An 18-hole round of golf is more like a marathon than a sprint. Every time you play, you'll encounter a stretch of shots or holes where nothing goes right and your score heads south. Don't let it take your mind with it.

Because in-round slumps can't be completely eliminated, the key is to limit their length and damage. Doing this means recognizing how you typically deal with on-course adversity.

Some players get angry, throw clubs and become so flustered they can barely see straight. Others head in the opposite direction, digging a deeper hole as they grow more and more dejected. In between these extremes lie emotionally neutral, analytical types, who remain poised while trying to figure out what's wrong with their swings.

Hotheads and gloomy Gusses have the hardest time halting a sudden slide. Studious detachment has its downside, too. Let's explore ways each personality type can better handle lapses on the golf course.

The Hothead

Deep breath. OK, let's put things in perspective. You're playing golf here, not chasing criminals or trading billions of dollars in stock. Nothing that happens on the course will seriously affect your life, let alone anyone else's.

How to Turn the Tide on a Bad Round, Golf Tip

When you feel your temper start to rise, pause and take that big breath. Acknowledge the absurdity of getting so worked up over a silly game. Laugh at yourself, even if it's on the inside. Wiggle your fingers, lightly shake your arms and gently rotate your neck to release tension.

Feel better? Good. Now forget your last slice or shank and focus on the next shot with a clear mind. If you slice it again, so what? It's not like you lost a million bucks on a bad trade. Besides, even the best golfers have bad holes – bad days, too.

Here's an article offering more tips for the temperamental golfer: Control Your Emotions, Control Your Game

The Gloomy Gus

So you chunked one into the lake and sculled your next shot over the green. Guess what? It doesn't make you a bad person. It just means you're about to make a triple-bogey.

Like Mr. Hothead, our Gloomy Gus must find proper perspective when his golf game sours. Instead of calming down, however, his way out requires perking up.

Lift your chin and drink in the beauty of your surroundings. Pretty nice, huh? Do a few jumping jacks or walk briskly to your ball to get the blood pumping. Now think about your most recent good shot, or the best shot you've ever hit on the hole you're playing. Close your eyes and visualize repeating it this time. Then make it happen.

The Professor

Rational types have the best chance of cutting a bad spell short. Being even-keeled, they're less susceptible to swing-killing tension or debilitating despair. Problem is, they often over-think and fall prey to “paralysis by analysis.”

There's nothing wrong with breaking down your bad swings in search of an answer. But one faulty fix usually leads to another, sending you further down the rabbit hole. Before long, you've got three, four or 10 swing thoughts in your head and you can't even draw the club back.

Instead of endlessly chasing a technical solution, try the most basic approach in golf: “See ball, hit ball.” It's as simple as it sounds. Banish all thoughts about the swing itself, focus on the back of the ball, and hit it.

There's no guarantee you'll like the results. But “see ball, hit ball” has remarkable swing-freeing powers that may well arrest your skid.

One final note that applies to all golfer types: Consider walking the course instead of riding a cart. When the inevitable bad spell strikes, the time and energy spent walking between shots helps Mr. Hothead calm down, helps Gloomy Gus cheer up, and gives The Professor a chance to sort through his thoughts.

How to Turn the Tide on a Bad Round

How to Turn the Tide on a Bad Round

When you head out to the course for a round on a busy Saturday morning, you will likely find the driving range filled with golfers getting ready to play. Most golfers like to at least hit a few balls before they head to the first tee, just to get warmed up and find a rhythm for their swing. At this point, nearly every golfer on the range has the same goal for their round – to get off to a good start. They want to hit good shots on the first couple holes, hopefully make a couple pars, and hit the ground running for the rest of the day.

Of course, this is desirable for obvious reasons, as you don't want to waste shots right at the start of your round. But what if you don't get off to a good start? What if you play poorly on the first couple holes, even after a great warmup? This is going to happen from time to time, unfortunately. No matter how focused you might be when you hit the first tee, it is still possible that you'll get off to a poor start. When that happens, you need to know how to turn the tide as quickly as possible.

In this article, we are going to offer some advice on how to turn around a bad round. This is something that challenges the average golfer on a regular basis, and it even gives professionals trouble from time to time. Rather than being about your physical abilities, turning a bad round into a good round is all about your mental toughness. Sure, you might need to make a couple of physical tweaks to get things going – and we will discuss that later – but most of what you need to do is get your mind in the right place.

Once you learn how to turn the tide quickly on a bad round, you will find something interesting – many of your best rounds of golf actually start poorly. Some of the best rounds of golf that have ever been played in the professional game started with a bogey before the player got going and made plenty of birdies the rest of the way. Don't make the mistake of thinking that you are destined to play a poor round just because you got off to a bad start. A great start doesn't guarantee that you are going to play a great round, and the opposite is true as well. Take each hole as an individual challenge and add them all up at the end of the day.

All of the content below is based on a right-handed golfer. If you happen to play left-handed, please take a moment to reverse the directions as necessary.

The Basics

The Basics

Right off the bat, we can identify a few basic tips that you can use to gain control over a bad round. The last thing you want to do is let your bad round spiral out of control to the point where you have played several poor holes in a row. At that point, it might be too late to save a decent score for the day, despite your best efforts. So what can you do to 'right the ship' when things aren't going your way? Give these simple tips a try.

  • Slow yourself down. It is easy to fall into the trap of doing everything too quickly when you aren't playing well. You are probably frustrated with your poor play, and the body's natural reaction to frustration and anger is to speed up. Of course, as you already know, speeding up is certainly not going to help you play better golf. Between holes, or even between shots if possible, take a moment to take a few deep breaths and slow yourself down. This can have a powerful effect on the way you play your next shot. Just by taking time to calm down and refocus on the task at hand, you might be able to bring your game back into shape without taking any other action.
  • Use a conservative game plan. This is one of the best steps you can take to get things back on track, yet few golfers ever are willing to make this adjustment. When you are playing poorly, you might be tempted to hit more aggressive shots in order to make up for the mistakes which are already reflected on your card. This is the opposite of what you should be doing, however. When a round is going poorly, the correct response is to make your game plan more conservative in order to keep the ball in play and make it through some holes without any major damage. You obviously don't have your best game at the moment, so playing aggressively is only going to lead to trouble. Use less club off the tee, aim for more conservative targets, and do your best to make a par or two. If you notice that your game starts to come around after a couple of conservative holes, you might have the necessary confidence and rhythm to play more aggressively once again.
  • Avoid the temptation to change. A common mistake golfers make when they get off to a bad start is to quickly change their swing technique. In the moment, it seems like this decision would make sense – if your current swing isn't working, why not try something else? This is faulty logic, however. Assuming you usually play at a higher level than you are on this day, there is no reason to think something is broken within your swing. After all, that same swing has produced many good rounds in the past. So, the best bet is to stick with your technique and ride out this wave of poor play. Even professional golfers struggle from time to time, and they have highly refined swing techniques. If you make dramatic changes to your swing after a few poor holes, you will forever be searching for the right way to swing the club.
  • Lean on your short game. The fastest way to get out of trouble during a bad round is to play well in the short game. If you just aren't 'feeling it' with your full swing for one reason or another, focus intently on doing your best in the short game. Some golfers will actually give up a bit with regard to the short game during a bad round, thinking it doesn't matter since they aren't playing well anyway. Nothing could be further from the truth. When your full swing is not holding up its end of the bargain, it is the job of the short game to come to the rescue. Focus on hitting quality chip shots and solid putts – you might be surprised to find that you can still find your way to a decent score through nothing more than some great short game play.

Each of the points listed above should be considered basics with regard to the challenge of turning around a bad day on the course. As you gain more and more experience playing golf, you will find that these tips come naturally. For instance, when you feel yourself struggling, you might automatically start to pick safer targets as a way to keep your ball in play. Over the long run, your average score will come down if you can get better and better at making the best out of a bad round.

It's All About Your Attitude

It's All About Your Attitude

Let's get this out of the way right from the start – it's hard to have a good attitude on the course when you are playing poorly. We are going to talk about why it is important to stay positive, but you should note that we know it isn't easy. You're going to feel frustrated, and you might even want to just give up for the day instead of pushing through to finish the round with the best possible score. Of course, just because something is difficult doesn't mean that you should give up. In fact, if you don't like difficult challenges, golf isn't the game for you.

To turn the tide on a bad round, the best ally you can have is a positive attitude. Instead of letting your negative mindset drag you further into poor play, you need to use your mind as a tool to get you back on track. This is easier said than done, but it is possible. To help you put the power of positive thinking on your side, we have identified some tips below.

  • Remember positive experiences. One of the simple steps you can take is to think back to some of your better rounds in the past. Remember great shots you hit, or good scores you recorded on difficult courses. It shouldn't be hard to dig up these memories, as most golfers are able to easily recall their best shots and their best rounds. You badly need a boost of confidence when you are in the middle of a poor round, and turning to positive memories can help to provide exactly that. Take a moment while someone else in your group is playing a shot to think back to a better round, then use that memory to provide some motivation and positivity for your next shot.
  • Look at the scorecard. Let's imagine for a second that you have played five holes of your current round, and you are off to a bad start. You have yet to make a par, and you have had a couple of terrible holes where you wasted several strokes. To say the least, things aren't going well. To keep your mind in a good place, take a moment to look at the scorecard. However, you aren't going to look at the holes you have already played – you are going to look ahead at what's to come. Assuming you are playing 18 holes, there are still 13 of them left on which you can play well. Some of those are probably par fives, which usually represent scoring opportunities. Imagine all of the great shots you could hit over those final 13 holes if you just keep a positive attitude and give your best effort.
  • Get competitive. Sometimes, the only thing you need to keep yourself motivated is a little competitive edge. Do you want to lose badly to the other players in your group? Probably not. Even if you can't recover all the way to beat them for the day, do your best to keep the scores as close as possible. It doesn't matter if you are playing for anything of value, this is all about pride and working hard to keep up with the other players around you.

A good attitude is important in golf, and that is certainly true when you get off to a bad start and need to turn things around quickly. You aren't going to get back on track unless you see things in a positive light, so do your best to think optimistically and avoid getting down on yourself. There will be time after the round to figure out why your game went wrong and what you can do to fix it – for now, the best thing you can do is be positive and enjoy the day.