Take a deep breath. We’re going to discuss the keys to handling pressure on the golf course.
Whether it’s first-tee butterflies, an attack of nerves when facing a shot over water, or a queasy feeling as you stand over a 3-foot putt, no golfer is immune to pressure. Experience is the most effective antidote, but trial-and-error is a never-ending process. There are several methods for dealing with stress that you can use here and now. Develop a consistent approach to anxious moments and adjust as your experience grows.
- Follow a standard pre-shot routine:The process you go through before hitting a shot should be the same every single time. This will not only aid consistency, it will give you something to focus on besides whatever external factors are causing you to feel pressure in a given moment.
- Use a process vs. outcome approach: This goes hand-in-hand with your pre-shot routine. Rather than worrying about what will happen once you’ve hit the ball, concentrate only on the aspects you can control – picking a club, aiming at the target and swinging. Focus intently on following your normal sequence and the result will take care of itself.
- Proceed slowly: The most common physical manifestation of anxiousness is a quickened pace. Be aware of how fast you’re walking, talking and setting up shots, and make a conscious effort to be slightly deliberate. This will keep your thoughts from racing ahead to the outcome and prevent your tempo from getting dangerously quick.
- Practice positive visualization: As part of your pre-shot routine, always picture an image of the ball flying or rolling to your target exactly as you want it to. If the shot calls for a fade, visualize the ball’s flight precisely as you plan to hit it. Banish negative images or thoughts -- like the ball splashing into a water hazard or onlookers snickering at your topped tee shot – the instant they arise.
Once you’ve had success in a pressure situation or two, you’ll own positive images and feelings to fall back on in future rounds. You may even come to relish being under the gun.