A few years ago the New York Times ran a story about a man who hit another golfer in the head with a 6-iron. As an athlete, you’re trained to take your game seriously, so when you miss a key shot, it’s easy to get annoyed, irritable and frustrated. Although you may never resort to physical violence, losing your cool and mental edge can dramatically impair your performance—especially when you start making bad shots or fall behind players who are not as skilled as you are.
The psychology of golf is tricky, almost to the point where anger management should be a prerequisite to play. Golf lessons won’t help when the game is underway. So, what can a golfer do to make sure he or she doesn’t go completely off the rails when the game goes bad?
Here are three tips for managing stress to avoid losing your cool on the golf course.
Know that not every shot, every hole or every game is going to go well. We all have good days and bad days. Don’t let a bad day give you license to behave badly.
Put things in perspective
Remember, one or two bad shots do not define a game. Refocus on making the next shot better.
Abandon useless beliefs
We all tell ourselves how much of a loser we are or how stupid we are when we make mistakes. But this kind of self-talk can damage our self-esteem and lead us on a path of negative thinking. Instead, remind yourself that you can make good shots and that you are a good player. Negative thoughts lead to negative behavior, but the opposite is also true.
Learn more about controlling your emotions during a round of golf through STACK’s Sport Psych Guide.