Golf is just as much a mental game as it is a physical one. As Bobby Jones famously said, “Competitive golf is played mainly on a five-and-a-half-inch course … the space between your ears.” Oh, how that statement rings true.
It’s part of the allure of the game, but it’s also one of the most frustrating elements. Managing your emotions is one of the biggest thrills in golf, and it’s also one of the most difficult.
Even the best in the world must find a way to manage their mind on the course. Often the biggest separator between PGA Tour-caliber players and mini tour players is simply the ability to win the mental game. Everyone can make birdies, but it’s far more difficult to make birdies and keep your composure all the time.
And most elite golfers will tell you the method for keeping their emotions in check is to keep a strict routine on the course. Treat every shot the same, and never let up on your focus. Stick to the routine.
Louis Oosthuizen was blunt when asked at the BMW Championship about his mental preparations for every shot. What is it that goes through his mind just before he initiates the swing?
“Don’t hit it in the trouble,” he laughed. “That’s my first one.”
If only it were that simple.
Oosthuizen went on to explain that when he stands over the ball, he’s always trying to visualize the specifics of what he wants to do with the shot — where to start it, where to finish, shape, trajectory, spin, etc.
“It’s always with the intention of hitting the best shot possible,” he said.
Then, it’s all in the execution.
“Stand there, make a good swing, take the shot and hit your shot,” he said. “Never think a negative thought of what not to do; that’s the last thing you want to think of.”
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