Confidence isn’t something that you can physically see on the golf course. While it is pretty easy to observe another player to see how well they’re swinging the club, it’s basically impossible to see how their confidence is doing.
Despite its “invisible” nature, having the right amount of confidence is one of the most important parts of great performance on the course. If you’re going to shoot the best rounds of your life, you’ll have to have plenty of confidence along for the ride.
But if you need confidence to play well, how do you get it in the first place?
Doesn’t confidence come from playing well?
It’s truly something of a “chicken or the egg” situation. You need confidence to play good golf, but confidence largely comes as a byproduct of those good rounds.
It is easy to see how this can be a problem. Stuck in a cycle of poor performance and low confidence, many golfers are never able to break through to a higher level of play.
Skeptics fear not, because it is possible to work your way into a higher level of confidence, but it’s going to take plenty of practice—and a dose of self-belief as well.
1. Remember that You Are a Good Golfer
Do you think of yourself as a good golfer? If the answer to that question is “no,” you’re already facing an uphill battle when you head to the first tee.
While you can be realistic about your capabilities, you also need to believe in yourself at all times. If you don’t think you are capable of playing good golf, you are going to prove yourself right time and time again.
One way to find some self-belief that you can take with you to the course is to think about other areas of your life where you have improved at a skill. Think back on your experiences and pinpoint a time in your life where you took on a challenge and were successful. Even if that challenge has nothing to do with golf, or sports in general, it is still an example of your ability to rise to the occasion.
Improving at golf is just like improving at anything else, it requires hard work and a plan. Draw on your past life experiences to give yourself the belief you need to play better golf.
2. Make the Practice Tee Your Best Friend
Spending time on the driving range is great for a variety of reasons. Obviously, you can work on your swing technique to correct any mechanical errors that are giving you problems on the course, however, the driving range might be even more useful when it comes to building confidence.
On the range, you can hit shot after shot without the pressure of playing a round of golf. As you improve your swing and start to see better results on the range, your confidence will grow naturally. Pretty soon, you will find yourself expecting to hit great shots on the course just as you have been doing on the range.
If you are struggling with a lack of confidence at the moment, head to the range as often as possible. You aren’t going to feel better about your game by sitting on the couch, so get to the range and hit some balls.
Work on specific parts of your swing, and take note of any improvements that you are able to make. Even small improvements will go a long way toward giving you a better attitude toward your game.
3. Make It Easy
Golf is a hard game, but you already know that! Unfortunately, many golfers make it even harder than it needs to be by making tee times at difficult courses and then choosing to play the back tees.
To develop your confidence successfully, first try finding an “easy” course near your home. Once you arrive for your round, play the short tees to make the course even easier. The combination of short tees and an easy course should make it all but assured that you shoot a good score for the day. Regardless of how easy the course may have been, seeing a good score on your card at the end of the round is going to do great things for your confidence. As you begin to feel better about your game, you can head back to the harder courses with a renewed sense of belief that you will be able to handle the challenges in front of you.
4. Enter a Tournament
Most golfers who are lacking confidence will stay as far away from tournaments as possible—this is exactly the wrong approach to take.
If you would like to build some confidence in your game, enter a tournament at your local club and put yourself to the test. Prepare for the tournament as thoroughly as possible, and take the experience seriously. It doesn’t matter how you do on the leaderboard as long as you give it a full effort and play each hole to the best of your ability.
Playing in a tournament is great for your confidence because you are bound to have at least a couple good moments throughout the event. Even if you shoot poor scores in the end, you can think back to those great shots you hit when the pressure was on.
Returning to your regular weekend round with your friends will seem like an easy task after testing yourself in a competition. You will learn a lot about your game during tournament conditions, and that information can go a long way toward propelling your game forward.
5. Keep a Record of What Went Well
Golfers in general have an uncanny ability to remember everything that went poorly with their round. Often we’ll dwell on bad shots that left us “just short” of our goal for days. The question however is why don’t golfers spend more time reflection on the good parts of their round?
As we just mentioned, it is rarely difficult to think of at least one or two things that went well during a round of golf. Perhaps it was a chip that set you up for a nice up and down, or maybe a drive that split the fairway (even if it was the only one that day!). The key however is to not let those good shots (and moments) pass you by unnoticed.
A good piece of advice here is to keep a “what went well journal.” The practice itself is actually quite simple. All you need to do is take five minutes after each round and jot down a couple of things that went well during your round. You’ll be surprised how much putting pen to paper will help to change your mindset and boost your confidence.
By journalist your positive accomplishments on the course you will send new signals to your subconscious about the better parts of your game, which over time will lead to more confidence. Additionally, if you keep this practice up you’ll be creating a nice record to look back to for an added confidence boost any time you find yourself really struggling.
Now Get Our There and Give it a Try
There is no denying that confidence is a tricky thing. Every golfer knows that it’s important, but most have no idea where to find it.
If you follow the tips above, you will be able to develop some confidence in your own game—even if it comes slowly at first. Once you start to move in the right direction, you should be able to build on each new experience until your confidence is rapidly expanding each time you step to the tee.
Recommended Further Reading
Looking to explore the process of building more confidence in your golf game even further? If so, check out these staff recommended books to give your mental game an added boost:
- Golf is a Game of Confidence by Dr. Bob Rotella
- Dave Pelz’ Golf without Fear by Dave Pelz
- Golf Tough by Dan Abrahams
Cover Photo by Simon on Flickr