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iacas

The Mental Game in Two Words

82 posts in this topic

I'm not talking about your pre-shot routine. I'm not name-dropping and telling you to shoot "aggressively" at "conservative" targets. I'm not going to tell you about deep breathing techniques, visualizing the shot, or any mumbo jumbo like that.

I'm also not talking about course management.

I'm talking about the mental game - the six inches between your ears that lets you play good golf - as good or better golf than when you're relaxed, having fun, etc.

And here it is in two words: enjoy pressure.

That's all there is to it. If you can learn to enjoy the pressure that accompanies whatever hurdles you want to overcome in your game - making a putt on the last hole to win your $2 nassau or competing in local amateur events or the pressure you face when you're standing on the 18th tee needing a score to shoot your lowest score ever - the game becomes easier.

There are a lot of ways to learn to enjoy pressure. I seem to take an "I'll show YOU!" type of approach. I love the feeling you get when you stick it close on the last hole. And if you don't stick it close, well, then I love the possibility of holing out from the bunker, fringe, rough, etc.

Others make it a little more personal - they want to prove to themselves that they can do something, just for their own sake.

Players who do not enjoy being in the limelight (again, even if it's just to win a $2 nassau) simply avoid it or attempt to get out of it quickly

But that's all there is to it, and it's one of the reasons why we play the game. Enjoy pressure.

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i have to agree with that. My game improved my leaps and bounds once i stopped getting angry. I use to be pissed that the smallest of details, it wasn't even reasonable for me to be that mad with my level of ability.

But, yea, enjoying pressure is the key. Embracing the challenge..

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The women on the U.S. team could have done a little more "embracing the challenge." They had the Cup won, even with Kerr's give-away of a point, but failed to play the closing holes - particularly #18 - well at all.

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What do you think inhibates golfers from enjoying the pressure?  I think it takes practice like anything else but more often than not that "pressure" can take over

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Originally Posted by iacas

The women on the U.S. team could have done a little more "embracing the challenge." They had the Cup won, even with Kerr's give-away of a point, but failed to play the closing holes - particularly #18 - well at all.


Spoiler alert?

*grumble*

And to think I specifically avoided the Solheim thread today until I've seen the last hour.

In relation to the original topic it's great advice! Lots of things in life will always be out of your control and fighting against them serves no purpose other than to upset or annoy yourself. If you can get into a mind state where you can think, "you know what? I can't do anything about this so I'm going to turn it into a challenge for myself and something I will enjoy" then you can expect a much happier and more fulfilled life and game of golf. This is something I've literally learned over the last 6 months or so with various work irritations and problems I can't control.

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I would agree; pressure speeds everything up for me if I let it get to me, but when I put it aside and get amped by it, it goes much better.

Unfortunately, however,  I think too many of us can have our mental game summed up with 2 other words: F****D UP!!!

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Originally Posted by mvmac

What do you think inhibates golfers from enjoying the pressure?


Basic personality. I think a lot of people simply aren't cut out for it in the standard ways. I still think "enjoying pressure" is the key, but the difficulty for some is finding reasons why or how to enjoy the pressure. Someone who doesn't want to succeed (for whatever reason) is going to have one of the most difficult times.

Originally Posted by gogolfing

Unfortunately, however,  I think too many of us can have our mental game summed up with 2 other words: F****D UP!!!


I think that a lot of people conflate "course management" and "pressure." When I say "enjoy the pressure" I don't think people should take that as "try a shot you have very little chance of pulling off." And I think that's what people think of when someone says "mental game." They think more "course management" than "pressure situations."

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I agree. I see your "enjoy pressure" as enjoying the situation of a tournament round, a shot to win the nassau etc... not as course management. Enjoying the pressure shouldn't equate with always trying the hero shot.

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I agree you have to enjoy pressure but in my past experiences to enjoy the pressure of the moment you need the confidence in yourself to perform under it.  I like pressure - do some of my best work under pressure but on the course I find that because I don't have full confidence in my swing the addition of pressure to a situation is enough to make things go bad.

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Originally Posted by newtogolf

I agree you have to enjoy pressure but in my past experiences to enjoy the pressure of the moment you need the confidence in yourself to perform under it.  I like pressure - do some of my best work under pressure but on the course I find that because I don't have full confidence in my swing the addition of pressure to a situation is enough to make things go bad.


I don't know that I agree. Confidence is a state of mind.

I was playing a tournament recently and was driving it well, but my irons were so-so and I was kind of scraping it around a little bit. Came to the last hole and hit two bad drives, but found them both and my first was in a decent position. Pitched back to the fairway and had 142 into some light wind. Selected an 8I and partner says "let's grind this out." BAM: I immediately put myself into "enjoy the pressure." There was no "tournament pressure" because we were out of it at that point (even if I had holed the 8I), but I had pressure to "close it out on a good note."

I can trick myself into being confident. I may have done a few things - slowed down a bit, took a deeper breath, simplified a swing thought... whatever it was, I knew I'd hit a good shot. And I did.

I think that "tricking yourself into being confident" is almost the same thing as "enjoy pressure." Or at least they go hand in hand. How can you enjoy pressure if you're not confident in yourself?

Even on my terrible days I'm sure I can do something to pull off a good shot. Even if it's hitting a 6I from 142 with some sort of high slappy cut or something.

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I understand completely what you're saying, but there's a difference between being a scratch or pro golfer and having a bad day and being a 23 handicap.  For you a bad shot is an anomoly for me it's quite common, so I have to deal with the pressure as well as my own lack of skill and experience.   It's hard to be confident when you don't have a history of success to drawn upon.

Originally Posted by iacas

I don't know that I agree. Confidence is a state of mind.

I was playing a tournament recently and was driving it well, but my irons were so-so and I was kind of scraping it around a little bit. Came to the last hole and hit two bad drives, but found them both and my first was in a decent position. Pitched back to the fairway and had 142 into some light wind. Selected an 8I and partner says "let's grind this out." BAM: I immediately put myself into "enjoy the pressure." There was no "tournament pressure" because we were out of it at that point (even if I had holed the 8I), but I had pressure to "close it out on a good note."

I can trick myself into being confident. I may have done a few things - slowed down a bit, took a deeper breath, simplified a swing thought... whatever it was, I knew I'd hit a good shot. And I did.

I think that "tricking yourself into being confident" is almost the same thing as "enjoy pressure." Or at least they go hand in hand. How can you enjoy pressure if you're not confident in yourself?

Even on my terrible days I'm sure I can do something to pull off a good shot. Even if it's hitting a 6I from 142 with some sort of high slappy cut or something.



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But even at a 23, there are still things you do well.  I play best when I just think about what I want to do with the next shot and play within my abilities.

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Originally Posted by boogielicious

But even at a 23, there are still things you do well.  I play best when I just think about what I want to do with the next shot and play within my abilities.


Exactly. If you get to the last hole needing a birdie, that might be unreasonable, but if you have a 400-yard hole with water right, I think it's well within your grasp to hit the ball 240 down the left side, even if it's in the rough, and from 160, get the ball "near" the green, and then get up and down or two-putt for par. Those types of things are "within your abilities." I don't care if you hit a hybrid from 160 out - I think it's within your goals to give yourself a par putt.

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I like that. I have a feeling that most people would have a hard time embracing pressure though.

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For me, pressure most often is in the form of a recovery shot. It may be a shot that has to go around a tree, carry water, or something, where the price of a screw-up is a wasted stroke and danger of double bogey. I've grown to be more accepting of it, but in the beginning I hated it. I hated anything that made my shot harder than it had to be. I hated knowing I had to hit a good shot to avoid getting a bad score. I hated having to hit a good shot to get a result that was better than just chipping the ball 20 feet to the side. Still don't love pressure, but I dare say there's the [i]occasional[/i] moment I enjoy it. And some of my proudest moments are good recovery shots. Unfortunately, I do tend to be a pessimist, and standing over the ball there's usually more things that can go wrong than right. That never helps the feeling of pressure. :-P
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In the past I had nearly always been able to deal well with and even thrive on pressure, be it in academics, athletics, or just life situations.  When I came back to golf after almost a decade away I somehow thought that I should be able to play as well as I did when I left, so I put lots of undue pressure on myself and didn't handle it well or live up to my own unrealistic expectations.  I've improved my mental game since that time and more like in the past I just don't feel much pressure on the course.  I try to come prepared by practicing different things to see what works with my new golf swing (i now hit a draw instead of a fade) and by simply having confidence that I can do what I think I'm capable of doing within reasonable means.  I hit about 1200 balls a month and get to the course only about every six weeks but when I do play I try to do so with a smile and not think that I'm capable of doing something that I can't do (yet).  If I pull off a shot like I once did much more often, great.  If not, no problem, I'll just get to the next shot and hit it as well as I can.  I have a good friend and playing partner to thank for my change in attitude.  He pointed out to me that I'm not the same golfer that I once was and that I should just go out and have fun.  Whatever happens, happens.  It gets better every day.

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I think that is one way to be on top of things however not the only.

That was always my approach, even in high pressue situations I was always just enjoying myself. It allowed me to do well on tests and especially in team sports.

However you could replace enjoy with any number of words to get a similar result.

I know people who simply ignored pressure or people who were seemingly immune to it. Some people I knew also played sports very angrily with success they made themselves hate their opponent to replace pressure with rage.

Rage probably works a lot better in rugby then it does in Golf but.... the  mental game is really about maintaining confidence under pressure and their are many ways to accomplish that.

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i have to agree with, that you can trick yourself into being confident. I was standing over a putt, ones i usually miss. Then i just grinned and said to myself, im going to make this putt. I put it dead smack center, perfect putt.

It just takes practice, actually i would say its takes getting use to.

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