Anyone who has played a round of 18 holes knows that golf is a game that tests both your physical and mental strength. Being able to bounce back after a rough start takes a considerable degree of toughness. It’s not just about skill: it’s about your mindset and how you approach the game.
With this in mind, here are our top tips, strategies and pointers to help you get your golf handicap down through balancing mental fortitude with your natural golf skills.
It’s important to want to perform to the best of your abilities, but there is such a thing as being too optimistic – especially if you’re just starting out. Giving yourself over-ambitious targets won’t necessarily help you to hit them, but it will cause frustrations and add pressure if those targets aren’t met. Rather give yourself a challenging but achievable goal, and tweak this as your golf skill improves.
Not only is stretching your muscles a great way to get physically ready for a round, but it has tremendous benefits for your mindset and mental game, too. Starting your day on the course with stretches wakes your mind up before you even play a stroke, instead of going into the first hole cold.
Building on the mental benefit of stretching, getting into the habit of warm up swings and strokes is equally important for your mind. Note: your pre-round warm-up is just that. If you feel you aren’t hitting the ball well, remember that it ultimately has no bearing on your upcoming game. In fact, it allows you to identify and tweak where you may be going wrong before any scoring starts.
On the other hand, if your warm up is clean and smooth, carry that mentality and stroke play into your game.
While your pre-round warm up shouldn’t take longer than the round itself, adding a few practice putts into the mix can give you an excellent confidence boost. It allows you the chance to read how the greens are playing – and sinking a few close-range putts always feels good, and gives you a mental edge going into the game proper.
This sounds easy, but it can be challenging. Being able to push the scorecard out of your mind, or your last poor stroke (or your last brilliant stroke, for that matter) is essential to keeping your focus on your upcoming shot. Distractions take up your mental capacity, and while they’re completely natural, they don’t offer any advantages – especially if you’re playing a key stroke. It may take some time before this feels natural, but it will enable you to put all of your mental energy into your next shot.
Even if you’re playing a solo round, 18 holes takes time. Having a supply of nutritious snacks like dried fruit or nuts (and a bottle of water, of course) keeps your body and mind sharp. While nuts and fruits are just suggestions and not the only nutrition available, try not to snack on anything that might make you feel sluggish or cause you to hit an energy slump.
Don’t let the pursuit of lowering your golf handicap detract from the enjoyment of the game. Ultimately, every golfer goes to the course because they love to play golf. Appreciate your good play, don’t get hung up on any less-than-perfect strokes, and remember that the next round is never too far away.
Golf is a sport that is growing in popularity, but a club membership is a significant investment and commitment. Enter iGolf: a subscription-based platform launched by England Golf. Designed specifically for non-club members, iGolf allows you to track your golfing progress, and makes it possible to obtain an official handicap index under the WHS. Simply sign up, download the England Golf app and login to gain access to the iGolf platform.
The benefits to iGolf include: