If you’re a golfer looking to break 80 for the first time, I think the first and most important thing to remember is – you will do it. If you follow the tips below, it will happen.
If you’re scoring in the low 80’s regularly then you can already hit the ball well enough, you have the shots required. It’s simply about staying out of your own way and being in the present moment, which means having a strong mental game and a calm, confident, focused mind that saves you those few shots a round.
Here are three bits of mental game advice from some of the world’s best golfers that you should take with you and apply on the golf course. These tips might just prove the difference…
“It’s about standing over a shot and being OK with what happens. If a putt doesn’t go in, I can get annoyed, but I’d rather hit the putt I was trying to hit than hit a bad putt because I’m worrying about what could go wrong. That’s where the peace and comfort comes from.”
First up, Max Homa. The key themes here are acceptance and focusing exclusively on what he wants to happen with the shot, not worrying about a bad outcome. That frees him up, and allows him to have a calm, more settled mind.
To achieve that, try this. Before any shot ask yourself ‘What does a good shot look like here?’. That’ll put a positive image in your mind of the shot you want to hit.
After that, simply accept that it might not happen! As you know, golf is an incredibly hard game; how often dos hots come off exactly the way you planned? Ben Hogan famously said he only hit 1 or 2 perfect shots per round, exactly as he had planned. Brooks Koepka has described golf as a game of mistakes and misses. Francesco Molinari, when he won the Open Championship, said he only hit 4 or 5 great shots.
So with that in mind, it becomes easier to accept the outcome and to not worry about what could go wrong. Your mindset should be – ‘I know the shot I’m trying to hit, but I can accept the outcome, whatever it may be’.
Now that is a strong mental game that will help you break 80.
“I’d rather hit the wrong shot committed to it, or the wrong club, than the right shot uncommitted, because you never know what’s going to happen. If you hit a shot uncommitted more likely than not you are going to miss it, if you hit a shot committed you might hit a good shot and get away with it.”
Not dissimilar to the first, this quote from Jon Rahm sums up his approach to golf’s mental game. Being committed is the most important thing.
With a mind fully committed, you’ll make a better swing than if you’re not committed to the shot, and instead trying to steer the ball away from trouble.
When you’re trying to break 80 for the first time, and you know you’ve got a good score going, it can be very hard to stay committed to your shots. Instead you start thinking ‘what if today’s the day!’ and before you know it, you start playing defence! You start trying to avoid a big number, but it happens anyway and you’ve blown your chance.
Stay committed to every shot you make. Make that your goal, because like Jon Rahm says, when you’re committed, even the wrong decision can lead to a better outcome, because you’re more likely to hit a good shot. This mindset will help save you shots and get closer to your goal of breaking 80.
“If you’re going to talk negative, you’re almost throwing yourself out to begin with, because golf is a mental game.”
Third up, the legend that is Jordan Spieth.
You know how it is. As you chase the dream of breaking 80, there are bound to be a few bumps in the road. A few moments on the course where things don’t go to plan, and you mess up.
As the pressure mounts and as things start to get uncomfortable, bad golfers have a habit of talking trash to themselves, both out loud and in their own heads.
Like Spieth alludes to here, you’re basically already done if that happens, you’re defeating yourself and creating your own downward spiral.
It’s somewhat of a cliché to say this (but cliches are often true), imagine if you had a buddy who was trying to break 80. They're playing nicely, but then they start to lose their game a bit, they hit a couple of bad shots or have a bad hole. Would you go ‘wow, wtf was that. You really suck! Here we go again!’
I certainly hope not! So why do we tend to talk to ourselves this way?
It’s very simple, keep your self-talk positive, neutral, or don't do it at all. Don't let it get negative. Your mind (and your playing partners) deserve better than to listen to that, and if you’re going to have a strong mental game and break 80, you better learn more positive or neutral self-talk as it’ll certainly stop you from those blowup holes that are wrecking your scorecard at the moment.
To learn more about acceptance, focus, commitment, self-talk and everything else about the mental game, download the Golf Guru app! You can use this code on the payment page to get 1month full access for free: JAMES_1mF