The Mental Game

How to manage the mental hazards in golf,
Mental Approach to Better Golf

by Catherine Marien

Photo by Dave Kahn
Photo by Dave Kahn


Golf is surely one of those sports where the psychology of the game and the importance of confidence and mental toughness are most underestimated.

Golf guru Jim Flick says that golf is 90 percent mental, and the other 10 percent… is mental.


The mental preparation of golf will help you to stay calm, clear the interference that leads to poor shots, and eliminate bad habits and mental mistakes. In short, turn your mind into an ally, instead of an enemy. Many players carry the negative emotions tied to a bad drive or missed putt to the next hole, or worse, for the rest of the entire round! Other players feel negative thoughts entering their mind when they stand over the ball, while none existed before, and without knowing how to manage these. Again others feel their self-confidence sink into their very golf shoes because they are being influenced by other people’s shots.

As Timothy Gallway, the author of The Game of Golf puts it: “Even the masters of the game, from the venerable Jack Nicklaus to the wunderkind Tiger Woods, must battle their mental demons to excel in the crucible of competition. How do they maintain concentration under pressure? How do they avoid the mental and physical tensions that can sabotage any shot, from the simplest putt to a demanding drive?”

Mental techniques will help you not only to prepare your game, but also assist you during the execution phase and teach you how to respond to the results of any golf shot. The psychology of golf entails instant recall of past successes and being able to quickly purge failures.

Important areas to analyse and train are: how to keep your focus and concentration during a round of golf, how to keep your motivation when you only enjoy the game part of the time, how to avoid being influenced by other people’s swings, how to transfer the self-assurance and confidence you feel on the practice tee to the golf course, how to reach emotional stability, tough-mindedness, what is tension management, etc.

In The 8 Traits of Champion Golfers, author Deborah Graham discusses why each of the following traits is important to the game of golf:

– Focus and Concentration
– Abstract Thinking
– Emotional Stability
– Dominance and Competitiveness
– Tough-Mindedness
– Self-Assurance
– Self-Sufficiency
– Optimum Arousal and Managing Tension

You’ll find more about these topics in the books we have selected and the following Golf psychology books >> Some books, such as The 8 Traits of Champion Golfers and Golf’s Mental Hazards provide self tests, quizzes and playing tips, making it possible for every golfer to play with the mind of a champion.