Handling Stress in Golf


How do you play in golf competitions? Does your game stay as free as in rounds with your friends? I’m guessing not. Do you ever play poorly in competitions and head straight for the driving range only to find that you hitting it fine. Or do you hit it fine on the range before a competition and then lose your swing when it matters? Do you then scratch your head and not know where to look for the answers? Well I think you should look inside yourself for the answers. My name is Jon Adler and I am work in the field of golf psychology.


Whenever the golf you’re playing matters more than a casual round, you will have some nervous tension, first in your thoughts, then in your body. Thoughts such as “I need to get off to a good start” or “don’t blow it”.

 In response to these thoughts, your body gets tense. Maybe not a lot. Maybe it’s so little that you are unaware of it and it’s this that leaves you scratching your head wondering why you cannot swing the golf club the same way as you did on the range earlier. So what creates this tension that can ruin your game?

Thoughts. Thoughts from your Ego about wanting to look good, not wanting to mess up, keeping out of trouble, not blowing up, not three putting and so on.

Here is a simple golf mental game tip. When you really want to play well it is easy to forget that you play your best when you are relaxed and prepared to go for your shots and enjoy yourself. When you obsess over the score some of the enjoyment goes.

So how do you break this stranglehold the Ego’s thoughts can have over you?

You can be as positive as you like, if you are unaware of the tension then it will control your game.

So the best way to lose the tension is to pay more attention to it. The opposite of what you would imagine.

Pay attention to the tension in your swing or stroke. Be more aware of what you are experiencing, even the Ego’s worrisome thoughts. Do these thoughts affect you? Are you being more defensive or tensing up? Maybe just a little bit?

Set a clear intention for every shot and do your best to execute. Do not waste energy trying to get rid of the tension.

Remember what I said about winning. In order to win you have to be prepared to raise the bar but also you must be prepared to lower the floor.

By that I mean that you must be willing to shoot a high score in order for you to shoot a low score. Accept the possibility of playing poorly to enable yourself to be free enough to play well.


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