Less Talk, More Action
To say that confidence is helpful in playing good golf is not exactly breaking new ground. You could build a pile to rival Mount Everest if you stacked all the sports psychology books related to the topic.
But don’t bail on me just yet. This isn’t a post about positive self talk and convincing yourself that you’re a better player than you are. In this lesson, I’m going to discuss actionable strategies to boost your confidence and how to practice so that you’ll be mentally bulletproof.
This Lesson Is For You If:
You want to feel more confident on the course
You feel nervous over certain shots or clubs
Rate Your Confidence
The first step in this process is figuring out what shots give you confidence and what shots make your knees shake. You probably already have some ideas about this, but it’s good to get confirmation. You can do some of this on the range, but the best place is on the course where the stakes are higher.
As you set up to each shot, stop to notice how you feel. Is your grip tight or relaxed? Is your body tense or loose? Is your breath smooth or are you holding it? Rate your confidence from 1 to 10, with 10 being Tiger Woods circa 2000. After you hit the shot, make a note such as, “6 Iron, 170 yards, 7/10”. You might also include outside factors (hitting over water or a narrow fairway) or your shot intent (trajectory, shot shape).
After a few practice sessions or rounds, compile the notes and see what you can learn. Are there certain clubs that you hate hitting? Is it certain situations that give you the shakes? What clubs make you feel invincible?
Play to Your Confident Shots
When you’ve figured out the shots that you love, the next step is obvious: hit them more often! If trying to hit a draw makes your hands sweat, just hit fades. If your long irons are terrible, hit a choked-down hybrid or lay it up.
Of course this advice can only be taken so far. If hitting driver brings your confidence to a 1, you can either forget about playing full length courses or you can…
Practice to Eliminate Your Fears
Make your practice the opposite of your on course play: hit only the shots you fear. Spend your practice time figuring out the clubs and shots that you don’t like so that you can expand your game.
Fair warning: this is not going to be fun at first. You will probably not enjoy the experience of mishitting a bunch of shots in a row. You may feel like people are judging you (they’re not, they barely notice you). Persevere. Bring only your weak clubs to the range so you can’t cop out and start smashing 7I. The feeling of accomplishment you will get when your 3W confidence goes from 2 to 8 will be immense. And all the ground balls you’ve hit on the range will be worth it when you’re putting for eagle.