Mastering Your Emotion on the Golf Course

by : Annette Huygens Tholen

Golf is known to be more of a mental game than a physical game. Jim Flick, mentor to Jack Nicklaus, has said "The mindset or attitude you bring to the game determines not only the enjoyment you desire from golf but also the level of proficiency you will achieve."

My name is Annette Huygens-Tholen and I am a Master Results Coach, working on the mindset to help others get the results they want in life. I'll admit I have spent little time on the golf course myself and so I won't be teaching you anything about how to swing the club. What I do know, through my studies, is how a person's thinking can influence their game - both short term in the moment, medium term through a tournament, and long term through one's career.

So if you want to get the most out of your own golf game, it would be worthwhile discovering whether your mindset is helping or hindering your results.

In this article I want to talk about how your thinking and emotional state can influence each shot that you take. Emotional state will influence your actions. Consider how you play when you are calm or in a good mood, compared to how you play when you are anxious or angry. The results are quite different aren't they?

It is important to determine what your optimal emotional state is for playing your very best golf. Think back to a time when you felt unbeatable on the course and that everything seemed to go your way. Step into that time and consider how were you feeling? Were you confident? Fearless? Focussed? Calm? Determined? Relaxed? What is it for you? It can be a combination.

I have been working a young golfer and we went out on the range and discussed how he was feeling prior to each hole. It varied every time depending on external factors such as:

-He'd been hitting the ball well
-He hadn't been hitting the ball well
-He liked the particular hole
-He was warmed up now
-This hole suited his fade

They were all reasons determining how he was going to approach the tee shot. Perhaps you can relate to this.

When you want to get the best result at every hole in every game then it's time to DECIDE how you are going to show up for that hole. Get rid of meanings or excuses for how you are feeling - that is, be proactive rather than reactive. Decide how you are going to show up for each shot and put yourself into that state. That is the state we determined earlier, the optimal state that will enable you to play your best golf.

This is especially important when your tendency is to react negatively to previous bad shots, and this continues to adversely affect your game. You try to put the shot out of your mind, but your emotional state is still negative. By focusing on your emotional state instead, it gives you something positive to do (rather than the 'not doing' process of forgetting a shot). It does take practice, and the more