A Three-Step Golf Game to Help You Gain On-Course Confidence Like Lilia Vu

By Brendon Elliott, PGA
Published on
(John Walton/PA Images via Getty Images)

(John Walton/PA Images via Getty Images)

Playing golf successfully and getting the outcomes you want require having a great deal of confidence. Easier said than done, especially when you have been far from best for a stretch.
Take Lilia Vu, for example. With her first LPGA win in February at the Honda LPGA Thailand, she quickly followed up four starts later at The Chevron Championship with her first major title. For Vu, the season was looking bright.
However, after that victory at the Chevron, the 25-year-old missed four cuts in her next five starts. But entering the 2023 AIG Women’s Open, Vu knew what was needed to get back to the top.
“I thought at the U.S. Open, after I played so bad, I didn't know if I could ever win again,” she said. “I think I came into the week with a good mindset. My team and I talked about just trying to be in contention on the weekend, and that's all I could do.”
With a 72-68 to start the week at Walton Heath Golf Club just south of London, Vu turned it on over the weekend with two rounds of 67. She had 13 birdies combined in the third and final rounds, and you could once again start to see that confidence from earlier in the season returning — especially in the last round where she only needed 25 putts!
It led to her capturing a second major title of the year at the AIG Women's Open by six shots over Charley Hull, the first female player to win two majors in the same year since Jin Young Ko in 2019, and the first American woman since Juli Inkster (1999). Vu will also become World No. 1 as of Aug. 14, an amazing climb from her position outside the top 100 from last year.
Safe to say, Lilia has her confidence back.
One of my favorite games to help students gain their own on-course confidence is one that gets them comfortable with going low.
Step 1: Forward Tee Scramble
  • Play two balls on every shot and choose the best of the two as your ball to score. Play from the furthest up, or shortest tees at your home course.
  • Ideally, play this game in the evening, or first out in the morning. This way you can keep a good pace. Playing this game at least once a week will help you in gaining confidence in your ability to go low.
  • Set a score goal to reach. Once you have achieved that goal, move on to step No. 2.
Step 2: One Ball From the Forward Tee
  • Play ONE ball as your ball to score, and play from the furthest up, or shortest tees at your home course.
  • Set a score goal to reach. Once you have achieved that goal, move on to step No. 3.
Step 3: Move Back
In this final step, you will repeat steps 1 and 2 as directed but just from one set of tees further back. You can also modify this game for younger golfers or higher handicap adults by making par 5s, 4s, and 3s a specific shorter length, such as 350, 250, and 100.
The idea behind this on-course confidence game is to get golfers comfortable with playing better, making birdies and gaining self-belief. I often see young competitive golfers getting into a position during their round where they play very well, perhaps even having a career day, and then they blow up. That outcome happens because going much lower than usual is sometimes just as mentally taxing as having a bad stretch.
Good things will start to happen when that confidence builds during on-course play. Lilia Vu is an excellent example of how close a golfer can be to great things, even after a slump. It just takes confidence.