thought and to have a calm mind (Parent, 2005). The subconscious mind serves a vital role, and it remains active to help the player in planning a course of action. At the zone, a player exhibits a high level of concentration without struggling to remain focused. All activities happen naturally as a player gets involved in an internal conversation. There should never be a chance for any destructor to come in between a player and the course while playing in the zone.
Equally, a golfer should have the ability to switch off and on to maintain maximum concentration in the game (Parent, 2005). The human brain concentrates for the short durations of about four to five hours. For a better performance, the brain should be allowed to have short periods of high concentration that should be followed by the periods of complete relaxation. Great golfers are aware of the need to switch their focus on and off making every shot look like a completely separate game. The golfers maximize their thought within about 30 seconds before taking a shot. The duration is referred to as the analysis part of every pre-shot routine. The remaining time is taken to follow the sequence of the shot routine then switching off completely while waiting for the start of the next routine. All shots are completely independent in that the quality of the shot has no effect on the next shot. One should detach himself/herself from the last shot irrespective of how well it was taken, and prepare for the next shot. This procedure is repeatedly done, about 60 to 70 times. A golfer should internalize the fact that each shot is vital and should be taken after a proper preparation and with a maximum concentration.
Equally, a golfer requires good thinking capacities, and has to avoid the thought that may hurt his/her score. A golfer should only think about appropriate strategies to use and where his/her target is. The remaining time should be spent following the shot routine that should be on autopilot after adequate practice. Annika Sorenstam introduces the think and play concept. The concept separates the pre-shot routine into thinking and playing. After deciding on the shot and the strategy to use, the thought duration is done and a golfer needs to play. A successful golfer trains his/her brains to memorize the playing sequence. After crossing the imaginary line between the play box and the think box, one should trust his/her body and fully focus on the target. The short routine continues after taking a shot. One needs to throw a deep breath or signal the end of a shot by putting the club in the bag. One accepts the outcome of the shot and switches off until the routine starts again (Graham & Stabler, 1999). Golfers know that it is unnecessary to think about the next shot until the next routine.
Graham and Stabler (1999) state that the pre-shot routine technique is necessary for a player to perform a smooth and quick shot. The routine helps to eliminate tension that results from over-thinking. It is necessary to eliminate tension because it interferes with a golfer’s swing of any ability level. A player should avoid pre-shot thinking to reduce possible tension that affects the quality of the shot.
Self-confidence is vital in the game of golf. The game is so complex such that however good the last shot may have been, victory may only be realized by making the next shot better. A high degree of self-confidence enables a player to exploit his/her full potential, and to enjoy the game. Golfer who seeks to enjoy the game should always avoid stressful moments that may compromise his/her self-confidence. One may have made a lousy shot, but full self-confidence would help one to step up the ball and expect the best out of the shot. Confidence is very important in the game. It is capable of turning around one’s performance while on the course. Almost all golf players display a great deal of confidence while on the course. They have the same swagger and confident demeanor. Golf players do not get upset because they know that bad shots can be very counterproductive. Though self-confidence may be an inborn attribute, it is possible for players to develop it through training and by hitting several golf balls and winning many games. One who has developed enough knowledge of how to control the mind obviously performs well on the course.
Golfers also need to demonstrate high levels of composure (Graham & Stabler, 1999). The game may at times turn out to be very frustrating. In such occasions, the mental game becomes very important. Golfers need to learn and acquire mental stamina that would help them improve their composure and remain calm under pressure. Golfers should harness negative emotions into gainful energy and use the energy into their swing. This skill helps golfers to keep in the game even in challenging situations.
The golf game is also characterized by several destructions. There are both internal and external destructors. The external destructions may emerge from the weather, an overhead plane or other destructives that a golfer has no control over (Graham & Stabler, 1999). There are also internal destructions that disrupt individual’s mind. The external destructions are not easy to control, but one can try to control the internal ones or try to reduce their impacts on his/her concentration. Golfers need to concentrate on the game at hand and avoid paying attention to external or internal destructors. When playing in the zone, one feels to be in control of everything. The player should control personal patience, confidence level and feel much peace. However, one may not have control over external force, such as the playing partners, course of play, bad weather, undesired bounces, and the official’s ruling. These external challenges are inevitable in any golf game. Despite the challenges, a player should always remain focused and display full control over personal traits that would aggravate the challenging situation. For example, a player should always maintain full control over his/her emotions and stay loose in the tense situations. Staying in control enables one to hit the ball towards the target and prevents the previous shot outcomes from interfering with the shot yet to be taken (Graham & Stabler, 1999).
Self-control is easy to achieve in the zone because at that point, everything often seems to go on well. Control of emotions becomes challenging when things get out of hand, which could result from the stress accumulated due to the bad shots realized. Whenever tension rises, one’s muscles stiffen, and it becomes difficult to control the inner self. It makes many golfers produce the undesired shots. The more a player may try to correct the physical positioning and adjust the distance between him/her and the playing equipment, the more tension will rise. One would need to concentrate more and have a relaxed mind so that the stiff muscles may relax. This enables the player to have a perfect shot.
An important mindset understands that every shot in golf is independent of the previous one. A player needs to completely abandon fear of executing the previous bad shot so that the next one may be perfect. This reasoning is linked to the idea that a golf player should always focus on the present task. When a shot has already been taken; however, good or bad it was; one needs to forget about it and engage in an internal dialogue on how to achieve a good shot in the next round.
Golfers seek to achieve maximum control on the course. Control is achieved through the ability to remain composed, to maintain self-confidence, and to stay focused. Mental attributes, as well as the skills enable players to control their mental game, hence seeing the physical game clearly. When the mental and physical games merge, one experiences an effortless and pure swing that is only achievable in the zone. A player who successfully achieves these requirements is likely to appreciate golf as the most challenging, enjoyable and t rewarding games.
Rotella (2004) suggests that golfers need to appreciate the challenges that they face and control their attitudes. Golf has unpredictable fortunes and is full of mistakes. Without the challenges, cases of players missing the fairway, a putt or a green would never exist. Besides, sudden gusts of wind, unfortunate bounces and imperfections in the turf would be unheard of. In a golf tournament, the winning score would probably move to about 50 strokes per round because the ball would always move to the right place that it is expected to move. One who loves golf needs to internalize and fully appreciate the fact that golf is an inherently imperfect game where no player shoots 50. One should never spend much time thinking of how to turn golf from a game of mistakes into a game of perfect shots. A player who enjoys the game accepts its imperfection and challenges and reacts well to the inevitable misfortunes and mistakes. Successful golfers understand that they should always strive to improve. Hence, they separate themselves from their competition. Golfers should also improve on their reactions to mistakes by controlling their attitudes (Rotella, 2004).
A player should learn how to plan with the heads and play from the heart (Rotella, 2004). It is necessary to say something to the body before every swing. Such a communication essentially boosts concentration and alleviates stress. For example, one would say: “Ok, there it goes.” The statement made at this crucial time acts as a signal that conditions the thinking mind to act. At that time, the subconscious mind should take maximum control of the body while swinging the club. The conscious mind should not intrude as such an intrusion may result into some unnecessary and unexpected outcomes. The body will make a perfect swing when driven by the subconscious mind, and one can realize fantastic swings time after time (Rotella, 2004). When one fails to condition the body in this pattern, the resulting shot may fall as if no efforts were made to direct the swing. One should avoid controlling the swing with a conscious mind, but transfer the swing control to the subconscious mind for great results.
Another psychological aspect of golf identified by Rotella (2012) is that golfers are psychologically conditioned to warm up their putting. When a player puts before the actual round, he/she should begin by putting to no particular direction. Putting towards nowhere will enable a player to make a natural stroke without pulling or pushing the putt. This warm up procedure should repeatedly be done until a player gets a conviction that the putts are always rolling end over end and that he/she is hitting right on the sweet spot. Thus, golfers find themselves trying rolling some long putts to know the size of the swing required to travel the necessary distance. To know the relationship between pace and break, it is necessary to try some medium-length putts. The warm up session should end by making numerous two-foot putts while fully concentrating on stabilizing the head and listening to hear each putt falls in the hole. The warm-ups should be very repetitive. The repetitive warm-ups help boost confidence such that when a player gets to the first tee, he/she feels adequately prepared to have a great round. It is necessary to know the total warm-up duration to be able to divide it up in prior.
The proper allocation of the warm-up time helps a player to know exactly when to move onto the next part of the training session. Golfers need to feel composed and never to be affected by how big the tournament is. Thus, they have to attend repetitive training. Proper timing of the training session helps in reducing nerves such that, however, big the tournament may be, a player will always feel composed. The way a player hits the ball while warming up does not indicate how the ball is played on the course. Several great rounds begun with the bad range sessions; hence, there is no need to be judgmental towards the wayward shots (Rotella, 2012).
Proper training may help people to predict some possible challenges while on the course on the tournament date. Thus, it is advantageous to have psychological preparedness ahead of the tournament so that a player may be prepared to face them. Playing in an unfamiliar environment may have several psychological challenges. A golf player needs to familiarize with the course of play, understand the environment, and get used to the spectators. Confidence is still necessary for a foreign setup to enable a player adapt to possible discomfort. When a player fails to adjust to the environment and the “roaring” spectators, it becomes impossible to concentrate fully on the game, which is a factor that compromises good performance.
Equally, golfers know that one important secret when preparing for a game is to remain humble. It is unhealthy to expect a good game because such expectations may set the expectation bar too high to be achieved. However well a player might have prepared; the golf game is often unpredictable. It is better to be unaware of the outcome of the game rather than to develop some imaginations that may interfere with a player’s concentration and focus. Typically, chasing a score has a negative effect because a player only has control over the process of hitting a good golf shot. The scores are achieved by making the shot routine to be the only goal for the round. Good shots are not forced, but they are attained through adequate preparation, maximum concentration, and a high level of composure (Shapiro, 1996). Although a player should always be humble, it is equally necessary to be aggressive so that he/she is capable of taking chances as they come. An aggressive player shows intrinsic discipline during the training period and continues to demonstrate the same while on the course.
The essence of a player’s discipline is clear in the mental game of golf. Discipline means that a player does the right thing at the right place without waiting for a reminder or to be forced. The disciplined players adhere to the rules of the game of golf. They minimize problems with the game officials, and make the right decisions while on the course. Discipline helps to reduce emotional discomfort, and makes players focus throughout the game. Good discipline is a motivating factor that enables players to find the time to attend to their practices. A disciplined mind concentrates on looking for positive achievements, and shows reluctance to major on failures. Essentially, discipline instructs a player on what to do at any time; starting with the preparation stage of the game, the actual round, and at the end of the rounds.
The purpose of making a swing is to ensure that the ball is sent to the target. It is needless to be fully focused on hitting the ball without considering the purpose of making a swing. Practice swings should be satisfactory. They should pass through the bottom of the swing arc and sweep in the direction of the target along the grass (Shapiro, 1996). It is wrong to think that the main task is just to hit the ball. A player may fail to concentrate on the adequate follow-ups past the ball. When a player knows that the job is to send the ball towards the target, it is easy to make perfect swings towards and past the target zone.
According to Shapiro (1996), golf, being a mental game, requires a proper pre-round preparation. According to the scholar, golfers need to get the right diet that prepares the body systems for a great performance. It is proven that dehydration lowers performance and that thirst is an indicator of dehydration. Like other games, golf requires a player to be neither hungry nor full. It is necessary to have a healthy diet, and to pack healthy snacks, such as nuts and fruits that would help a player to maintain the necessary energy level and remain focused throughout the rounds.
Moreover, a great game in golf requires a player to anticipate success before the rounds start. Having a positive thought is helpful in realizing success in the course. When moving to the course, a golf player needs to engage the mind by playing the rounds in the mind and imagining every hole. It is inappropriate to start imagining the score and setting the imaginations as the target for the actual round. A player should always visualize success to remain confident. It may be done by having imaginations on how he/she feels when one hits it down the middle of the fairway, and to hit successfully the approach shots close to the hole the birdie putts.
On any round, all golfers struggle so much on the first tee (Partent et al., 2008). It is an area where player’s nerves get to their greatest. Many golfers visualize on the first tee, making such visualization affect their minds greatly. The reason is that there are many people who are watching the game besides those who are playing on the course. The imaginations also strike because the first tee marks the start of the round. The first tee shot is seen to have the ability to set the tone of the round. Statistics show that neither the first hole nor the first drive relates to the quality of a given round for both the pros and the amateurs. Before the next round, a player needs to dispel the feeling that the first round has set the tone for the round (Partent et al., 2008).
One should never lose focus based on the result of the first shot. Public speakers develop much fear before and immediately after the start of their speech. Golfers are no exception because the first tee sends impulses of fear to their minds. If not properly controlled, it may interfere with the remaining parts of the round. The fear arises from the perception that it is important to perform well before the large magnitude of people who are watching and making judgments based on how the first tee is taken. Golfers need to get excited about playing the first shot, as well as the first hole. The pre-shot routine helps in keeping focus so that the outcome of the first shot does not distract the concentration required for the subsequent shots.
Partent et al (2008) state that successful golfers develop an acceptable par for the first tee shot. One reality often denied is that of all the holes, it is the first hole of the round that has more psychological challenges. Every golfer needs to conceptualize so as to develop an appropriate attitude required for taking the first tee. It is vital to create an imaginary par for the first hole to play in a relaxed manner and avoid some negative emotions that are potential destructors to a successful game. Having an imaginary par of a double bogey for the first hole is beneficial as it helps a player to avoid ruining the hole after hitting a bad drive into some trouble. One would instead try a miracle shot to get the par that could result into a quadruple bogey. This approach is used by successful golfers to reduce internal pressure. The approach is helpful in eliminating nervousness. It also eliminates the view that a double bogey is an acceptable score. A player should establish what his/her acceptable score in the first hole is. This should be treated as an individual’s par. The concept of having a par is necessary for avoiding the effects of a bad tee shot on the next series of shots. To mark the beginning of a great day in playing golf, a player should decide on a personal par either for the first or the first two holes and start getting excitement about the tee to avoid unnecessary tension (Graham & Stabler, 1999).
Moreover, good golf requires an attitude of gratitude and appreciation (Graham, & Stabler, 1999). One must get into the correct state of mind before and during the game to achieve the desired result. Due to the numerous challenges involved in the game, a player needs to develop a passion for the game and to be always grateful for the opportunity to play the most loved game. Golf is played with a relaxed mind and should be treated as a hobby. Taking the game as a hobby enables a player to enjoy it whatever the score. Golf should not be played with the motive of getting any compensation every time. The game is helpful for psychological development and relaxation after a series of tiresome work. It is a perfect way to divert the mind from a routine job without a feeling of boredom. Whoever fails to enjoy the game due to a series of challenges should consider doing something else. It is because challenges are inevitable and the only way to go about them is to have an attitude of gratitude and appreciation.
Graham and Stabler (1999) suggest that golfers should learn how to play great instead of just avoiding a poor play. Poor players hit off a driver in almost every tee. Good players are more interested in a great drive, and they are less concerned about the rough. They care less about three-putting, but like making puts. Golfers may have a conservative strategy aimed at particular holes. Their conservative strategy enables them to make confident and cocky swings. They only take dead aims at the hole at the right moment. Great players show no concern about the possibility to be bad as they display a discontent with a good play. Their main aim is to play great, and they always strive to achieve this objective. In every game, they play to win and are keen on making the top-20 finishes. A golfer who uses the mind appropriately controls his/her destiny in the game. Golfers have free will that they should use to make constructive choices (Valiante, 2013). Good choices enhance one’s ability to become great. A player who is focused on avoiding poor performance can hardly exploit his/her potential in perfecting the game. A player shows little concern in taking a pre-tournament warn-up and can hardly improve his/her game.
The mind has various functions that golfers should know. It has different layers, and each layer serves a distinct function in supporting one’s belief system, ability to focus, and the motor skills. Training can help improve particular aspects of the mind. The human mind is structured such that there are the conscious and subconscious layers. Golfers must be able to use every part of the mind to perform relevant functions. Whenever a function is performed by use of the subconscious mind, it would be inappropriate to try to perform the function using the conscious mind. A golfer gets to the zone when only the conscious mind functions to make the right shot.
Valiante (2013) mentions that it is necessary for golfers to love their game and the putter. There is a thin line that separates the great golfers from just the good ones. The main difference between doing well and becoming a great golf player is the level of proficiency with the scoring clubs. The skill is what marks the difference between amateurs and pros in the golf game. Scoring clubs are used to attack holes so that they may sink the ball. Players have got no alternative but to develop and sustain a close relationship with the clubs. The relationship can be developed through training with the clubs until they turn to be precision instruments. Proper training enables a player to know how to maintain an appropriate distance with the clubs and to spin the shot hit effectively with the clubs. Players understand that shots are the most vital parts of the game. They should avoid tension for missing the green because there would be a chance to make a good birdie or to par in an advantageous manner. Good golf players understand that it is possible for all to miss the green, and they have to work hard to recover from the challenge. The most deflating encounter to opponents is when they lose a hole that they had mentally put in the pocket (Rowe, 2009).
Golf requires a player to know himself/herself and accept the situations under which he/she is playing. The mental game is played with total comfort if a player expects to realize good results. It is wrong for a player to try to fit in a standard that he/she has not attained (Rowe, 2009). A player’s level of competence improves slowly through practice. It is unhealthy for a player to aim so high when he/she still lacks the skills to attain the desired standards.
A golfer can find himself/herself in a state of absolute disappointment when he/she fails to perform to his/her expectation. To solve this problem, one should set attainable targets based on his/her personal competence. When taking a turn of play, it is advisable for a player to avoid having high expectations. It is better to play with an open heart to accept any result.
There are cases where players develop a negative attitude when they fail to excel in their games. Players of golf should take golf to be more of a hobby than an economic activity. It will be easy to accept the results of the game when it is perceived to be a hobby, and the players will retain a relaxed state of mind. It is necessary realize that every player has limitations and that distinct physical competence. It would be stressful to try to hit the ball like a pro when one has not attained adequate skills.
Whatever one thinks about himself / herself programs the mind. Thus, golfers must ensure that their thoughts are always productive. Players of golf should not get mad at themselves over poor performance. Getting mad at oneself is non-productive and can erode one’s performance. Players must understand that the human body cannot be made to work like a machine. There are days when the body works well, and it does not always function the same way. Whenever a player starts getting mad at himself / herself or loosing focus, it is necessary for him/her to think to himself/herself and be convinced that under the circumstances, he/she has done his/her best. The point is that a player should not put himself/herself down any matter the performance. Players need to be very selective in the things that they tell themselves while on the course so that they do not work against them. There is a popular say that one is what he/she thinks he/she is. If a player views himself/herself as a victor, then victory will be achieved. Whenever one thinks about losing, then failure will be inevitable. A negative dialogue is a bad habit that a player can easily change. A change would be possible if one starts by listening to the opinions, identifying the negative thought, and working towards abandoning the negative thoughts. Once a player has started this process, it becomes easy to alter the negative dialogue and to focus on the objectives that he/she intends to achieve (Rowe, 2009).
Emotions are not encouraged in the game of golf, but they can also be used by a player in a beneficial way. Emotions often result from one’s failure to meet the desired level of competence. An individual’s anger may act as an energizing force that makes one to strive for more competence in the field of play. When a player realizes a series of poor performance, he/she gets concerned about how to improve his/her skills. Emotions raise an individual’s adrenalin. A player should feel charged up with the emotions, but should be quick to return to the normal psychological status. When one gets a series of poor shots, emotions obviously take control. A player can avoid the impacts of such a situation by drawing the positive experiences learnt. It is helpful to recall some positive results attained in the past as they would help one to regain confidence. One would recall a round that started with a double bogey and ended with a great result. A player should not accept to go either too high or very low, or should remember that bad or good things are inevitable in the game of golf. If a player can hardly handle his/her emotions, it is advisable to avoid situations that create emotions or to abandon the game altogether. A steady burn often wins the race (Vardy, 1996).
Vardy (1996) states that golfers need to have excellent self-sufficiency. Players should make decisions and be fully committed to their decisions. Good golfers know that the maximum concentration is necessary for a quality shot to be achieved. They are also aware that bad shots often result from indecisiveness where they merely take a shot before a critical thought. Commitment is necessary to both good and bad shots. Commitment to a bad shot can yield a better result than failure to be committed to a good shot. There is an apparent relation between a player’s decision making ability and the result that a player attains. Bad shots result from indecisiveness. One may not have fully decided on a target, hence getting an undesirable shot. Competitive golf becomes difficult for players who rely on the decisions taken by other people. One should always make personal decisions whenever there is a need. When on the course, a golfer faces many challenges that require an immediate response. It would be futile to expect someone else to intervene and help by advising the right decision to take.
The mental game of golf requires players to demonstrate a perfect level of dominance. There are two types of confidence that a golf player must exhibit. A player must show both personal and performance confidence. Personal confidence is easy to maintain because it may be inborn. Performance confidence is challenging to uphold because people react differently to success and failure. Golfers need to stop focusing on the result and mainly to concentrate on the process to attain good results. The process begins when one first decides to participate in golf. From that moment, it is important to have much practice on how to attain a good shot while on the course. Training should not only focus on the techniques of hitting the ball to have a good shot, but it should also allow the players to learn how to have control during the game. A good result is not achieved when a player lacks the necessary skill to execute the necessary swing. More focus is required on developing the skills to attain the desired performance (Lupo & Lupo, 2009).
The mental game of golf requires players to adhere to all necessary stages of play. The game does not start on the course when a player takes a turn. Players have to go through three main stages of golf to be proficient, as well as capable of achieving great results. Just as it is with other games, players must be adequately prepared for the tournaments ahead of the game. Preparation is realized at the preparation stage in order to get adequate psychological comfort ahead of a big tournament. Other stages include the complete stage where one executes the learnt skills, as well as active and rest stages.
The “preparation stage” is very essential, and it takes a relatively long period of time (Fox, 2010). Players should understand the need to improve their performance through learning the relevant skills in the golf game. Through training, players develop tactical, technical, mental and physical skills required for the serious competition. Player’s performance cycle starts with proper adherence to all the instructions that enable him/her to learn new skills and improve on his/her technique. When a player takes ample time to prepare by observing the preparation stage of the golf performance cycle, he/she develops a feel of trust that is necessary to attain a remarkable performance on the actual date. The performance cycle also points to the fact that performance does not start on the actual competition date. Preparation is an ongoing process that differentiated great performers from average ones (Fox, 2010). When a player has passion for golf, he/she is likely to take enough time in preparation. A player would hardly be discouraged by negative results, but will focus on how to make the performance better in every round (Allen, 1989).
Golf players use the complete stage of golf to showcase and execute the skills that they developed and enhanced during the preparation stage. Some golfers fail in the golf game because of attempting new skills in the complete stage. However, it is not ideal for a player to try anything uncomfortable or new in a tournament. It is necessary for players to trust that their training added some value to their skills. They should apply the already learnt skills to win the competition.
The player’s body tends to perform well when given the opportunity to do what it knows best. In a tournament, the body gets under pressure such that it automatically reverts to do what it is used to. The complete stage is an opportunity for players to assess their potential and demonstrate their ability to control tactical, physical and mental skills (Jansen, 2011).
The golf game has an evaluation and active rest stage. The stage is often eliminated or skimmed over by players because they do not see immediate results from the stage. The long-term development of players is likely to suffer if they fail to assess themselves, and create time for other off-course needs. Successful players have to take time to learn, evaluate and develop their skills over time. Players lose perspective on their sport life, and may suffer burnout if they do not take the time to evaluate themselves and to rest. The golf game does not require the players to become emotional while in the field of play. Golfers make an evaluation of their performance in tournaments during the evaluation and active rest stage so that they may identify the areas to improve on. The points of weaknesses are seen as a challenge rather than a weakness. Viewing challenges as weaknesses may have a negative impact on performance as a player may lack the urge and motivation to practice. Challenges are opportunities for perfection as they make players develop an urge to learn new skills (Jansen, 2011).
Chopra (2003) states that the mental game requires the players to avoid taking excuses and focus on improving their game. In most cases, golfers who realize poor results take excuses of time saying that if they had enough time, they would improve their game. When the players retire from wok, they have all the time for their game. The players become psychologically disturbed because they may not improve their game as they earlier expected. It is a bad situation that can negatively influence a player’s golf life as he/she may fully become discouraged from the game. Golf changes from being a relaxing game played to pass the time and slowly becomes a complete obsession (Chopra, 2003).
Those who make excuses of time find themselves under pressure to move from their handicap situations to the great players (Evera, 2009). It is advisable for retiring golf players to continue playing their game for a longer duration instead of putting much pressure on themselves. Players should take time to improve on the spots that they may have been avoiding and to get much instruction from the professional instructors. Golf players may also need to have a back-up hobby that they would play to withdraw themselves from the challenges that they encounter on the golf course. Golf is the game that can never be played under stress. No matter the amount of free time that one may have to play the game, only the active time will be useful for a player on the course (Evera, 2009).
A player’s mental approach makes it possible to hit the green. Every course has the holes, and what makes it difficult for some players to hit the green is that they get it into their head that it is a difficult task to be accomplished. Players should approach every shot with the ease of hitting the ball at the local driving range. There are significant mental approaches that players should give to the holes. For example, the 17th would be tried out while approaching the tee. Golf is about consistent positive processes. All the shots should be the same under all situations, and players should use their pre-established routines to make similar and perfect shots (Andrisani, 2003). Some shots may be very difficult, but players should develop strong processes and fully focus on these processes before taking any shot. When taking difficult shots, players need to analyze the conditions in which they are. For example, a player needs to understand weather conditions, for instance, the wind. It is also necessary to analyze the conditions of the course, such as the lie of the ball. All these factors should be considered in the target selection for a player to get a good shot.
When taking difficult shots, players also need to visualize fully. It is done after a player has factored in the challenges of the wind and selected the target. Visualization requires a player to focus in his/her mind how the ball will exactly move in the air and finally land at the selected target. Visualization is a subconscious process that players are involved in when they are in the zone (Andrisani, 2003).
Players get to feel the kind of shot that they intend to take without thinking about it. They do not take the time to think about anything technical that they have not learnt during the warm-up sessions. Internal feeling is essential for taking perfect shots when a player is faced with difficult shots. The moment before taking difficult shots in the golf game are about reinforcing the decisions that a player has made. It is wrong to start having doubts. A player needs to be fully committed to the shot and avoid having doubts. A player gets to trust the swing, and a difficulty shot may become easier and manageable. The post-shot routine involves accepting the shot obtained and moving quickly. It needs to be the routine whether the ball hits the water or lands within ten feet.
Winokur and Barton (2002) state that the greatest enemy of a golfer in the mental game is fear. Golfers are faced with the supreme challenge of working their ways to overcome this emotion. Fear may be a factor of adverse emotions that have the capacity to undermine golfer sound mechanical skills. No matter the level of fear, players should try to avoid developing fear in the mental game. Even in small doses, fear is a significant cause of poor performance in golf.
Winokur and Barton (2002) suggest that the way out of fear can be realized through a number of steps. The first step that a player should take is to make conscious decisions not to be afraid. When a player finds it difficult to avoid fear, it is necessary for a player to avoid being afraid of this emotion. When a player becomes courageous on the course, then it is unlikely that he/she will develop psychological discomfort or unnecessary emotions. The state of mind will be a great advantage to a player. Most golfers are particularly interested in earning recognition. They fear embarrassment, and remain tensed while on the course as they strive to excel.
Kroen (2004) states that people’s minds often get divided when they are preparing to hit important shots. One side of the mind concentrates on executing the shot while the other side shows concern about the perceptions that people would develop from the shot. For example, a player’s mind focuses on what people will say if the shot is blown without a display of an attempt to reach the target. Player’s primary concern in the mental game of golf should be to play mastery golf. It is a type of golf that involves a player’s total focus on the game and avoidance of fear and its results.
Players who have a good mastery orientation towards/within the game are likely to engage themselves fully (Kroen, 2004). They fully orientate themselves towards the game with an aim to continually refine, learn and master the game regardless of their level of expertise. The mastery derived players are more concerned about how they can elevate their skills and the ability to attain the next level of competence.
To accomplish the goal to pursue continuous improvement in golf, players should always be keen to embrace the concept of hard work for continuous improvement. Players do not need to expose themselves to various grueling practices or regimes to achieve this goal. They should make the pursuit of continuous improvement to be their key interest. Players should take their practices as enjoyable moments of their lifetime such that they do not develop stress out of the need to perfect their skills. The concept of pursuit for continuous improvement is also vital for a player who wishes to move away from the ego-oriented goals. A player should not concentrate on the ego-oriented interests, such as winning the public fame as he/she has won in games (Kroen, 2004)
Golf is a complex game that requires players to combine physical strength and mental expertise in order to achieve good results (Valiante, 2013). The game requires players to show a high level of expertise, confidence, patience and control of emotions while on the course. Golfers need to do many warm-ups to excel in the game. Golf players reach a point referred to as “the zone.” When players reach the zone, they play with a maximum concentration, and the only form of control comes from the subconscious mind. Players realize their best competence while in the zone where all that they do is to follow their visions. Golf is highly mental, and players have enough time to think before executing a shot.
Golf players must display a high level of mental competence (Valiante, 2013). They must maintain their focus throughout the game. The only time when a golfer should engage the conscious mind is before getting ready to take a shot. At such a point, a golfer concentrates on how best the shot should be taken with respect to an already identified target.
Good shots in golf are achieved by making good swings. Golfers need to avoid getting emotional when they get the first bad shots. Emotional influences in golfers worsen their situation and may stiffen their nerves such that the next shots may be worse. Whenever a player gets emotional, as a result, of a bad shot, it is essential to have some internal dialogue that helps to regain confidence (Kroen, 2004).
When a player has full confidence in himself/herself, he/she is likely to execute his/her shots with much concentration hence get good shots. Self-confidence helps to reduce psychological discomfort and emotional influence in the game. A player should never doubt his/her ability to perform to the expectation. It is necessary to utter some motivational sentiments to oneself when faced with challenges on the course. Reflections on the previous achievements serve to boost a player’s confidence (Cohn, 1994).
The mental game of golf has several external challenges. A player has no control over the external forces, such as bad weather, a rough course of play, and the decisions made by the game officials. What often makes a difference from great players and good players is their level of concentration while playing. Players should always focus on the task that they have at hand so that external destructors may not influence their performance. Every shot in the game of golf is independent and important. A player should concentrate when taking all shots so that the previously taken shot does not have a negative impact on the next one. If the first shot were unsatisfactory, a player should concentrate on improving on the next one so that in covers for challenges encountered in the previous shot.
Golf players need to prepare themselves adequately for a tournament. Adequate preparation for the game starts with psychological preparation and warm-ups. Good players of golf are able to control their emotions, as well as to attain full control of their game. Proper nutrition is also essential for the players. Golf players should maintain good health and avoid dehydration. Players are advised to take fruits and nuts to increase their concentration in the game.