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10 Tips to Master the Mental Game and Shoot Lower Scores

When trying to lower our golf scores, many of us can get caught up in the mechanics of the golf swing, or perhaps we'll spend endless hours mulling over another new set of golf clubs that are 'guaranteed' to take us to the next level. What we often neglect is our own mental approach.

"Golf is a game that is played on a five-inch course - the distance between your ears" Bobby Jones

As well as downloading the free Hole19 golf app (obvs), one of the best ways to start shooting lower scores is to sharpen your mental golf game. Check out some of the best tips we've found that will help you turn your mind into the 15th club in your golf bag.

Avoid Over Thinking

With the abundance of golf instruction available online, it's quite easy to arrive at the first tee with too many swing thoughts spinning around your head. Make time to get to the range before each round and work on your the various swing thoughts and checkpoints there.

When you're on the golf course you want to be thinking less about the mechanics of your swing and more about intelligent course management.

Get a Perfect Pre-Shot Routine

If you watch all of the best golfers on each of the professional Tours, you'll find many different swings, but one thing that they all have in common is some variation of an ingrained pre-shot routine.

If a professional golfer refuses to pull the trigger without going through their own pre-shot routine, why on Earth would any amateur feel comfortable doing so?

Play Your Own Game

Your ego can destroy your golf game very quickly. There's no need for you to keep up with the other golfers in your group, and you must learn to play to your strengths. Don't let outside influences shape your approach to your round.

Prime example: Don't get drawn into a 'battle of the big dogs' from the tee when playing with friends, when you know the correct play is hitting your super-reliable (but admittedly shorter) hybrid or long iron.

Visualisation is Key

Former world number one Luke Donald is a fervent advocate of visualisation techniques both on and off the golf course.

He believes, as many top golfers do, that if you can see the shot you desire before addressing the ball, then you will be in better shape to get a positive outcome.

Check out Luke's thoughts below.

Have a 'Go-To' Shot

Sometimes it can seem like a round of golf is getting away from you, and you might feel powerless to intervene. When things aren't going your way, the feeling of a sweetly struck golf shot can be just the tonic to help you get off that dreaded bogey train. Having a go-to golf shot can help boost your confidence and reinvigorate the round.

What's more, Golf Digest 50 Best Teacher Brian Manzella believes if you can identify the shot you hit the best AND identify your predominant ball flight, you can shoot better scores with exactly the game you have now.

Anger and Golf Don't Mix

There's nothing enjoyable about playing with an angry golfer, but at times the red mist can descend on even the most placid player after a particularly bad shot. Whether you outwardly display that anger or not, it can still have a severely detrimental effect to the round.

Anger leads to a loss of control which can be crippling for any golfer. Check out the video below and get Robin Sieger's tips to manage your emotions better the next time you find yourself in the golfing doldrums.

Ignore Unsolicited Swing Advice

Unless you manage to bump into the local golf pro during your 18 holes, treat every piece of unwanted golf swing advice as nothing short of utter baloney. We've heard them all: you're swinging too fast, you lifted your head, keep your left arm straight... yadda yadda yadda.

On the other hand, if you find yourself asking for the advice of playing partners, it's probably time to seek out the aforementioned golf pro; otherwise, you could be headed further and further down the proverbial rabbit hole.

Stay in the Present

Golfers pay sports psychologists handsomely to help bolster their mental toughness and one area they pay particular attention to is the ability to stay in the present.

Being able to forget the three-putt on the last green as you stand over your next tee-shot is vitally important to stop a round unravelling out of control. Instead, refocus on the shot before you, take a few deep breaths, employ your pre-shot routine, and go ahead and put your best swing on the ball.

Practice As You Play

Don't be that guy who machine-guns 100 balls every range session - this approach rarely improves any golfer's game.

Instead, go through your pre-shot routine before hitting each ball to a pre-selected target. Simulate different shots as much as possible. Better players might try to shape a few to their desired target, to help them play a particular shot on-demand in the middle of their next round.

Hit full shots, 3/4 shots, spend time at the short-play area and don't neglect your putting.

Learn to hit each shot at the range with purpose, giving every golf ball the attention it deserves, and you will get better results at the golf course. Rick Shiels explains his approach to practice in the video below.

Find Peace at the Golf Course

Dr Bob Rotella has many mental game tips which will make you a better golfer. One, in particular, caught our eye because it can be true for many of us here at Hole19 HQ. It centres around finding peace at the golf course and turning it into your sanctuary.

Too often golfers arrive at the first tee riddled with nerves. Even before they get to the first tee, they can be filled with what-ifs, worst-case scenarios and self-fulfilling prophecies.

Make the golf course your happy place and rid yourself of negative thoughts. You'll shoot lower scores almost immediately.


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