Now that we are well into playing summer golf tournaments, how are you doing? In golf, every golfer can compete on his/her own level/flight which makes the competition fairer than having to compete only against the best golfers. That being said, there is still opportunity for your emotions, beliefs, and thoughts to take over and cause mismanagement of your on-course game, especially in tournaments. Your mindset/beliefs influence how you think, feel and perform in a given situation. It is what you believe about yourself that impacts your success or failure.

Golf is a game that tests all your beliefs, attitudes, personality traits, thoughts, and emotions, as well as your physical skills. It brings out the best and the worst sides of a person’s character. Unlike so many other activities in our daily lives, golf rewards success and penalizes failure immediately. You do not need to wait for a teacher to grade your efforts, or a boss to tell you what kind of a job you are doing. In golf you know as soon as the ball leaves the clubface how well you have performed.

Golf is a funny game where poorly struck shots sometimes will run onto the green and a great shot might end up embedded in a greenside bunker. Luck and a “rub of the green” are part of the game. It is up to you to accept the good breaks and to not let the bad breaks deter you from staying centered in your challenges on the golf course. Golf is not a game of perfection. An error-free round of golf is not possible. You are going to make mistakes and possibly have some bad breaks.

Golf is a game that is never mastered, never perfected. The better you play, the more the game entices you to improve even more to play better.

There are human qualities that enhance your performance. There are also qualities such as fear, anger and anxiety that sabotage your game. It is up to you to develop self-control, confidence, and an honest self-analysis. You can choose at any given moment how you want to react to a situation. Your golf game does not reflect on you as a person. The way you react to your golf shots does reflect on you as a person. “You can’t live and die by the results or try to play perfect golf. Golf is not who I am as person, they are two separate parts of my life”—Rory McElroy.

The golf course is not your opponent — you are your opponent. The golf course just waits quietly for you to challenge yourself on it. This is why it is such an exciting adventure. The golf course challenges you to get to know yourself and to grow from the experience. Remember, golf is what you do, not who you are.

Here are important areas to review for strengthening your mental golf game:


  • Mental concentration is at its peak when your mind is clear of all distractions.
  • “The ability to concentrate is good, but thinking too much about how you are doing what you are doing can be disastrous.” — Harvey Penick
  • Be totally prepared mentally and physically to play before you hit your shot.
  • Before addressing the ball, breathe deeply to slow down your busy mind for easier
  • Concentrate 100% on the present shot. Use your pre-shot routine to calm, center and focus on the shot you wish to create.


  • There is no rush. Swing as if you are working by the hour.
  • Think positively as you approach your next shot. Every shot is a new experience. The next one may be the best shot of your life.
  • Never make a change based on one bad shot or even a few missed shots.
  • Stick to the one thing you can control—your thoughts and emotions. 


  • Don’t get mad at your club; it’s the same one you used to hit that great shot yesterday.
  • Choose to let go of negative thoughts and feelings. Fully experience the good feelings from hitting a good shot.
  • You cannot be relaxed and tense at the same time. The easiest path to a relaxed body is through a relaxed state of mind.
  • Know the difference between being self-centered and centered in self.
  • Release fears and judgments that keep you bound in faulty thinking.
  • Let go of the attachment to worry. You created your fearful thoughts — so you can let them go.
  • Remember the confident feelings of playing “in the zone.”
  • “It’s tough to play bad when you’re happy on the inside.” – Jessica Korda, LPGA 

Positive Mental Thoughts:

  • It is more important to learn to score than it is to learn to swing.
  • A miss-hit is a golden opportunity to learn what not to do.
  • Experience is your best teacher.
  • Always picture in your mind where you want the ball to land safely.
  • Change “it’s impossible” to “anything is possible” – Just Do It!
  • A consistent pre-shot routine produces consistent shots.
  • Expecting to play a round of golf without error is unrealistic.
  • The game of golf is “mind over muscle.”
  • Golf is a waiting game. Wait for the opportunities to appear.
  • Prepare for each shot with a good attitude. Act as if it is the best feeling and the most fun filled shot you will hit today.
  • The mental game of golf is not so much what you know, as how you use that knowledge at the right times.
  • “You just have to take the attitude that you’ve done all the training that is required, and what is the point of that training if you’re not going to trust it?”Bob Rotella

To summarize mental on-course tips for winning your big tournament: 

  • Use a positive pre-shot and post-shot routine. Consistent mental routines will produce consistent shots.
  • Trust your swing. Let go of mechanical thoughts. Believe in your ability. It is impossible to “fix” your swing after missing a shot. Instead, find your rhythm and tempo.
  • Remember your good shots, not the mistakes. Don’t keep track of your missed shots by continually talking about them. Congratulate yourself for your good shots.
  • Take DEAD AIM at your target. Have a clear picture of your target in your mind and swing to it without thinking.
  • Relax your mind and body. You can’t be relaxed and anxious at the same time. Take deep breaths to relax your body and slow down your thinking mind for sharper focus.
  • Take the time to manage your game. When you miss a shot, make sure you can recover. Think the shot through. Play only percentage shots that you know you can hit.
  • Be patient. Golf is a waiting game. Wait for the opportunities to happen. The more you rush, the less clearly you are able to think. The more you rush, the quicker your swing becomes and the more mistakes you make.
  • Concentrate only on your game. Being concerned with your competitor’s game will distract you from being in control of your own game.
  • Play one shot at a time. Play each shot as if it is the most important shot you will ever hit by giving it your full intention and attention.
  • Use good body language to feel confident. Walk with your head high and look straight ahead. Looking down at the ground will access negative self-talk.
  • Use affirming self-talk. Make sure the things you say to yourself during your round are helpful and not harmful.
  • Change all fear shots into positive images. Give your full attention to what you want to happen, not what you are afraid will happen.
  • Act like a champion. Act as if it is impossible to fail.

Match play tournaments have a completely different strategy and mindset. This information is available on the website, Archived Newsletters, Match Play Golf Tournaments, September 2010.

Play “in the zone” with Joan

Entrain Your Heart & Mind for Peak Performances

If these golf tips are of value to you and you would like to improve your mental golf game, call Joan for a complimentary 15-minute consultation. She can be reached by phone at 828-707-5478, by email at or through the Positive Mental Imagery website or blog.

P.S. Feel free to pass this monthly PMI blog of mental golf keys to any friends you may have. They may wish to know about it, and to subscribe at — which, as you know, costs nothing. Send it on to a friend!

To train your brain to play focused golf for accessing your peak performances, listen to Positive Mental Imagery self-empowering guided imagery self-hypnosis CDs/MP3s in the privacy of your own home. Eight different empowerment audios are available at

THE HEART OF GOLF, Access Your Supreme Intelligence for Peak Performances explores and explains negative emotions such as fear and performance anxiety, the four Cs of mind blockage, the four progressive stages of learning the supreme intelligence of the heart, and the way to access the zone in competition. It is a player’s guide for developing your true inner self by returning to joy and love of self instead of seeking praise and rewards from the outside world.

THE HEART OF GOLF guidebook for transforming your life and your golf game is available on Amazon and Kindle  

All royalties will be donated to Junior Golf!


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