Baseball great Yogi Berra said, “Half of baseball is 90% mental,” and people laughed. But it’s true in baseball and in golf. You’ve got to have some physical ability and a basic understanding of the game to succeed, but harnessing the mental toughness to concentrate, to really focus on every single stroke, that’s the 90% you’ve got to harness to excel at golf.
To do that, you need a mental roadmap from your current handicap to the handicap your physical skill can take you to, starting with these psychological tips.
1. Forget the Mulligan at Bend’s Top Golf Course
Whether you start on the front nine or the back at River’s Edge, you’re going to have some challenging holes. But don’t cheat yourself by thinking, “Well, if I shank my first shot, I’ve got a Mulligan.” That’s a psychological copout. It allows you to be weak and not demand your best.
Instead, know that you can make a quality first drive, and stick with that idea all through the day. There aren’t any free lunches in life. Own your first shot!
2. Golf’s not a Video Game
As with the Mulligan, some players have gotten so used to playing video games where they get “more lives” that they refuse to concentrate on every swing. Golf is real. It’s larger than life for many players, there’s no following back on the next round like you do in a video game.
Always play in the moment. Every round, every hole, and every shot are a testament to your dedication and skill.
3. Practice with Goals
Practice should be a ritualistic reassessment of your current game. If you are driving great but chipping poorly, spend more time off the fringe so you can get up and down in two – not booming 300-yard drives.
When you do hit the driving range, using a tee is fine, but skip the tee with your other clubs. Practice shots with multiple clubs and play them all off the dirt or short grass. Then, set some goals. Can you make 10 straight 5-footers? How about 10 straight long chips within a 10-foot radius? You can do it!
4. Pressure Play is Psychologically Sound
If you never feel any pressure while playing the top golf course in Bend, perhaps you are making great use of your rounds at River’s Edge. Or, as Benjamin Franklin said, “Worry more that you aren’t reaching your goals instead of being happy you’ve reached so many.”
Now I don’t think Mr. Franklin was talking about golf, but I do think he was saying we should set goals that are realistic but tough, not simple to achieve. If you aren’t feeling some pressure, perhaps you need tougher goals. You do want to improve, don’t you?
5. Practice Like it’s Important
Consider an hour of practice to be like a round of golf and you’ll be more focused, and practice harder. Practice your drives, chips, and putts like every single one counts and do them with the same intensity and commitment you give to 18-holes at Central Oregon’s best golf course.
If you play them the same – without headphones, phone calls, or temper tantrums – your psychological makeup for your next round will be much better than your last!