Mental strategy

Started by : Justin R |

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Justin R


Does anyone have some sort of mental strategy when playing. Someone told me that I should take the course three holes at a time, but I find when I have a bad hole especially when is the first hole, I can't come back from it and my round is ruined. What type of strategies do you guys have?

Dave T


Justin, 
I have heard that same technique.  I am a 14 handicap.  I usually have one blow up a round.  I have started doing two things to help me recover from a bad hole.  First, after a bad hole I go over all the good shots that I had.  For instance, I had a 10 on a par five the other day.  Instead of ranting about the OB ball and the Skulled sand shot, I thought about the good 2nd drive, and the good chip recovery.  Sometimes bad holes are a matter of a bad kick, not judging the greens correctly, not a bad hit.  Finally, when I get on the next tee, I think to myself.... at least I am not at work, I take a deep breath and I hit the next tee shot.  I have become very good at following a double or worse with a par/birdie.  If I don't, then I keep taking each hole by itself until I do.  Since I have started this technique, I have started finishing very well, even to 1 over on the last 5 holes, that is good for me.

Simply put...  Bad hole, go over the good shots that you had, then flush it before the next tee.   
Good Luck,
Dave 

Chris C


I find that when I slow the game down and try to focus and execute each shot I score well. Even if I hit a bad shot I try to refocus, take my medicine, and make a par or bogey. You will most likely be able to make up one or two bogies, but one or two doubles and your round isn't looking so hot.

Bradley S


The mental aspect of golf is a difficult dragon to slay especially when you let the first hole

determine your entire round. My advice is to attempt to have the same mindset you do after you

make three birdies in a row, or something comparable. Your positive, confident, and feeling

like your going to drain another one if you make it on in GIR. One hole really isn't going to break

or make your round unless the number is something ridiculous. However, one strategy isn't going

to work for everyone. You can stay with the 3 hole approach, or go to a one hole at a time method

or even play the hole backwards in your mind in order to mentally set up each shot beforehand.

My first instructor left me with some advice I still maintain as an assistant pro at my country club.

Think bad, play bad. Don't forget, golf is a game, have fun.

Hunter G


my mental strategy is think more positively. Say you hit a well struck shot but it ended up bad you shouldnt get angry about it. Another thing is play every hole 1 par higher. 3s as 4s 4s as 5s and so on makes it easier

Cody D


All I can kind of say is cetain approaches don't work for everybody. Kind of like fad diets, Nutrisystem might work for some but not all. Maybe go back or try to remember what made you successful at certain areas of your golf game. Anything positive can be a building block whether it's a solid iron shot or putt made is a start. I'm no sports psychologist but visualizing shots or where you want to be might help. If not, there's always that mental game material on Golf Channel.

Matt G


I use Dr. Morris Pickens strategy, he is a sports psychologist and has three major championships under his belt. It's pretty complex and I'm still working on it. He has written two books on it. But basically it consists of the 4rs. When you are thinking your best, you focus on one shot at a time. Your best chance of focusing on one shot at a time is to have a thinking process which occupies your mind. The thinking process which has helped produce over 200 victories including 10 PGA tour victories and 3 major championships is called "The 4r's of golf". In order for this process to improve your game, it must become a consistent part of your game, not an "add-on" when you feel it's needed. It's always needed. 

1st R: Refocusing

Refocusing refers to how you process all the relevant information before playing the upcoming shot. It occurs about 5-10 steps before you get to your ball, and you want to think of refocusing as the time you "tune back in" to golf. Refocusing must occur on every shot because without it, it is impossible to athletically "look and react" and hit great shots or putts.

2nd R: Routine

An effective pre-shot routine is really a combination of two distinct routine, one physical and one mental. When meshed together, they provide a relaxed yet consitent focus which will allow you to hit good shots. The three components of an effective mental routine are: 1) a very specific target, 2) one positive swing thought, 3) commitment to the shot. The objective of including a swing though in your mental routine is to occupy your mind so that you can stay calm and focused, free of other distractions. There is no such thing as a partial routine.

3rd R: React

The first meaning of react is letting your eyes come back to the ball and swinging the club. The second meaning of react is how you respond mentally, emotionally, and physically after you hit the shot. How could you go from hitting it so good to so poor so quickly? Easy --- You lost trust in your body's ability to react to the target. Working on your swing while playing is an invitation to worse play. Use an "emotional zone" (ei. tee box for bad drive, bunker for bad bunker shots, green for bad putts) to get out your frustration, accept it as part of the game, and get over it and on to the next shot.

4th R: Relax

Thinking about golf consistently is almost always counterproductive to great golf. Learn to enjoy the journey of the day. Playing relaxed, even under intense competitive situations, is a process that you can learn to control and excel in.

The 4r's is HOW you "play one shot at a time". To get results, you don't focus on the results.

All this above takes time, I have only given you two pages out of a 120+ page book. I suggest you try to find on of them, they are great. But remember golf is a game that loves to beat you down, you must have a positive resilient mindset.

Dr. Mo's two books - Learn to win one shot at a time. & Learn tow win a major.

Gaetan B


Always think of the shot that your about to play and never have a negative thought about it. Also, always take it one hole at a time, you can't change what has already happened. Think of it this way, any hot streak you've ever been on while playing is not a fluke but what you're truly capable of doing. Create a pre-shop routine and stick to it for every shot; there will be times for the more difficult shots that a couple extra practice swings will be helpful, but never deter from this routine. The routine will help you set your mind before each shot.

If you want a great book to read, buy "Golf is not a Game of Perfect." Helped me a lot.

Nate S


I just try to have fun. I am 13 and I hate walking 9 holes alone. I always try to get paired with someone. Then you start talking to them and you don't really care about how you play but you play good. Why? Because your not thinking about it. I play on my inter-club team and last year I won the last even we played at the Peninsula Club. Same with last year, I won this year because I was having fun and just wasn't thinking about it. Try it! Never walk 9 holes alone and always start a conversation.

Justin R


Thanks everyone for the great advice, I really appreciate it. I am a high school golfer and I posted this because I just came off a round of 77 with a triple on 16. 76 would of put me into CIF individual so I was just getting some ideas on how to handle those types of holes.

Lou G


Justin R
Thanks everyone for the great advice, I really appreciate it. I am a high school golfer and I posted this because I just came off a round of 77 with a triple on 16. 76 would of put me into CIF individual so I was just getting some ideas on how to handle those types of holes.
The first step in playing better golf is to not take the game seriously. That makes it easier to shake off bad shots. Take your time, check your setup when stepping up to the ball.

Chris G


Everyone has bad holes even the pros. Take one shot at a time. Don't get angry. The best pros hit bad shots but it's not the bad shot we remember, it's the recovery and resolve they show thereafter. Golf is fun and relaxing unless ur a pro and it's ur job. Remember that. I hit three terrible shots today during my round but I hit three great recovers on my way to a tough 74

Lou G


3 pars in a row (GIR) yesterday then I lost my swing and had a triple bogey. Able to recover and finish with two bogeys.

Cathi, Titleist Club Concierge


Chris G
Everyone has bad holes even the pros. Take one shot at a time. Don't get angry. The best pros hit bad shots but it's not the bad shot we remember, it's the recovery and resolve they show thereafter. Golf is fun and relaxing unless ur a pro and it's ur job. Remember that. I hit three terrible shots today during my round but I hit three great recovers on my way to a tough 74

You hit the nail on the head..... when you look at the pros, it's the amazing attitude and recovery shot we remember, not the fact that they were in the trees (Bubba) or missed the green and in the bunker.  It is easier said than done to keep a positive attitude when you know you should have nailed the shot and it doesn't come off the way you imagined it, but if you can do that, you will have more energy focusing on making a good shot (rather than negative energy dragging you down). That's my two cents :)

Robert H


Hey Justin,

I have had but just one strategy sense I took up the game......

I look forward... Plain and simple. I never look back to where I just hit a ball from. As soon as it has left my club head, no matter where it goes, I keep my eyes and thoughts moving forward.

I turn 50, June 6th and will have held my USGA Handicap at +1 or better for the last 28 years. Weather I'm playing with my brothers or playing a local or USGA event, I keep my mind moving forward. You would be amazed how well you recover from a bad shot or hole by looking straight ahead and keeping your head up. Hell... I can't wait to see what kind of shot I get to put off once I get to my ball... Sure don't have time to worry how I got there.

As far as course strategy goes? I pretty much pick my target and I stick to it and live with the result. I automatically believe that I am four under when I step on the first tee. If there are four par five's then that's what I believe. I now I'm going to have a few bogies, but if I take advantage of the five pars and limit myself on the rest, it all ends up good and my beer and burger in the clubhouse tastes just a little better.

Good luck out there and keep looking forward.

Lou G


Lou G
3 pars in a row (GIR) yesterday then I lost my swing and had a triple bogey. Able to recover and finish with two bogeys.
There was also a lesson learned - never go straight from hitting on the simulator mats at a golf shop to the course. Tends to mess up your swing.

JPHB


I HIGHLY recommend "Fearless Golf" by Dr. Gio Valiante - amazing book - I was shooting in the 80s for the past 2 seasons and after utilizing his methods last year I had two rounds in the 70s - a 79 followed by a 77.  

Check it out - it's a great read and it works

Jason

Skylar T


Just take it one shot at a time and that's all you can control.  If you perform each shot well, then the score will take care of itself.

Mads


Firstly, its golf, so in my experience it rare goes the way one expect.  I say that to myself over and over and over again. 

I try to make it as simple as possible.  So I try to focus on one shot at the time.

I always decide and visualise how I want to play a hole.  I do that as walking to the hole. That way I am ready to pick my club when I arrive at the tee (totally independent of the other players).  Then I go back to focusing on the shot I am going to do now.  Hence I completely forget a shot when it's done.  As my expectation play up, I often force myself to forget the shot and start visualising my next shot.

I found that I play the best on days when I can manage this part of the game.

SD_Golfer


More than 0nce I have thought about the react part, I tend to do most everything else, but after I address the ball, look up to see what I want my shot to do, I look at my ball and pause ... that makes me think and we all know thinking in golf is best between shots  :)  I am going to try to react tomorrow

Ron B


Most golf scores are defined by three holes - and sometimes, that means just three golf shots, either very good or very poor.  By that I mean, the difference between a great round and a poor one is very often determined by just three holes - since most of us score about the same on average for fifteen holes per round.  A single digit handicap may be able to count on ten or twelve pars and three to five bogeys every round - a great round is if there are also a couple of birdies, a poor one is if there are a couple of doubles.  Someone who averages mid-90s probably plays under bogey-golf except for three holes per round - and his/her best round ever may be the day they also parred the other three. 

The trick after a poor first hole is to just remember that those holes are going to occur - so look forward to the next four hours trying to get back one or two of those shots.  There is a certain freedom in knowing this isn't likely to be your personal best round - takes all the pressure off the next seventeen holes.  And playing relaxed is probably the best way to score well!

Josh G


I'm a big fan of breaking the course up into 6, 3 hole rounds.  Give yourself a target score for each those three hole "rounds" and then move forward.  It keeps me on a even keel which is what I need to play my best.

Cathi, Titleist Club Concierge


I like that - then you start from the beginning every three holes.  No need to keep beating yourself up for that double you took 4 holes ago.   Helps you to look for ward to the next "round".  Thanks!

Dan W


Chris G
Everyone has bad holes even the pros. Take one shot at a time. Don't get angry. The best pros hit bad shots but it's not the bad shot we remember, it's the recovery and resolve they show thereafter. Golf is fun and relaxing unless ur a pro and it's ur job. Remember that. I hit three terrible shots today during my round but I hit three great recovers on my way to a tough 74

Amen to that Chris!

Just focus on the shot you are hitting RIGHT NOW and what you need to do to hit that shot to very best of your ability. If Bubba was thinking about his lousy tee shot he never would've been able to hit that amazing approach shot.

Alex H


Hey Justin,

Golf is a fabulous game and it is terrifyingly difficult at times, but nonetheless, we are all addicted to playing it. 

Something that really helps is to establish a pre-shot and post-shot routine, where for every shot you rehearse your routine, no matter what is going on. This helps to keep one in the zone. 

And then I think this thought really helps to put things into perspective and make an imperfect round seem more enjoyable, so think about this next time you play...

Golf is so much fun, and we are all so lucky and fortunate to be able to play. We should just be thankful that we are able to play this game no matter what happens. This is what i think about when things get rough, it totally changes my perspective on the game and life and makes my time out there more enjoyable and almost always helps me play better

good luck 

alex 

Erick R


A friend of mine was shooting 55's for 9 holes because of bad shots that would "linger".  He changed his approach to breaking the course up to 3 holes at a time and shot a 37.  

Josh G

I'm a big fan of breaking the course up into 6, 3 hole rounds.  Give yourself a target score for each those three hole "rounds" and then move forward.  It keeps me on a even keel which is what I need to play my best.

eagle3


For as long as I have played this game, mental toughness has at times failed me, but overall, that is the answer. A positive mental attitude is also a great advantage for one to have. this game can throw curves unlike any baseball pitcher can throw and it really helps to have that mental attitude that can carry you over and thru the rough spots.

Geoffrey B


Play the game swing by swing

Don O


Geoffrey B

Play the game swing by swing

Just like Phil M. did on D-1 at the PGA.  Credited with the most impressive round of 73 ever.  Any mortal would have been looking at 78 or more with the fairways he didn't hit.  Like the Pink Bunny, just kept going and going.  There is no way he kept his last shot on his mind. 

He inspires me.

Dave M


You should get a better understanding of your own mental profile.( Bobby Foster, a certified behavorial analyst and a former teaching pro and golf coach at the university of South Carolina, has developed a unique online system powered by the highly effective DISC profiling system. )

http://www.mygolfconditioning.com/MentalGolfProfile.html

Thanks,

Dave