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The Mental Game in Two Words

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My primary trigger point for allowing pressure to destroy my game comes from the fear of looking bad in front of an audience, especially people I do not know. If I think someone is watching me the ball could literally go anywhere. Conversely, I always play my best when I am alone and no one is in sight. When playing at my country club that happens often. Other venues not so much. I really do not know why the opinion of others regarding my golf game is so important because I am well aware there will ALWAYS be more guys out there better than me than the other way around and I have never proclaimed to be a good golfer, just the opposite. But somehow my competitive spirit just cannot accept being the duffer to a bunch of stripers. I dream of a day when I could step up to the first tee box with a group of complete strangers looking on and send a beautiful drive down the middle like I do when alone. Do not see that in my future.

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Quote:
Originally Posted by Downrange45 View Post

My primary trigger point for allowing pressure to destroy my game comes from the fear of looking bad in front of an audience, especially people I do not know.

Did you read the first post in the thread? So the next time you go out and play with people take the opportunity to "enjoy the pressure". It'll take you a few times but start putting yourself in that mind set.

Quote:
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.

One other thing to understand is that no one else really cares about your golf game, their too busy with their own. Only negative thing people remember is if you act like an a$$hole ;-)

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One other thing to understand is that no one else really cares about your golf game, their too busy with their own. Only negative thing people remember is if you act like an a$$hole

Yeah. Nobody but you care. If you're betting someone, I guess they will care… but even they mostly care about their own shots.

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A good video on Spieth's ability to stay positive.

Interesting stat,

Spieth is 6th on the PGA Tour in bounce back with 28% of the time going under par on the next hole after going over par on the previous. Given PGA Tour players are very good. He's 7% better than the PGA Tour average.

What I like from the video is training yourself to be positive. Even if you have to use false logic, or basically lie to yourself, then do it.

I think athletes can do this in two ways. They either shrug off the negative, like Spieth. They channel the negative into focusing harder, I think Tiger ended up in this area more often. Not to say he didn't ride the positive.

I think when you start to try to improve your swing you can get stuck in practice mode on the course. Not that you are practicing on the course, but you care about making a perfect swing instead of just playing golf.

I need to get more to this again (see below). I use to do this a lot when I wasn't trying to improve my swing (before The Sandtrap). I would hit a bad short game shot and I would think, "Ok time to show why I am good at 20 foot putts".

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.

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A couple of thoughts.

Personally, sometimes I get in the mode of trying not to fail instead of trying to succeed.  Occasionally I will tell myself to "focus... let's make a birdie here"  and my concentration and focus will increase.  It's difficult to keep that up for an entire round and I think the best golfer's can turn that focus on and off.  Still, I play my best when I don't talk very much to my competitors and can be pretty much in my own world.

Second, I find when I'm in a situation where I want to hit a good shot I slow down too much.  Everything becomes mechanical and doesn't feel natural.  I guess it's a matter of "trying too hard" where the best players try to put the same emphasis on every shot I put more emphasis on certain shots.  Grip tension gets tight, muscles get tight and a bad shot follows.

Did you watch the Web.com tournament on TV this weekend?  In the playoff the caddie for the Asian player said, "enjoy it" as his last words right before his shot into 18.  He didn't win but I wonder if he read your post.

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Great video. That imaging thing. I did have a pro tell me one time that we tend to focus too much on the negative and forget the positive things.

Once upon a time I could bomb my driver, then I couldn't hit it anymore. No matter what I couldn't hit it anymore. Then I had to remember the rounds that I could hit my driver well. I had to dig back and remember those good shots. Then my current pro showed me one last technique and the distance came. Sure I'll hit a bad shot with it every now and then, but I know I've hit it 240, 250, and on Tuesday 269 and kept it on the fairway, if I allow myself to just cut loose with it. Remember the good shots.

I remember the good shots I've hit with my six iron, so the six iron is always there. Same with my 5 iron and 7 iron. But I don't have that image in my brain with my 8 iron and 9 iron or hybrid? Why? I've figured out why with my Vokey wedge - it's the arrow - the club is way too heavy and throws off my tempo.

This game does not like negative thoughts. If you are an emotional player, this game will punish you. You have to stay focused in the moment and have a memory like a dog.

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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.

I just found this. Thanks.

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Great video. That imaging thing. I did have a pro tell me one time that we tend to focus too much on the negative and forget the positive things.

Once upon a time I could bomb my driver, then I couldn't hit it anymore. No matter what I couldn't hit it anymore. Then I had to remember the rounds that I could hit my driver well. I had to dig back and remember those good shots. Then my current pro showed me one last technique and the distance came. Sure I'll hit a bad shot with it every now and then, but I know I've hit it 240, 250, and on Tuesday 269 and kept it on the fairway, if I allow myself to just cut loose with it. Remember the good shots.

I remember the good shots I've hit with my six iron, so the six iron is always there. Same with my 5 iron and 7 iron. But I don't have that image in my brain with my 8 iron and 9 iron or hybrid? Why? I've figured out why with my Vokey wedge - it's the arrow - the club is way too heavy and throws off my tempo.

This game does not like negative thoughts. If you are an emotional player, this game will punish you. You have to stay focused in the moment and have a memory like a dog.

Nice breakthrough!

I like the dog memory analogy. I think of how eager they are to move on to the next adventure...Going to the kitchen, great! Into to the living room, great! Back to the kitchen, great! However, I remember a dog that kept getting skunked and kept chasing them anyway. That may be like hitting into trouble constantly and not clubbing down so don't be like that dog anyway.

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IDK....I can't really say I enjoy pressure. As a matter of fact, I don't. Put I do enjoy a challenge. When I first started this game...I took it very seriously, I spent a lot of money on videos and golf clubs, did flexibility exercises and hit tons of golf balls, and got pretty good on the range. At the course, I was so nervous I couldn't drive a cart or even keep my score.... After a while...I settled down and the snowmen went away.... I'm an inconsistent golfer....I never know whats going to happen when I play....except something in my game is going to suck....might be my tee shots, might be my irons, even my short game can go to crap....(well...actually, that's not really my strong point anyway) .... But....If I keep the attitude that a bad tee shot offers an opportunity for a brilliant second out of trouble...I usually shoot a decent round....certainly better than my ability should allow... I actually say to my playing partners when I slice one off the fairway and they make a nice drive: "Hmfff, where's the fun in that? Anybody can hit from the fairway!" Point being....once I quit beating myself up for bad shots, and just accepted that I'm not really that good of a ball striker, and just concentrated on trying to make the next shot the best I could with what I had to work with....I found I could work my way around the course and not shoot that bad a score.... So for me....it's all about damage control...and problem solving and a positive attitude.

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I need to do a better job of this. Whenever i play with a particular buddy of mine, I always perform below my usual abilities and I know it's because I feel the pressure to win. I will make a conscienceeffort to "enjoy pressure" from now on

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Mental Clarity

For me this means clearing my mind of anything irrelevant. I have my routine and by the time the clubface and ball meet there *should* be nothing else in the world. Thinking about it just now, my mental routine is: stand behind the ball, observe conditions (wind, grass, etc.), target selection, practice swings easy and free while visualizing shot, intermediate target selection (blade of grass or something about about 4 feet from ball on the target line), address ball, point clubface at intermediate target with right hand on club, check against target, get in my stance and place left hand, body alignment, focus on one dimple, swing at proper tempo, hold finish. If bad shot, forget it. If not, remember it.

That type of thinking and focus for me usually crowds out all else. I'm not intense, I'm relaxed, because whether it's a critical moment at tournament, at the range, or in the park, the shot is the same. 

Disclaimer, this does always work as planned :) It takes practice just like everything else. Mental training.

Great thread! So important! Most important (for me)!

Edited by zero

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12 hours ago, zero said:

Mental Clarity

For me this means clearing my mind of anything irrelevant. I have my routine and by the time the clubface and ball meet there *should* be nothing else in the world. Thinking about it just now, my mental routine is: stand behind the ball, observe conditions (wind, grass, etc.), target selection, practice swings easy and free while visualizing shot, intermediate target selection (blade of grass or something about about 4 feet from ball on the target line), address ball, point clubface at intermediate target with right hand on club, check against target, get in my stance and place left hand, body alignment, focus on one dimple, swing at proper tempo, hold finish. If bad shot, forget it. If not, remember it.

That type of thinking and focus for me usually crowds out all else. I'm not intense, I'm relaxed, because whether it's a critical moment at tournament, at the range, or in the park, the shot is the same. 

Disclaimer, this does always work as planned :) It takes practice just like everything else. Mental training.

Great thread! So important! Most important (for me)!

Type-o, I meant DOESN'T always work as planned.

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Thought this was a great tweet:

What it means to me:

- A thought is just a thought, it's not a real thing.
- Being nervous, having "bad" thoughts don't automatically lead to bad swings or shots. "You can't fix what isn't broken".
- I've hit great shots being nervous and really crappy ones on the range with nothing on the line.
- Enjoying Pressure still rings true because it's an overall approach with your outlook or attitude. But that doesn't mean that you won't from time to time have "bad" thoughts. It's normal and you can't make yourself be perfect or think perfectly. Kind of like with a round of golf, you're going to have peaks and valleys.

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4 hours ago, mvmac said:

- Enjoying Pressure still rings true because it's an overall approach with your outlook or attitude. But that doesn't mean that you won't from time to time have "bad" thoughts. It's normal and you can't make yourself be perfect or think perfectly. Kind of like with a round of golf, you're going to have peaks and valleys.

Right.

As with anything summed up in two words, it's not definitive and absolute. :-)

(@mvmac knows this, just saying it for the record…)

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