The Psychology of Golf: Overcoming Mental Blocks as a High Handicapper

Golf. It is becoming more and more popular in the United States. 

These days, there are over 41 million people that play the sport. 

Anyone that has been golfing for a while knows that the sport comes with its ups and downs. One minute, you could feel like you are on top of the world. The next minute, you could feel like you are about to hit rock bottom. 

A golfer has a unique challenge of overcoming mental blocks when things do not go their way. That is because in this sport, there is no direct opponent. 

There is only you and the golf course. As a result, you have to get out of your own head when you are not playing well and focus on the game. 

What can you do for your golf game when you are dealing with a mental block? This guide will give you some tips on how to overcome them. 

Have a Short Memory 

One of the best ways to overcome a mental block in golf is to have a short memory. The idea here is to keep moving forward rather than focus on anything that happened in the past. 

Sometimes, this can be as recent as your previous shot. The goal here is to look forward, look ahead, and not to think about anything but your next shot. 

If you can learn how to do this, it can help you let go of any anger or frustration you may have had from a bad shot. When you do this, it decreases the odds of carrying that anger over to your next shot. 

When you carry that anger into another shot, you are not likely to be 100% focused on that shot. Instead, you can get distracted and it can lead to another bad shot. 

Make sure you have a clear head before going into your next stroke. The best way that you can do that is to have a short memory for recent strokes.

Have a Routine 

The next thing that can help you with overcoming mental blocks in golf is to have something consistent to rely on. In this situation, something consistent that you can do is have a routine before you take your shot. 

These are likely going to be the things you do to set yourself up before taking a shot with your golf club. It can allow you to get in the zone and focus on taking a good shot. On top of this, it allows you to develop muscle memory to the point it is something you can rely on. 

What this will do for you is help get you back into the zone faster after a bad shot. That is because you will likely have less time to think about it while you are focusing on setting up your next stroke. 

Let’s go over a sample routine. For your tee shot, you can determine where you are going to place your tee. Then, you would put your golf ball down on the tee. 

After that, you pick out what club you are going to need. On your tee shot, this is likely going to be your driver. 

Then, you place your hands in a certain part of your golf club. Once you have your hands set, you may set your feet in a certain position. Finally, you may relax your arms, swing them back, and take your shot. 

Your routine does not have to match this exactly. However, it is important that you do have some sort of routine to help you pull through mental blocks faster. 

Do Not Panic 

We talked about what happens when you hit a bad shot above. You may get angry and you may have a hard time taking your focus off of that last shot. 

Well, what happens to some golfers in this situation is that anger turns into panic. When that anger turns into panic, a golfer may try to overcompensate for a bad shot. 

In that situation, a golfer could get aggressive and try to play themselves out of a bad shot. However, the catch with this is that aggressive shots tend to be a lot more risky. 

You could get caught up thinking about trying to get a bad shot back too quickly. If you get too desperate to do this, you could end up going for a shot that is too aggressive to be worth its while. 

As a result, you may hit an additional bad shot and be in a situation that is twice as bad as before. Staying calm and not panicking helps keep you from making a mountain out of a molehill. 

Clear Your Head 

Something that can easily happen to golfers is that they can get stuck in their own head. You can get stuck thinking about too many things at one time. When that happens, you can get overwhelmed and lose focus on your next shot. 

Ideally, you want to be thinking about as little as possible when you are taking a golf shot. You want to just focus on the ball, your shot, and what is in front of you. 

If you do this correctly, you can actually create a very calming environment. 

Sometimes, the best thing that you can do is block everything out except the task at hand. In this case, it is the next stroke that you have.

This can theoretically help your entire body relax when you are taking a shot. When that happens, you are more likely to have a smooth shot. 

Find Your Happy Place 

Going off of clearing your head, you want to be relaxed as possible when you are playing golf. The problem is that this is not always easy to do. This is especially the case when there is a lot of noise around you. 

That can happen when you are playing in a golf tournament. It can also happen if you are playing with annoying members in your group, nosy neighbors to the golf course, when you are close to a public setting, and more. 

The point is that there can be a lot of opportunities to get distracted if you are in the wrong environment. You need a course of action when you get into this situation. 

Here, the best thing you can do is try to picture a happy place. Ideally, this would be a calm and relaxing environment where you do not have a care in the world. You just feel at peace (remember Happy Gilmore?).


Think of this as a form of meditation. When you do this, it can improve anxiety levels 60% of the time

Once anxiety is reduced, stress can go down along with it. When that happens, the result is what was described above. The body gets relaxed to the point where you can have a naturally smooth swing without distractions. 

Finding a happy place can also help you have a more healthy attitude with the way you think about golf. You can associate it with a healthy thought rather than something that makes you stressed out. 

Trust Yourself 

Finally, you need to have some more confidence and trust in yourself. This tends to be a big reason why golfers pivot from their routine and get overwhelmed by their own thoughts. 

You need to trust that you are doing the right thing and doing the right routine. When you have that trust, you need to stick with what got you here. 

Did you do the proper research on what golf clubs you should use in certain situations? Do you work with a trainer to get tips on your golf game? Are you confident that you have the right approach to your shots most of the time? 

If you answered yes to these questions, then there should be no reason why you should not trust yourself to stick with what got you here. In other words, you need to avoid pivoting when things go wrong. 

Avoid Mental Blocks in Golf 

These are some of the best ways that you can overcome mental blocks when you are playing golf. Remember, golf is not a game that has a direct opponent. Instead, your mentality can be your biggest opponent. 

You need to relax as much as possible and have some trust in yourself. On top of this, make sure you have a short memory while playing golf and develop a good routine before each stroke. 

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