The Mental Game of Golf: How to Stay Calm and Focused on the Course

Date Published: 11/07/2023

It’s no secret that golf is as much a game of mental strength as it is one of physical strength. The ability to bounce back from an early double- or triple-bogey requires fortitude – and if you’ve played golf for long enough, you’ll know that this ability has less to do with the skill of the golfer and more to do with their mental outlook.

Overcoming the frustrations of the course is not only beneficial to your game, it’s also beneficial to your enjoyment of the game (and the enjoyment of those playing with you). Here are five tips you can practise to keep yourself calm and laser-focused during your next round:

Visualise Your Success

You don’t go to the golf course intending to mis-hit your tee shots and whiff your putts, so don’t visualise that! See yourself hitting the ball exactly where you want it to land. Actively visualising your success gives you deliberate intention when you play your stroke, instead of playing a hit-and-hope shot and simply seeing what happens. By increasing your focus in this way, you give yourself an extra boost of confidence and put yourself on the mental front foot.

Stay in the Moment

This is admittedly easier said than done. Trying to forget about a recent dropped shot or an upcoming long par 5 takes a lot of focus. But the return is worth it: if you’re able to stay in the moment, you’re able to put all of your energy and effort into your next shot.

This single-focus mindfulness is also a key way to keep calm. Knowing that there is nothing you can do to improve your last bad shot is liberating, and makes it easy to reframe your mindset to preventing the next poor stroke – rather than mentally replaying the previous one again and again.

Tap Into the Power of Positivity

Employing a positive mindset doesn’t mean thinking only positive thoughts. Instead, look at adjusting those natural negative thoughts into more helpful ones. “I’m so annoyed that I’ve hit it into the rough” becomes “I get the chance to hone my recovery stroke skills”. “I always miss my long-range putts because I suck at putting” becomes “Each opportunity to read the green and practice makes me better”.

Refine Your Pre-Shot Routine

What do you do in the moments leading up to your shot? Do you take any practice swings, or have any breathing exercises? Not only does this help you limber up and give you a healthy hit of fresh air, but an established pre-shot routine also gets you mentally ready for your game. There’s no right or wrong pre-shot routine, so find what works for you and make little tweaks and adjustments as necessary to get your focus dialled in.

Recognise (and Respect) That Golf is a Challenge!

Even if you’re at the top of your physical game and have the mentality to match, mistakes still happen. This happens to everyone – even the pros. Golf is a challenging game by design, so lean into it and embrace the difficulty, and enjoy the moments when the practice, physical talent and mental resilience all come together. 

Looking to Improve Your Golf Game? Consider iGolf.

Golf is only growing in popularity, but a club membership is a significant investment and commitment. Enter iGolf: it is 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 My EG app and login to gain access to the iGolf platform.

The benefits to iGolf include:

  • A complete digital history of your golf handicap and scores over time
  • Keep track of your progression 
  • Easy sign-up process
  • £46 for a 12-month subscription
  • For peace of mind, personal liability insurance is included in each subscription