We have all come to recognise the ‘self-doubters’. It might even apply to you too. It also exists in sports other than golf, but it’s in golf where the mental demons seem to surface a little more. Over the years there have been many examples of even the best professionals suffering from what is routinely called ‘the yips’. And earlier this year we saw our own Ernie Els’ Masters prospects virtually disappear on the very first hole when he six-putted from close range to ring up a nine on that hole.
How many times have you arrived at the golf course – or even in casual conversation away from the course – to let the issue of self-doubt creep into your thinking. ‘I can’t putt’ … ‘I can’t read the putts’ … ‘I hope there’s not a lot of water because if there is I’m going to need a few extra balls’ … ‘This course is long, I hope I can get off the tee with my driver’.
This is despite you actually being able to putt reliably, accurately pick the lines of the putts, strike your irons crisply when there is no water around, and easily able to hit the ball 200m and more down the fairway.
One can’t overstate the power of the mind.
Instead of letting the demons come into your thoughts, you need to stay in your routine. Over the months I have asserted the importance of routine and practice. It’s repeating things and making them a habit. Whether it’s knocking in 20 balls from two feet away, getting used to the sight (and sound) of the ball dropping into the cup, or hitting a pitching wedge from 100m away, over a bunker and landing the ball on the green. That routine will do wonders for your golf game – and your confidence!
It is important when playing to keep yourself focused on what you need to do and keep your thinking in the moment. In earlier articles we spoke through using a putting routine. This month I encourage you to talk through your putting routine when putting. Talk to yourself, convince yourself you’re going to nail those putts. By doing this you will replace negatives with routine positives and it will directly impact your performance. Change the words you use and add them to your routine to help you to change your golf game.