Mind Power

Apply my Five Cs for competitive golf and bring some mental power to your game

IF YOU DON'T THINK professional golfers play under considerable pressure, then you may not have seen this year’s major championships.

Twice this year, at the U.S. Open and the PGA Championship, the third-round leaders (Dustin Johnson and Nick Watney, respectively) fell victim to the incredible pressure and ballooned to final rounds in the 80s. With all eyes on them, these two young promising players struggled mightily under enormous pressure. It was tough to watch them collapse, and something all too familiar to the average golfer. Both players unraveled early, and unfortunately, once the dam started to crack, it burst apart under the weight of pressure. They both eventually regrouped, but the damage was irreparable.

Why does this happen? And, more to the point, exactly what happened and how can you avoid a similar fate when the pressure is on you?

First, it’s important to know that your thoughts and emotions directly impact how you perform, so you have to be aware of how your mind reacts to challenging circumstances. You have to be mentally tough, so you can bounce back after a bad hole, poor shot, bad bounce or disappointing round. Your mind is your most important piece of golf equipment, and, after watching how bravely Dustin Johnson fought his way back to contend at this year’s PGA, I was happy to see that he recovered so well from his disappointing U.S. Open finish.

To help you become a mentally tough golfer, I’ve devised what I call the “Five Cs for Competitive Golf.” By learning the Five Cs, any golfer, regardless of his or her skill level, will strengthen mind power. Read on, and get tough.

All too often, when golfers feel pressure on the course, their minds race, and they start to think about all the wrong things: their swing, bad shots that may have happened in the past, potential future mis-hits, the list goes on and on. This cycle of negative thinking creates the kind of doubt, indecision and/or lack of confidence that leads to poor shots. It’s a self-fulfilling prophecy. Thinking about bad outcomes produces them.

To steer away from all the negativity and keep your game on track, you have to commit fully to each and every golf shot, regardless of how straightforward one may seem. Sounds easy, but how do you do that? Well, first you have to know what types of shots you’re capable of pulling off and if you can do that on the shot you’re faced with. From there, narrow your possible swing choices (fade, draw, etc.) to only one, so that you feel confident in your ability to hit that shot. To help boost your confidence, either visualize a well-struck shot that you’ve hit before or picture your present one landing exactly where you want it. Then home in on your target, keeping a clear image of it in your head as you swing and knock it stiff.


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