By Kathy Gildersleeve-Jensen
2014 PGA National Teacher of the Year
Your brain is a powerful tool that can serve as one of your greatest resources in the game of golf. A common reason a player will get mentally bound up is that you don’t trust yourself or your skills. Trust is a huge part of the mental game of golf. Trusting your skills, knowledge, surroundings, past experiences, practice sessions, and confidence leads to a great game.
To find the “zone” in your golf game (the sign of reaching true comfort in golf) one needs to truly trust their skills. Trust is the firm belief in your own reliability, truth, ability, or strength.
How do you incorporate this trust factor into your golf game? There are several ways to develop your skills to execute your golf shots so you can excel. You must also fine-tune how you perceive and manage each situation that lies within your control. Doing your best and patiently preparing for the next shot ahead of you is the best you can do for each situation.
One of our greatest golf challenges could be handling a miss-hit and working to recover and produce a score. The scorecard, itself, is simply for keeping score– rather than being a map of how the score was obtained. Transcending the emotion of the situation and playing your best at whatever your skill level, can help you to better learn from your past and improve your game in the future.
Here are a few tips to help in learning to trust yourself on the golf course:
- See a PGA or LPGA Golf Professional and discuss your goals. This will help you to stay on track with the process.
- Practice your skills to gain confidence. Understand your weaknesses to improve in these specific areas. Remember to practice so you can better keep your game strong and your skills sharp.
- Play, play, and play golf. It is different from working on your swing on the practice areas. Playing puts, you into situations– whether you like it not. It allows you to discover and learn from the issues at face value. Be creative if your same routine doesn’t work. There are usually more ways than one to execute a shot with confidence. Practicing and problem-solving creates more trust in your decision-making and can markedly improve your results.
- After you play, keep track of your data and work that into your next practice sessions. Some examples of data that will be instrumental in helping your growth include: keeping track of your putts, charting your drive directions on every hole, tracking the number of greens in regulation, counting how many short shots there are, logging your distance control (e.g. are you short or long on your shots?), recording the number of penalties, and so on.
- Remember this is a “game”. It is a game of strategy with many variables. Do things that produce the higher number of controlled shots that you know how to execute. After figuring this out, make it your own strategy.
It isn’t a game of perfection. Yet each day will bring surprises that will help you to adjust to perform better.
- Ask yourself:
- Do you trust yourself with this decision? If so, are you mentally confident enough to make it happen?
- If you don’t trust your decision, you are most likely to fail. This can result in a reduction in your degree of confidence on future shots in the game.
With a calm and confident mind, you’ll not only make better decisions on the golf course, but you’ll find more success as you move forward in your games in the years to come.