When playing golf are there shots that cause you anxiety? Is there a situation you hate to find yourself because success seems impossible. How about putting that three foot downhill breaker for par, does that cause you angst? The emotional responses to all of these challenges are rooted in one thing: FEAR: False Evidence Appearing Real. When shoots that increase the pressure on our ability to perform arise, I had a tendency to think of all the wrong possible outcomes. Yup, I was so focused on missing, I actually forgot to believe that I could make the shot….is that not the definition of crazy for any golfer!
Golf is a game that requires a certain amount of mental strength in order to be successful. We are constantly shouting down those negative thoughts the detract from our game. FEAR is the deep rooted emotion where our minds make up false things hurdles that add to our stressors on each shot. In my case, I start to run down all the swing mechanics that need addressing before I hit the ball.
Before, I would be become paralyzed with overthinking and mishit my shot. And after missing my first shot my FEAR would start to compound. As the round progressed, any shot that was not ‘simple or straight forward’ would sent my mind reeling down a false path of negativity. It really was a challenge in my early years of playing golf. Fortunately, I was able to beat back the FEAR syndrome and focus on the positive outcome I desired.
How I beat back the FEAR challenges in my game was not a quick fix. I had to practice enough so that my confidence in my game overcame my FEAR and negative thoughts. Don’t get me wrong, there were many peaks and valleys, a few wrong paths, and so down right poor training choices. However, during all the travels, I started to experience some success that help keep me focused on the journey to a FEAR-less game. As we fast forward many years the last 10 years and virtually all my FEAR is gone because I stopped inventing things that could go wrong with my game.
The fact that my FEAR woes are at bay does not mean that I do not get anxious from time to time. This heightened emotion is not the same as my past mental challenges. As with all difficult shots, I go through my processes that lead to a successful outcome. I visualize my shot and attempt execute it with confidence. Sometimes it works out and others…..well, not so much. Regardless, my journey to overcome my mental challenges continues and will likely continue for the rest of the time I play golf.
Taking the time to banish FEAR from my game was a journey well worth fall the frustration and lamenting about what might be in my game. Golf is a crazy game that has many pitfalls that are real enough without creating false ones. The way I overcame my FEAR was to develop more confidence in my game to approach every shot in a logical and focused manner. It took a bit of time to develop my mental strength were my confidence was in control, but I would not change my journey in anyway because I have confidence in all aspects of my game regardless of the results.
I am a grateful golfer! See you on the links!
4 thoughts on “Letting Go Of FEAR In Your Golf Game”
FEAR in anything we do is an emotional response with a strong negative component. In life and golf, facing our fears, putting them in perspective and then executing the solution can either be done reluctantly (focusing on the negative consequences) or looking at the shot and embracing the challenge.
I really don’t think that any routine will help you if you don’t deal with the negative thoughts and put them in perspective first. Practice certainly builds confidence and may help you focus on the shot at hand but the negative thoughts need to be put to rest first. If there is tension or indecision, the results are more than likely be a squandered shot, regardless of your talent level.
I find that the longer your pre shot routine, the greater the opportunity for negative thoughts to persist. In my own game, after assessing the options and choosing a solution, commit to the shot and get on with it.
Too many people let a bad shot mess up their round. You need to forget about it and move on. Putting things in perspective, golf is a game that is very challenging and in any round there are going to be some bad shots. Accepting that fact and embracing challenges in a positive fashion will lead to greater enjoyment of the game.
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All the points you make are definitely true. I found that developing confidence in my abilities has banned the negative chatter to the penalty box. I have less and less of it now which in turn allows me to focus on positive shot making. It is a vicious circle sometimes, but one that can be managed.
Fear guides me on the course. Fear over bad lies. Fear of missing left or right or worse, short. Fear of the wind or of being able to clear a tree that’s in my way. There are all kinds of things to fear. And it’s ok. We should. Before we get to the ball. It’s useful information for our decision making then. But step over the line as they say and we should be back in game mode. Thinking of nothing but what we are about to do. We use routine to push fear to the background where it’s out of the way and we focus on the shot at hand. How will we set up to the ball. How will we grip the club. Where should we have the ball in our stance to get the flight and turf interaction we want. These are things we focus on to perform what we intend and they do a great job of replacing those fears in our focus if we actively concentrate on them.
But there is one thing we need to remember. Once we are set up, waiting is our enemy. So go through the routine. Set yourself up to succeed, take a waggle and go. No standing around over the ball. That’s just going to give your brain too much time to go off script. You either did things right or you didn’t. You were confident stepping in so don’t wait so long you start questioning it. That lets fear back in when you need all your confidence. And if for some reason you can’t stop questioning, that’s the time to step back and start over from scratch. Go back to the beginning, make a choice you can believe in before going back.
Every big handicapper I know makes the mistake of spending too much time over the ball once they have set up to it. Some go static for long periods, some look and and down between target and ball 10 times before they go. They are all dragging it out and leaving open time for questions to pop in and kill their confidence.
On another note, going to have lots of reasons for fear this weekend. I’m playing later today and on Sunday with two different sets of friends and both days show high winds are expected. Today it’s 13 steady 32 mph gusts. Sunday says 16 steady and 44 mph gusts. And the high temp today will be 81 while on Sunday the high is only 62.
That much wind means more chance for a ball to go astray badly. Not only because of the winds effect on the ball but from it’s effect on your while you swing. lol It can be pretty hard to make a good connection when you’re getting blown off your feet. But fear will work in my favor in those winds. It will remind me over and over to take a shorter swing to keep the ball low. And a shorter swing is easier to control so that should help me navigate and stand a chance at a decent score. Patience and good course management will be the things that make scoring possible in those kinds of winds.
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We are likely discussing differences in terminology. I do not think the FEAR I am talking about is the same as what you described in your opening para. I think it is more in the third para where we start thinking too much over the ball and it causes us to make stuff up that has no value to our swing. Basically, we are saying the same thing using different words. All I can say in the for the weekend in the wind: “when its breezy, swing easy” have fun.