Mental Mistakes

A good friend of mine who is a single digit handicapper said something the other day that made me think about my own game.

“I’m really working hard on getting rid of the mental mistakes,” he said. “I can live with the physical mistakes. But the mental ones have got to go.”

That’s a great way to approach things, and one that I’m going to make a real effort to adopt. But I think I’m going to start small. I’m going to start with a resolution to work harder on choosing the correct club. That’s part of the mental game—preparing for the shot—and one that could stand improvement. I lose far too many shots over the course of a round by either leaving it short, or flying the green. In fact, I’m sure I could drop 3-5 strokes a round if I made better choices.

So I’m going to try to start a mental checklist before each and every time before pulling a club from the bag: distance to front and back of green (more important, I think, than to the middle), lie, wind, height. I’ve managed to make an aim and alignment check part of my pre-swing routine, so with a little discipline, I should also be able to incorporate an automatic club check.

By far the hardest part for me is going to be discounting the “feel” of the shot. Sometimes a shot just “feels” like an eight, when logic tells me it should be a seven. I’ve got to learn to go with logic.

Of course, as with my friend, I’m going to discount the physical errors. Chunking a shot, or hitting it thin doesn’t count as a “wrong club.” They’re dumb moves, but not “mental mistakes.” Focusing on the mental, while discounting the physical is a great idea, and one that should not only lower my scores, but also keep me from beating myself up over the odd poor shot.

Do the GolfBlogger and think for a minute about your own mental game. Is there another factor I should consider in choosing the right club? And what are the mental errors you’d like to eliminate. Leave a comment.


3 thoughts on “Mental Mistakes”

  1. I think one of my biggest mental errors is that sometimes I forget to tell myself what my clearly defined target is. What I mean is, sometimes I’ll be on the tee box and think “I want this shot to go right at that water tower” (or tree or whatever in the distance) and sometimes I just stand there and I want the ball to be in the fairway.

    I really find that I play better when I can tell my partner “that thing is my target for this shot” but a lot of times after two or three bad shots I’ll quit doing that out of frustration/stupidity.

  2. You are on the right track with considering the multiple factors that lead to club selection.  Most of us have a hard time making a good swing when in the back of our minds we are still debating whether a 7 is enough or a 6 too much.  If I am thinking properly, I can convince myself that the 7 (or 6) is perfect and then make a confident pass at the ball.

    Taking enough club is also key.  Most of our misses are short.  It is a rare round for me when I can say that my problems arose from the trouble behind the green.


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