How Champion Golfers Overcome Pressure

Golf Psychology

Getting Ready to Compete:

It’s less than 1 hour away from teeing off and every golfer is getting ready. Many golfers are warming up on the range or on the putting green. Others are stretching and listening to music, and some are strategizing with their caddy and loved ones, while some are alone collecting their thoughts and visualizing their upcoming round. Golfers may have different routines and while no particular routine is necessarily wrong, the mindset in which they are preparing themselves for when they compete must be exactly on point. It is the mentality that needs to be tapped into to understand the deeper meaning of how golfers are readying themselves for competition and more specifically, how golfers are readying themselves for pressure.  

Non-Champion Golfers Vs. Champion Golfers:

Too often, non-champion golfers perceive pressure as a threat that must be avoided at all cost. They may start worrying about possible future outcomes and unknowingly prepare their mind for possible defeat. Champion golfers, similar to non-champion golfers, may also feel pressure. However, the big difference is that champion golfers view pressure as an opportunity and look forward to the physical sensation that pressure brings. Recently, one of my younger athlete’s (9 years old), a very talented, competitive go-kart racer, stated that for him, “Pressure is what I like the most about competing. It is the most exciting part.” He mentioned that, “without pressure, it would not be fun.” In addition, he said that, he prefers “a harder race” when his competitors are even better than him.

Why Is This Response Out Of The Ordinary?  

Too often, athletes fear pressure and worry about future mistakes or other competitors and even disappointing others. It is important to remember that pressure is a part of competition. It is not about eliminating all of the pressure but instead it is about how a golfer is able to manage it.  

Having Fun With Pressure:

One plan of action that I encourage athletes to start working on is to practice enjoying pressure. To enjoy pressure athletes need to readjust their goals. Also, golfers should sit down and talk with their support team (instructor, caddy, parents, spouses, etc.). It’s critical that the golfer lets his or her support team know that he or she is going out there focusing on enjoyment over winning. This disclosure of goals helps reassure a golfer’s trust with those who care the most about results and in many cases allows the golfer to feel calmer in even the toughest moments.

Patrick Alban, B.S, M.S.,

Director of Mental Training at SPMI & Jim McLean Golf School