Winning Thoughts: Cam Smith's mental game at the Open Championship

November 18, 2022
3 mins
James S

At Golf Guru it’s our belief that you can share the same mental skills as the golfers who are winning out on the world’s top tours - we show you how! In this week’s Winning Thoughts we’re looking at Cam Smith’s classy victory in the 150t Open at St Andrews suggesting audio sessions in the Golf Guru app that’ll help you to think more like this year’s ‘Champion Golfer Of The Year’.

Here are 3 key components of Cam's mental game.


“I really wanted to stay patient on that back 9. I was 3 back at the turn, and I knew I just had to be patient. I felt good all day and the putts started going in”.

First up, patience. It’s mind blowing that all four men’s major champions in 2022 have emphasised the importance of being patient. It clearly is a key ingredient for winning majors.

Keeping your head, not letting bad shots get to you, accepting whatever happens to your ball without getting annoyed or anxious. That’s what patience looks like during a round of golf.  

For Cam, it was the fact he was trailing by 3 shots with 9 holes to go. That’s a big deficit, especially if it's Rory McIlroy in front of you. But rather than letting it affect him, he stayed calm, focused and patient, allowing the birdies to come his way rather than trying to force them.

Head to the search page in the app and type in ‘Patience’. You’ll find a bunch of great sessions there that teach you about the concept specifically, but you can also cultivate it through good habits like meditation that help you to have a slower, calmer mind that doesn’t react so quickly to things.


Positive Self-Talk & Perspective

Cam was asked how he had managed to overcome a bad third round, in which he shot 2 over par 74, to respond with an 8 under 64 on the final day.

“I felt really comfortable, I felt like my game was there. I just needed to keep doing what I was doing. I didn’t do anything wrong yesterday in theround, I shrugged off well. It wasn’t me, it was one of those day

It’s telling that Cam didn’t get down on himself after a dodgy third round that meant he lost the lead of the tournament. The quote above shows he didn’t blame himself at all. It’s a powerful skill to be able to do this, especially in a major. It meant he could reset and go again on Sunday, with a clear head, unfazed by his third round setback.

How often do you beat yourself up after a bad round? Panic about your game, go away and try to ‘fix’ it at home? You can learn from Cam that this is pointless, sometimes you just don’t have your 'A' game. If you worry and over assess, you’ll potentially get in your own way the next day and inadvertently, prevent yourself from moving on and bouncing back with a good round.

One way to think like Cam is to have a mental process after the round that keeps you positive. In the Golf Guru app we have a ‘Notes’ feature, where after every round you write down your best tee shot, approach, pitch or chip, and putt. That helps you focus on the good shots and stop thinking about the negatives. The notes get stored for ever so you can always refer back to them whenever you need a little hit of positivity and confidence.


Finally, Cam was asked what the biggest improvement in his game was this year leading up to the Open.

“I honestly think it’s belief. To win The Players Championship was a really big confidence booster. I knew it wasn’t going to be long before I got one of the majors.”

Nope, not his putting or approach play. In his opinion the biggest improvement is his belief.  

Belief is a combination of a couple of different things. On the surface you’ve got confidence, which can be built up through good results and rounds, and through parts of your game that are going well. Clearly Cam had confidence in his game, especially his putting.

But deep down, on more of a subconscious level, belief is more like a gut feeling that relates to how you think of yourself and therefore what you can achieve. There’s a reason why Cam was in the position to win on Sunday and then went and actually did it - because in his subconscious mind he believed he could.

This deeper level of self-belief is much harder to change, but it can be done. Do you truly believe you can reach your goals, whatever they are? If you don’t believe you can, you’re not going to – plain and simple, someone else will.

So how do you develop belief? In a number of ways. Write down affirmations and read them last thing at night and first thing in the morning.

And listen to our 'Big Goal' Visualisation session in the app. You’ll actually experience the feeling of winning a big event, of achieving what you want to in golf.  

That’s it for this week’s Winning Thoughts. Check out the sessions we mentioned, and see if you can take something from Cam Smith’s major winning performance into your own game, to help you play to your full potential and achieve your golfing goals. See you next time!