How To Control Your Anger On The Golf Course

If you want to control your anger on the golf course, these tips could help you enjoy the game more...

Control your anger on the golf course: Man upset with a bad putt
Our 8 top tips will help you feel more in control of your anger on the golf course...
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We have all seen moments on television where elite professionals have lost their cool, and while it can occasionally be quite amusing, the fact is you won't be a very popular playing partner if you can't control your anger on the golf course. 

Perhaps you don't realise, or maybe you don't care, but it can be quite uncomfortable for others if you petulantly throw your club after a bad swing or spend the walk from the tee box to your ball whinging about the slice you can't seem to shake.

It's time for a reality check - golf is hard. It won't always go your way, and remembering that might be the secret to shooting lower scores. If you are reflecting on your own on-course behaviour, and want to make a positive change, here are eight ways to move in the right direction...

Get some perspective

Jon Rahm reacting at a LIV Golf event

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Answer me this... why do you play golf? I'd wager that it's because you consider it a hobby, and hobbies are supposed to be enjoyable. For most golfers, the impact of a couple of bad shots in your round is minimal in the grand scheme of things, and while a double-bogey might be damaging to your scorecard, it isn't the end of the world.

If you were a journeyman pro, who needed to make that putt to provide for their family, I could certainly understand an outpouring of emotion. If you are upset because you missed a three foot putt for par in your midweek Stableford, I have slightly less sympathy for grand displays of feeling. I suppose the key message here is have fun and enjoy the highs and lows of the sport we are so privileged to play.

Laughter is the best medicine

Jordan Spieth laughing on the golf course

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Laughing at yourself is a sign that you don't take your game too seriously, and can actually make the general experience more enjoyable for everyone. It can actually be quite therapeutic after that untimely shank to have a chuckle to yourself and move on. This will also help your playing partners to feel at ease, as nobody likes that awkward silence following a poor shot. For the sake of your own game, and the sanity of others, try it out next time you make a poor swing on the golf course.

Remember your last good shot

Sora Kamiya hitting a tee shot

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A common psychological flaw is dwelling on your last bad shot, not your last good one – something that feeds in nicely with the glass-half-full attitude of most golfers. So next time you miss a two-footer, remind yourself that such instances are rare; next time you top a drive, remind yourself that you haven’t done that for two rounds.

Even the best players in the world hit awful shots – think Tiger Woods pulling his opening tee shot into a lake at the 2006 Ryder Cup, Webb Simpson at the same event in 2014 or more recently Justin Thomas making a quadruple bogey nine to miss the cut at the 2023 Open Championship.

It will continue to happen, but it’s how you respond that counts.

Give it a thumbs up!

Matt Wallace giving a thumbs up on the golf course

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Many of you will have seen the amusing video, produced by the DP World Tour, featuring some anger management classes for some of the top golfers on the circuit. One of the interventions suggests a thumbs up to the ball, perhaps sarcastically, when it doesn't behave the way you would like.

Clearly the original content was in jest, but I believe the idea has traction. When you don't quite read the green correctly and your birdie putt runs six feet past the hole, pause, breathe and give it a nice thumbs up. You'll get it on the way back. 

Your actions affect others

Matt Fitzpatrick lets go of golf club after swing

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If you’ve never been affected by someone’s behaviour on the golf course, it’s probably because you’re the person making others feel uncomfortable. We’ve all been in a group where the atmosphere has been soured by someone’s temper, and it does affect the mood. Respect your playing partners by keeping things convivial. They have come for a fun day out, not to play in silence.

Outburst bucket

Lady biting putter in anger

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Every time you have an angry outburst, put a pre-defined amount into an outburst bucket. Or, better still, donate that amount to the captain’s charity. And make sure it’s an amount that means something to you. You’re not going to change if you’re a millionaire who’s donating 20p every time you commit a misdemeanour.

Treat yourself

WM Phoenix Open Fan Shop

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Got your eye on that new driver? That’s good. You can have it if you behave yourself for three rounds. Every time you slip up, you go back to the start. Simple.


When can I drink at my golf club

(Image credit: Golf Monthly)

The tried and trusted. Hold all your angst in until the halfway hut, then proceed to down a couple of beers. You’ll almost certainly play better afterwards. Well, maybe you won’t, but you won’t be as bothered about your poor play!

Nick Bonfield
Features Editor

Nick Bonfield joined Golf Monthly in 2012 after graduating from Exeter University and earning an NCTJ-accredited journalism diploma from News Associates in Wimbledon. He is responsible for managing production of the magazine, sub-editing, writing, commissioning and coordinating all features across print and online. Most of his online work is opinion-based and typically centres around the Majors and significant events in the global golfing calendar. Nick has been an avid golf fan since the age of ten and became obsessed with the professional game after watching Mike Weir and Shaun Micheel win The Masters and PGA Championship respectively in 2003. In his time with Golf Monthly, he's interviewed the likes of Rory McIlroy, Justin Rose, Jose Maria Olazabal, Henrik Stenson, Padraig Harrington, Lee Westwood and Billy Horschel and has ghost-written columns for Westwood, Wayne Riley, Matthew Southgate, Chris Wood and Eddie Pepperell. Nick is a 12-handicap golfer and his favourite courses include Old Head, Sunningdale New, Penha Longha, Valderrama and Bearwood Lakes. If you have a feature pitch for Nick, please email with 'Pitch' in the subject line. Nick is currently playing: Driver: TaylorMade M1 Fairway wood: TaylorMade RBZ Stage 2 Hybrid: Ping Crossover Irons (4-9): Nike Vapor Speed Wedges: Cleveland CBX Full Face, 56˚, Titleist Vokey SM4, 60˚ Putter: testing in progress! Ball: TaylorMade TP5x