No More Nervous Nellie: How to Keep Calm and Dominate the Course Before it Dominates You
Arnold Palmer once quipped, Golf is a game of inches. The most important is the six inches between your ears.” In fact, the great Bobby Jones once said, “Competitive golf is mainly played on a five-and-a-half inch course – the space between your ears.”
There are many examples in history where professional athletes have let their nerves get the best of them and affect their game. One standout example would be that of Aussie Legend Greg Norman, but let’s not get into that today. Recent examples have shown that in order to play your best game, you must first be able to manage your mental state.
As was the case at the US Open, where Bryson Dechambeau totally came undone in his final round. Dechambeau, who was attempting to defend his second US Open title, started the day on the right note coming close to a hole-in-one on the eighth, even going as far as 30 consecutive holes without a bogey. Dechambeau was only one shot behind the leader when things started to go terrible due to the ample amount of pressure. Two bogeys and a double-bogey on holes 11-13, and a quadruple bogey on No. 17 saw Dechambeau finish his final round at 6-over 77, including an 8-over 44, which saw him finish 26th at 3-over.
Another example is Louis Oosthuizen, who began the final round as one of three leaders left frustrated and disappointed after another runner-up finish. The South African, who started the final round as one of three co-leaders, shot even-par 71 at Torrey Pines South Course to finish at 5 under for the competition. Oosthuizen’s fate was sealed at the par-4 17th, which saw him pull his tee shot into the canyon, forcing him to take a penalty stroke, leading to a bogey.
“Look, it’s frustrating. It’s disappointing. I’m playing good golf, but it’s not – winning a major is not just going to happen. You need to go out and play good golf,” he said. “I played good today, but I didn’t play well enough.”
Here are some tips on how to better manage your stress and improve your golf game
It’s possibly the most crucial part of any game; It’s always important to warm up before teeing off. Try and spend some time warming up to get all of the bad swings out before getting started. Spend some time on the range, batting cages and putting green to settle the nerves and remember to loosen your back and shoulders.
- Positive thinking
Remember: We’re here for a good time, not a long time. Bringing to mind why you’re out on the course can play a significant role in cultivating a positive attitude towards golf. To play better golf, you first must feel better.
- Be quick to forget
It’s important to remember that mistakes do happen. Bad shots happen, getting plugged in the bunker happens, not making it past the red tees…happen. Do not dwell on the negatives. Always think forward about your next shot and how you can improve your round moving forward.
- Take a Break
You should never forget that stress is not just mental but also physical. By adopting some general breathing exercises (slow deep breaths), you can slow your heart rate right down. Repeat this process several times, and your stress levels should begin to decrease, putting you in a more focused position.
- Chew Gum
Several studies have been done around the effects that chewing gum can have on your brain. This study found that those who chewed gum had reported significantly lower levels of anxiety and depression compared to those who didn’t chew gum. Believe it or no, but this can relate to your game as well.
Golf is so much more than what happens from the tee to the green. It is a mental game that can you learn to master in your mind before ever swinging a club. Remember, this game resembles a road trip where the goal is the journey and not necessarily the destination.