How to Stop Negativity from Holding Your Golf Game Back

Golficity Golf Instruction, Mental Game Leave a Comment


The level of negativity in the game of golf is something that is often taken for granted. Think about it for a moment – when was the last time you said something good about your golf game, or heard someone else say something good about theirs?

It’s probably been a while.

Golfers are far more likely to bemoan something that goes wrong than they are to celebrate something that goes right. It’s just the culture of the game as it exists today.

And this is a problem.

While there really isn’t anything wrong with poking some fun at yourself on the course – or teasing your buddies when they hit a poor shot – you do need to be careful to keep this under control in order to protect your confidence.

Postcard illustration featuring a frustrated golfer, published circa…

Postcard illustration featuring a frustrated golfer, published circa 1904. Get premium, high resolution news photos at Getty Images

If you are constantly highlighting your shortcomings on the course, you may soon believe that you really are as bad as you are saying. Confidence is an important thing in golf and talking to yourself in a positive manner can go a long way toward building your belief.

With this article, we would like to help you stay more positive on the course.

It’s not going to be easy – as we’ve established already, you are likely to be surrounded by negativity when you play.

But, if you are willing to be a little different than the rest, and you are willing to focus on the task at hand, you can turn your thinking around – and you may turn your game around in the process.

Compliment Yourself 18 Times per Round

This first suggestion has to do with being intentional about the compliments you pay to yourself during the course of a round.

We are going to suggest that you do your best to compliment yourself one time per hole – for a total of 18 times over the course of a day. You may find it most convenient to do this after each hole, as you are walking or riding to the next tee.

Let’s walk through an example. Imagine that you have just made a double bogey on a par four. Most likely, you aren’t very happy with that outcome. You hit a poor tee shot, were unable to get on the green with your second, chipped your third onto the putting surface, and three putted. You have to write down a six on the card, and you probably don’t feel great about your game.

However, as you walk to the next tee looking for a compliment to pay yourself, you realize that the chip shot you hit up onto the green was a pretty good one. You were in a tricky spot, didn’t have a very good lie, and still manage to chip onto the green. Sure, you three putted in the end, but that shouldn’t take away from the quality of the chip.

By highlighting this and using it as your compliment, you’ll have something positive to take away and use later in the round.

Don’t Be Unrealistic

One of the problems amateur golfers tend to encounter on the mental side of the game is the issue of expecting too much. Maybe you watched golf all day on a Sunday, and then you went out and teed it up with your friends on Monday.

Are you going to play up to the level of what you saw on TV? Probably not – and that’s okay. The only standard you should hold yourself to is your own.

Remember, you aren’t going to set a new personal best score during every round. Some rounds don’t go the way you had hoped, while others go beautifully.

Sang-Moon Bae of South Korea hits his second shot on the 18th hole…

Sang-Moon Bae of South Korea hits his second shot on the 18th hole during the first round of THE PLAYERS Championship on The Stadium Course at TPC Sawgrass on May 8, 2014 in Ponte Vedra Beach,… Get premium, high resolution news photos at Getty Images

If you let a rough round chip away at your confidence, your thinking will become negative and you might find yourself in a slump that lasts for several more rounds.

Don’t let yourself fall into that kind of spiral. Keep your expectations in check and continue to work toward your goals.

The Power of One or Two Shots

It is easy for one or two poor shots to rob you of many other accomplishments during the course of a round.

For example, let’s say that you are a player who strives to break 80 during your rounds. You’ve done it a few times before, but it isn’t exactly a regular occurrence. During your last round, you played well for most of the day and had a great chance to shoot a 78 or 79. Unfortunately, you three-putted each of the last two holes, missing short putts on both. The scorecard read 80 as a result, and you came away frustrated.

While it is understandable, frustration is the wrong emotion here. Instead, you should be excited.

You played well enough to reach your goal, and only a small mistake stood in your way. Instead of hanging your head, simply spend some time working on your short putting so this kind of thing doesn’t happen again.

Don’t let a single mistake, or a couple mistakes, take away from what should be a positive experience overall.

Surround Yourself With the Right People

Surrounding yourself with the right people will play a role in maintaining a more positive attitude on the course.

You don’t necessarily need to dump your entire golf group just because they tend to be negative, but do explain your position and how you are trying to get better by having an improved perspective. Hopefully, they will understand where you are coming from, and they may even want to join you in this pursuit.

Jack Nicklaus of the U.S. team and Gary Player of the International…

Jack Nicklaus of the U.S. team and Gary Player of the International team share a laugh on the 1st tee during the round 3 morning foursome matches of The Presidents Cup on September 29 at The Royal… Get premium, high resolution news photos at Getty Images

Negativity is something that tends to bond large numbers of golfers together, but it really isn’t a good thing for anyone’s game.

You will be much better off if you can think about your skills in a positive manner, highlighting your strengths and committing to improve your weaknesses. This is a hard enough game as it is, you don’t need to make it any harder by assuming the worst about yourself in all situations.

Be positive and play your best!

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