Mental Mondays: Temper Your Expectations

The Five Inch CourseYou are not a tour player (although I can think of a couple of Tour players who would do well to read these tips) and thus need to reign in your expectations. You are not going to make par or birdie on every hole (or perhaps even most), and are going to hit more than your share of bad shots.

So get over it.

Having realistic expectations can help you score better. In the aftermath of a poor play, make note of what went wrong, and then concentrate on the next shot. There’s no need to beat yourself up and get down. You’ve made bad shots in the past—and you’re going to make more in the future. Getting angry about the inevitable increase tension and makes poor play more likely as the round goes on.

Set a realistic goal for yourself before setting out. If you consistently shoot over 100, set for yourself the goal of breaking the century mark. If you consistently shoot in the low 90s, use 89 as your mark. Be sure, however, to adjust your goal for the course. If your goal is to break 90 for the first time, and you’re trying it on a new course that has a 135 slope, you’re in for a day of unrealized expectations.

One of the funniest (and saddest) things I know is the weekender who works himself into a raging fury after a poor shot. “I can’t believe I hit that shot,” he rages—and I think: “Why not? You’ve been hitting them like that all day long.”

Tommy Armour said: Every golfer scores better when he learns his capabilities.

This mental golf tip is an excerpt from The Five Inch Course: Thinking Your Way To Better Golf.


4 thoughts on “Mental Mondays: Temper Your Expectations”

  1. In line with today’s Mental Monday is the recent pga/usga compaign to get us playing the correct tees.  I’d read an article on this over a year ago and started observing myself.  Realizing I was basically playing driver, 5-wood, wedge on every par 4, moved up.  Now instead of being occassionally trickling a ball on to the green in regulation, I have real opportunities.  Its more fun playing the game when there’s a risk the approach shot might be long. 

    The article I read suggested for those of us with 200yd or less drives, the course should be 5700 yards or so if I remember correctly.  I look at the length on Par 3s to make sure I don’t need career shots to get there.  I check the Par 4s, to makes sure I won’t have to play too many as personal par 5s, just due to length (others I may need to do for a different reason). 

    Like the mental monday pieces, thanks.

  2. A nice bit of advice to many of us, as is Dave Petersen’s advice to look at moving up a tee or two.  The game is a lot more fun if you are not hitting fairway woods to every par 4.  Also, one typically will hit better shots when using 9-8-7 iron from the fairway rather than 3-wood from the rough.

  3. Great advice,

    It’s playing within your abilities and not expecting too much. I play with 18 + handicappers that expect to make par every hole. Consequently they haven’t improved in years.



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