How To Build Confidence In Golf

Mental golf expert Gary Leboff teaches you how to trust your inner self and achieve lasting results

confidence in golf

You’re not born with confidence – it’s something you have to practise. Mental golf expert Gary Leboff teaches you how to trust your inner self and achieve lasting results

How To Build Confidence In Golf

Golfers have a fragile relationship with confidence.

Absolute belief in their game is swiftly shredded by a couple of bad swings.

Throw in a missed three-footer and confidence is transformed into complete doom and gloom.

A great deal of nonsense is talked about confidence.

Most sportsmen and women have no idea what it is, how to get it or even how to hold on to what they already have.

The desperate need for confidence has given rise to widespread ignorance and misunderstanding.

So what is confidence? Fundamentally, confidence is a relationship of trust between you and you.

confidence in golf

Not many have been as confident as Tiger Woods was with a putter in his hand

One of the great myths about confidence is that you are either born with it or you are not.

I cannot overstate the damage created by such a facile misconception.

No wonder so many golfers lacking confidence fall into despair.

Such people may even be highly accomplished in other areas of life.

Despite their achievements in business, finance or other areas, golfers facing a challenge on the course will often think about similar situations in which they’ve failed.

When I ask if such an approach would work in any other walk of life, clients smile at their own stupidity.

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Confidence on the golf course boils down to this – trust or doubt?

There is no middle ground – you cannot trust yourself 99%. Faced with a tough shot, golfers either trust or doubt their own ability.

Trust Yourself

Confidence is a muscle and it has to be worked.

Confident people practise trusting themselves, especially under pressure.

Anxious golfers become so used to doubting their ability, they don’t even notice it happening.

How golfers look back on their rounds can also be devastating to self-confidence.

Human beings are hard wired to repeat what we see in our minds.

The images we replay in our heads send a message to our nervous system – ‘more please’.

confidence in golf

Focus on and remember your good shots, not your bad ones

Instead of focusing on highlights, golfers tend to wallow in heartache – drives in the bushes, putts that lipped out etc.

One of the key things I teach golfers is how to go back through their round, select the best tee shot/iron/pitch/chip/putt and replay successes.

Bad shots are simply ignored. And what does confidence do?

The purpose of confidence is not, as many believe, to control the outcome.

The purpose of confidence is to give yourself the best chance of success.

No actual proof is needed. After all, if confidence could only be generated by results, no one would ever be a first-time winner.

If you wait for results to believe in yourself, you may wait a very long time.

Confidence Demands Action

High achievers in general experience the same reversals, setbacks and disappointments as anyone else – but they refuse to relinquish their underlying self-belief.

Confidence comes first.

Confidence is not just a state of mind. Confidence demands action.

Watch Rory McIlroy the next time he’s playing badly.

While Rory’s instant response to a bad shot may be to thump the ground in frustration, what he does not do is far more instructive.

confidence in golf

Watch how confident Rory McIlroy is on the golf course. (Photo by Stuart Franklin/Getty Images)

How many golfers struggling for form let their heads drop and spirits plummet? This is no coincidence.

Sports psychologists know it is far easier to become negative when your head is down.

Lowering the head provides space for ‘internal dialogue’, the voices that say you are useless, worthless.

Retaining an upright posture and keeping your eyeline at flagstick level silences these voices almost immediately.

Confidence is NOT mysterious, fickle or elusive.

Confidence is a SKILL to be learned.

And like any other skill in golf or in life, practice is essential.

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Elliott Heath
News Editor

Elliott Heath is our News Editor and has been with Golf Monthly since early 2016 after graduating with a degree in Sports Journalism. He manages the Golf Monthly news team as well as our large Facebook, Twitter and Instagram pages. He covered the 2022 Masters from Augusta National as well as five Open Championships on-site including the 150th at St Andrews. His first Open was in 2017 at Royal Birkdale, when he walked inside the ropes with Jordan Spieth during the Texan's memorable Claret Jug triumph. He has played 35 of our Top 100 golf courses, with his favourites being both Sunningdales, Woodhall Spa, Western Gailes, Old Head and Turnberry. He has been obsessed with the sport since the age of 8 and currently plays off of a six handicap. His golfing highlights are making albatross on the 9th hole on the Hotchkin Course at Woodhall Spa, shooting an under-par round, playing in the Aramco Team Series on the Ladies European Tour and making his one and only hole-in-one at the age of 15 - a long time ago now!

Elliott is currently playing:

Driver: Titleist TSR4

3 wood: Titleist TSi2

Hybrids: Titleist 816 H1

Irons: Mizuno MP5 5-PW

Wedges: Cleveland RTX ZipCore 50, 54, 58

Putter: Odyssey White Hot OG #5

Ball: Srixon Z Star XV