How to cope with pressure on the golf course

Published 03/05/2010 08:09:43

To play well when it matters the most you will need to take control of your emotions. Preventing nervous tension from causing a jerky swing and remaining focused and calm at all times are so important that the majority of top golf pros work with a sports psychologist.

Your mind can be your most powerful tool if you know how to use it...


Playing over water

The prospect of hitting your golf ball over a lake is an intimidating one that requires a positive and fully committed swing. In this situation, you must attack with conviction or else risk producing a nervous, tentative swing.

It might sound strange but it is a good idea to play with one less club than usual in this situation. Why? Well this forces you into making an aggressive swing and not quitting on the shot. Though of course this too risks the quality of the strike, but the increased aggression should get you over the drink.


Picking your target

An excellent technique that helps you improve your accuracy is to aim at a very small target. Pick a distinctive feature on the horizon - such as a building, the top of a tree or a post - and picture an imaginary line between this spot and your ball. Then as you set up for the shot, pick a mark on this line just in front of your ball.

As you prepare to strike the shot, aim to hit your ball over this mark. By narrowing your aim as much as possible your accuracy is guaranteed to improve.


Pre-shot routine

There are certain techniques that you can use to help you feel comfortable and confident when competing. The most common of these is to have a pre-shot routine, that is to undertake a series of actions that allow you to focus positively on the shot in hand and prepare for a fluid swing.

By running the the following actions before hitting the ball, you will enter a comfort zone - a type of auto-pilot that helps you focus on a positive result. If you run through the same set of actions before every long-game shot, you should start to feel far more comfortable under pressure.


Step one:  After teeing up your ball, stand back and look at the hole ahead. Visualise the ideal shot, how you expect the ball to shape through the air and where you want it to land. Make a couple of practice swing, rehearsing for the sort of swing that you are looking to deliver.

Step two: Just before addressing the ball, relax yourself by taking three deep breaths. Now take your stance, ensuring that your body and clubface are perfectly alighned. Breathe out through the downswing.


Hopefully armed with these hints you will be able to cope with almost anything on the golf course - except maybe Augusta or Birkdale! If you like these tips, try subscribing to our RSS feed or follow us on Twitter.


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