During a round of golf, there are many things going on internally (your thoughts) and externally. If you let any external factors or the wrong thoughts take up your mental space, it can be detrimental to your performance. Motivational speaker, Brian Tracy, says “You become what you think about most of the time.” This is very true in golf and in life.

If you focus on outside factors like the people in the crowd, what will happen? You will become distracted from the task at hand – preparing for and taking the next shot to the best of your ability. If you overthink the wind, yardage, pin placement or hazards what will happen? You will cripple yourself and are likely to doubt yourself with too many thoughts running through your head. Focus on taking good quality shots. A good rule of thumb is to focus on the things you can control. Of course you need to account for factors like wind, yardage, pin placement and hazards but overthinking these things will usually cause problems.

Imagine three stick figures: One stick figure is thinking all positive thoughts, the second stick figure is thinking all negative thoughts, and the third stick figure isn’t thinking much of anything – the lights are on but no one’s home. Which stick figure is likely to perform the best in a round of golf? We can eliminate figure two immediately. But a lot of people are surprised to find that figure one is not far behind figure two. Generally, the best performer will be figure three: the clear thinker.

To become a clear thinker of the golf course, go into every round knowing what to focus on – the factors in your control. You can evaluate your performance after every round you play or better yet, every hole and then make mental adjustments accordingly. Evaluate your mental game with these types of questions:

  • Did I go through a consistent pre-shot routine?
  • Was my shot strategy smart?
  • Did I react to distractions?
  • Did I second guess myself?
  • Did I “let go” of the shot as soon as I hit it and move on?
  • Did I maintain composure (not showing anger or frustration)?
  • Did I take any lazy swings?

Develop the habit of evaluating your mental performance based off factors in your control like these and you’ll be well on your way to improving your golf game and your thinking overall. Negativity and worrying only distract and drain mental energy. Focus on the factors in your control on the golf course and in life.