The mental challenges in golf are vast and numerous! What distinguishes an average player from a great player is usually their mental toughness. The ability to have laser like focus when required is something that is honed over time. There are a few who have the innate ability to be mentally strong, but for the most of us, mental toughness must be nurtured and developed.
Through my many years of playing sports, I have developed a keen competitive edge that has served me extremely well. Like other athletes, I have played at the élite level in several sports with much success. However, the great times have also been marred with periods of self-doubt and lack of confidence. These dark times always started with one small insignificant word that has the ability to wreak devastation in its path. That word is “Can’t”!
I must have heard this word 10,000 times in my 50+ years of life! But, the greatest negative effect this word has is when I use it against myself.
Years back, a volleyball coach that I knew, always told his players “you are right, you Can’t” if they used that negative word. He told the young athletes that as soon as they say they can’t do something, their mind and body will immediately agree. He further explained that the biggest effect of that word lies in the six inches of real estate between their ears!
This coach’s teachings have stuck with me through the years. He taught me that being mentally strong is extremely important to any athlete. Last year was a great year for me on the links. There are some things I still have challenges accomplishing, but last year’s successes, as I worked towards being a scratch golfer, helped remove the word “Can’t” from my vocabulary.
This does not mean that I am successful all the time, but ‘by removing that word that shall not be spoken’ the doors of possibility stay open. Last year, I tried learning to shape the ball last year with mixed success; I tried chipping the ball with a new stance with greater success; and I stayed focused on the positive aspects of my game with the best results of all. Through this entire journey, I slowly reduced my self-doubt and increased my confidence on the links.
The greatest success story of last year was the improvement in my mental toughness.
I am no longer afraid of tough lies, hitting into the green from 200 yards, or playing over water into the wind. I found that using the word “CAN” helped improve my game significantly. Now, I did have some challenging times and that bad word did try to creep back into my mind, but I quickly vanquished it with a positive attitude and positive self-talk.
Golf offers many challenges when a player has any self-doubt. As I told my friend Brian from All About Golf, I am going improve my game by focusing 70% of my efforts on the mental side of golf. I believe that removing “that negative word” is the first place to start. I am mentally preparing to be a scratch golfer and it all starts here and now!
I am a grateful golfer! See you on the links!