As every player knows, golf is a deceptively challenging sport. It requires an array of skills and players have to adapt to a more or less unique situation every time they stand up to the ball. Even players at the very top who can strike the ball perfectly every time in practice, can so easily underperform in competition.
At club level, how much we enjoy our round can change in the space of a couple of holes. A lost ball, an otherwise perfect iron bunkered, three putts from close range, or simply losing a hole that we really should have won. All are what in CBT we call potential ’triggers’- that can lead to stress. The important thing is how we react to such events. Conversely, if we feel particularly confident or more relaxed, we might enjoy the round more or play better.
The mental side to golf is becoming increasingly recognised. Top players now employ psychologists. Many of them practise meditation or employ other CBT techniques to improve their chance of success- the same techniques that we use in therapy to help someone under stress at home or in the workplace.
Such techniques are not difficult to learn. I like to combine them with some basic breathing practices and other tips to give golfers an assortment of tricks, a toolbox to fall back on when negative thinking kicks in and overcome setbacks when they inevitably arise; or to capitalise on the positive feelings that come from playing well.
My aim is basically for golfers to enjoy the game more, to lower their scores, and ultimately, to improve their health and fitness.
With the lifting of restrictions, I currently offer talks to small groups at golf clubs in Ayrshire and further afield, interested in ‘mastering the mental game’.
Don’t hesitate to contact me if you or your club are interested.