Your mind can be one of the most powerful tools on your journey to better golf, and just as easily, it can be the most destructive. Many golfers (us included) can lose shots simply through making poor mental decisions on the golf course, so if we can learn to think our way around 18 holes, better scores are sure to follow.
To help you eradicate avoidable errors from your golf game, check out a few of the most common mental mistakes below.
1. Don't neglect your pre-shot routine
The pre-shot routine is essentially a dress rehearsal for your full swing and its familiarity and repetition can help build confidence before you pull the trigger.
It's designed to keep your mental and physical mechanics tight, and this will translate to you being in the best position to swing the golf club the same way each and every time.
It's very possible that you haven't yet developed a reliable pre-shot routine. While every golfer will likely differ in exactly how they step up to the golf ball, check out the video below from Eric Cogorno to give you a good starting point.
2. Don't over analyse your swing
If you hit a few bad shots during your round, fiddling around with your golf swing rarely solves the problem.
On a similar theme, if you're wanting to try out the newest swing tip you've gleaned from your favourite YouTube golf coach, the driving range is the place to be. If you haven't tested it out before-hand, attempt to implement it on the first few holes at your peril.
For the tinkerers out there, try accepting the golf swing you have brought to the first tee and stick with it throughout your round - you could be pleasantly surprised.
If it fails to perform, a trip to the driving range might be needed before you next tee it up.
3. Don't be so hard on yourself
Sometimes when you're embroiled in a frustrating round, it can be easy to let your emotions get the better of you. "What's wrong with me?" you might howl as you search for some divine intervention.
Each season, most, if not all, amateur golfers have a round (or several) where it seems like nothing they do comes off. We say, play your 18 holes and accept whatever score you end up signing for.
Remember to cut yourself some slack and shake it off. It was simply a bad day at the office.
Whether you have a great round or a pretty poor round, neutralising your responses is an excellent way to maintain your improvement over time and, more importantly, ensure you enjoy every visit to the golf course.
If you are a golfer who often feels the red mist descending, the boys from MeAndMyGolf have some great tips to help you rein that anger in.
4. Don't look beyond the next shot
We've all heard the very famous golf saying: "The most important shot in golf is the next one." It's undoubtedly true. Better players tend to have an enhanced ability to stay firmly in the present.
Anxiety from a previous poor shot is a an emotional ball and chain which will only hinder your game. On a similar note, don't let your mind wander to the fact that you're approaching your nemesis hole.
All your focus should be on the shot you currently face and giving that the absolute respect it deserves.
Banish the memory of your last shot. Make a good club selection. Go through your pre-shot routine. Have an intelligent target in mind. Focus, and commit to the shot.
5. Don't ever give up on your round
It's quite easy to give up on your round if things aren't going your way early on. You don't be that guy (or girl). There's always something you can salvage from your average 4 hours on the golf course.
If you tee off with an aim to beat your best ever score and it becomes clear that it's not happening, simply change to another target. Aim to have your fewest putts, most ever GIRs, most fairways hit, or maybe even have a sneaky side bet with your buddies.