Golfers, and non-golfers alike, know that success in golf requires having a strong mental game. Becoming efficient technically and having a good grasp on all the fine points required to hit all the various shots throughout the course of a round can only take you so far. At some point, your mental fitness needs to be evaluated and if areas of weakness are identified, then a pathway forward, to become stronger in those area, needs to be planned out.
In the interest of providing golfers a first step in doing this, I turned to one of the most renowned golf mental coaches in the game, Dr. Joe Parent.
Dr. Joe is a PGA Tour and LPGA Instructor, keynote speaker, and the best-selling author of ZEN GOLF: Mastering the Mental Game as well as several other books. His books have sold more than one million copies worldwide. I had the opportunity to talk to Dr. Joe recently and he provided me with the following Mental Fitness Quiz to share with you. Be honest with yourself as you go through this and see how you stack up…
Before a competitive round do you spend time:
a) Worrying about what could go wrong
b) Visualizing yourself playing good shots
While warming up do you work on:
a) Refining your technique, hitting lots of shots with the same club
b) Getting a simple swing feel, then playing a variety of shots with full routine
On the first tee are you focused on:
a) What others will think of you if you hit a bad shot
b) Trusting your swing feel and making a committed swing
On the opening holes if you get off to a good start, do you:
a) Start thinking about the possibility of shooting your career score
b) Simply stay in the present and focus on playing each shot the best you can
If you get off to a poor start, do you:
a) Panic and start analyzing your swing, trying to “fix it”
b) Slow down and check your set-up, tempo, and mental focus to see what’s getting in the way of playing better
Midway through the round if you have been playing well, do you:
a) Worry about when the wheels will come off, tighten up, and get more careful and tentative
b) Attend to your energy level (water & food) and your tempo, focused on keeping the same rhythm and attitude that has been working well
If you have been playing poorly, do you:
a) Decide it’s not your day and start playing with a negative attitude with anger, carelessness, excuses, complaints, and even look for the drink cart to drown your sorrows
b) Accept that your ball-striking is not at its best, and take the opportunity to work on your recovery shots and short game
Near the end of the round if you have been playing well, do you:
a) Play defensively, trying to not make a mistake and get done without losing many strokes
b) Stay focused on the shot at hand rather than getting ahead of yourself, and keep playing to make your lowest score on each hole without taking an unnecessary risk
After the round do you:
a) Focus on what went wrong, speak negatively about your game, and complain about the conditions
b) Reflect on what went well and reinforce what you did that led to your success, and make a plan to work on the parts of your game that have room for improvement
The more questions you answered with choice b), the more you can rely on your mental game to help you play your best.
Any questions you answered with choice a), indicate areas of your mental game that need improvement.
For more information on online instruction, and long-distance lessons, please visit DrJoeParent.com.