If you have played one round of golf, you know how difficult and mentally taxing the game can be.
My favorite question from students, “Is the game more mental or physical?” My answer, equally both parts. You might have the most beautiful swing and technique in the world, but if you fold under pressure or struggle to think your way around a golf course, you won’t succeed. The same goes for the mental side, you might have a fortress between your ears and have ice water in your veins, but if you don’t know how to swing the club, you will not succeed.
The next time you play golf I want you to play a game within the game. Add up every single negative thought that comes into your head. If the total shocks you, do not be surprised. Then think about how many good shots you hit when you were mad. Did you make any birdies when you were angry? Did you get up and down when you were frustrated?
The difference between most of you and the Tour players you see on TV is that they do not keep track of all the great shots they execute within a round. You might see a fist pump here and there to get them going, but they most importantly do not compound mistakes. The easiest way to put this is that you rarely see them make bogey after bogey. They know how to let shots go mentally and move on to the next shot to try and rebound from the previous poor shot.
In today’s age, there is a statistic for everything, including what we are talking about, it is called the bounce back percentage. This statistic accounts for the percentage of time a player is over par on a hole and then under par on the following hole. As of July 22, Dustin Johnson and Bubba Watson are the top two in this category at about thirty percent. Just under a third of the time that these two are over par on a hole, they immediately follow it up with a birdie on the next hole. This shows you how quickly they get over their frustration and get back into a positive state of mind.
Remember, we are all human and bound to hit errant shots no matter how well we might be playing. The biggest key to playing your best golf is to keep that positive state of mind. In my opinion, laughter is the best way of achieving this mental state but everyone is different, which is also what makes this game so special. You have to find your own way of settling yourself down when things go array in order to truly succeed in this game.
Evan is a first year Assistant PGA Professional at The Island Country Club on Marco Island. Evan is a graduate of the Florida Gulf Coast University Professional Golf Management Program in Fort Myers, Florida.