Golf is, in many ways, much more a mental sport than a physical one. Hitting a ball on the range and hitting a ball on the course are two very different things. A common complaint of many players, both old and new, is that they can’t replicate their form on the range. While hitting hundreds of balls on the range is great for improving your club control, it does very little for your mental game. The added pressure of only having one shot, playing in front of others, and the dreaded first tee in front of the clubhouse can easily knock a player’s confidence, resulting in high scores and lots of frustration. In this post, we will look at 4 ways to improve your mental game.

Consistent Practice

The most effective way to improve your mental game and confidence on the fairways is through consistent practice. Most beginner golfers will spend a considerable amount of time on the range in order to get good enough to play on a course. Once they reach that stage, it is common for golfers to spend less and less time honing their skills. While this means more time spent on the fairways, which is where every golfer wants to be, it can also lead to a plateau. In order to get your scores down, you need to improve through consistent practice, either on your own or with a coach. If you are serious about improving your mental game, you should practice at least 2-3 times per week and book a session with a pro to iron out any bad habits. A lack of confidence on the golf course usually comes from not being able to hit the right shot, and the more you practice, the better you will be.

Develop a Pre-Shot Routine

While practicing with their different clubs is why most people go to the range, it also pays to develop a pre-shot routine. A pre-shot routine will physically and mentally prepare you for every shot and will effectively act as a way to reset yourself after playing a bad shot. Most amateurs struggle with letting a bad shot affect their next attempts, which leads to them struggling to get back into a good rhythm and mindset and ultimately landing high scores. Your pre-shot routine will be unique to you, but some effective routines used by the best golfers in the world include visualizing a shot before you hit it, taking a few practice swings to get the feel of the shot you want to be playing, and deep breathing to calm your mind. Once you develop a routine you feel happy with, incorporate it into your time at the driving range so it becomes a habit. A good drill to incorporate your pre-shot routine is to hit one good shot with every club in your bag, starting again if you mishit. This will replicate the mental pressure of being on a golf course and allow you to use your routine to prepare for every shot.

Play Virtual Courses on Your Own

This one is slightly cheating, as you will be hitting balls on a virtual fairway. However, indoor golf is one of the most efficient ways to improve your mental golf when playing with friends on an actual course. Playing a virtual course on your own is one of the best ways to improve your mental game. Using a virtual sim, you can control the conditions and choose a course that is suited to your playing level. For example, if you are a beginner player or have never stepped on a golf course before, playing a par 3 course, usually between 75 and 200 yards, will only require your short irons, wedges, and putter to complete the course. This makes them much easier to play than attempting the Old Course at St Andrews or Pebble Beach and will boost your confidence when you transition to a full-size course. Playing a virtual course on your own will also remove the pressure of playing in front of other players, and if you want, you can replay any terrible shots if you choose or even replay entire holes with a new strategy.

Have the Right Attitude and Enjoy Your Golf Off the Fairways

Golf can be a frustrating and mentally taxing sport. It doesn’t take much to start playing badly, and even the best players have been known to choke at tournaments. This is where the right attitude comes into play. Having a good attitude off the fairways will help you have a good attitude on the actual course. Rather than focus on the negativities, concentrate on your good shots and the fact that you are out improving your game. If you are frustrated with every practice session and don’t see much improvement, you will likely transfer that negative attitude to the course, which in turn will affect your mental game and score. Above everything else, golf is meant to be enjoyed.

Players often struggle with the mental game of golf but don’t train to improve. By following the above tips, you will be able to better control your emotions and lower your scores.