Good golf scores depend on your physical gifts and the quality of your swing mechanics, of course. But the thoughts that flow through your mind are important as well. If you don’t make good decisions on club selection and strategy, well-hit balls can still miss the target. But if you keep your eyes on the ball and your mind on your game, you’ll have a sweet score to focus on when your round is over.
Practice in a noisy location so you can get used to overcoming distractions on the course. Find a driving range near a busy street and hit a bucket of balls during rush hour, or have some friends stand nearby and make noise while you hit.
Practice hitting tees to avoid focusing too hard on hitting the ball rather than swinging the club. Set up a line of tees then take normal swings and try to hit the top of each tee. When you play a normal round, keep your eyes on the ball at address but focus your mind on your the target and intended outcome.
Use the same pre-shot routine before every stroke, down to the last detail. From the time you remove a club from your bag until the moment you begin your swing, your actions should be exactly the same. Sticking with a routine can help make you feel more comfortable and gives you something familiar on which to focus.
Visualize your shot before you swing. Visualizing a good shot helps you relax and think positively. Include positive visualization in your pre-shot routine.
Take a deep breath and let it out slowly just before you swing. Deep breathing relaxes your muscles and keeps you calm.
Slow your pace to combat extra tension. Tense golfers often try to play too quickly, advises golf great Jack Nicklaus in his book “My 55 Ways to Lower Your Golf Score.” If you’re feeling tense and beginning to think negative thoughts, take a deep breath before you choose your club, take some extra practice swings or use positive visualization to regain your focus.
Establish a game plan before you play so you have something positive to focus on during your round. For example, if you miss an easy putt on the first hole, think about the plan you made for the second hole as you leave the green, rather than dwell on the missed putt.
M.L. Rose has worked as a print and online journalist for more than 20 years. He has contributed to a variety of national and local publications, specializing in sports writing. Rose holds a B.A. in communications.