Let’s take that marginal gains approach to improvement and ponder how many little things you can incorporate to make a BIG change to how great you feel and how great you can play!
Firstly much of this will be obvious and seem inapplicable to golf. But stick with it. Golf mirrors life and the way we react to certain situations on the course reflect how we take on our day to day lives.
Be the best version of you. We all hear the whole “life is too short” message constantly reverberate about social media and from family and friends but it is not until something big turns your world upside down or ruffles your feathers. Only the do we stop and think, hang on maybe I need to change elements of my day to day. Maybe I need to not feel so tired and not be so cranky. Maybe I just need a spring in my step and to be able to think clearly.
Maybe these brief pointers can help...
Healthy life habits: Sleep
Sleep is golden and preparation is key. If you sleep well you recharge, your body repairs and you function physically and mentally more efficiently. Aim to get to bed at a certain time and stick to it. Ban the screen at least an hour before bed, opt for paper not iPad. Screens drain our energy mentally leaving it unlikely that you’ll effectively remember what you just read.
There is a natural rhythm to reading a physical text, turning pages and the tactile quality of holding a book or magazine is grounding. I could write a whole article just on this but try it. Opting for the physical copy of Golf Monthly can be your first port of call on this. Your mind will switch off quicker and your quality of sleep will improve. Take advantages of the amazing deals at the moment and subscribe now for your hard and digital copies.
A few helpful tips. Get a decent pillow. Adopt an effective sleeping position for your needs. If you shrew yourself up in a tight ball with elbows crunched up you aren’t sleeping in a relaxed position at all. If you suffer from any aches and pains (golfers or tennis elbow in particular) this position will aggravate you further. Lying on your chosen side, place a thin pillow between your bent knees and stretch your arms down to meet your knees. You’ve aligned your hips and can sleep soundly here.
We all need to drink more water. Again I can go a whole morning just on coffee and wonder why I can’t think straight by the afternoon. But being dehydrated has consequences. You are slower to think and act. Try placing a bottle of water in the car, by your bed to drink when you wake, on the side by the front door and a glass by the fridge.
I actually keep a water tally now on the fridge door. But if that glass wasn’t there I’d forget to do it. Set your water stations up the night before and keep them topped up. Your body and mind will thank you for it. Drink on the course too. Pupils have said to me if I drink on the course I need a wee all the time. Think of a pot plant that has totally dried up. If you water it the water runs straight through and out the bottom. This is a dehydrated you. Drink little and often and you’ll soon find you don’t need to go as often.
Eat fresh, the fewer ingredients the better. Try and avoid sugar at all costs. Opt for natural snacks. Golf bag snacks can include granola bars, nuts and not Haribo. Food groups that steadily release energy will help you avoid surges of energy then the energy deficit that usually follows a Mars bar. For some ideas on improving your diet check out our guide to the 10 best supplement and sports nutrition products for golfers.
Exercise little and often. You don’t need to book in long winded classes, HIIT type workouts to get your heart rate up, a few days a week, will be sufficient to get those feel good endorphins flowing. Just MOVE! Once you’ve got into it you’ll want to keep going, taking that first step is important. Find something you enjoy and stick with it, again put it in your diary like a business meeting. Stretching rejuvenates the body and mind, here are some of the best stretches for golf.
Focus on exercise that is building you a strong base (glutes, legs and abs) This translates to a more stable impact position and more consistency in your golf. If you’re fitter you can keep focused for longer. Your golf improves and oh wait, you will feel EPIC.
End of day clear out. Free writing and journaling before bed is such a great way of letting things go. Reflection time and writing down to help clear the decks each day can have a hugely cleansing effect on your mind and soul. What is worrying you, what are you grateful for, what might you do tomorrow you didn’t do so well today?Letting everything flow into a handwritten journal or notebook will help you achieve more faster when it comes to the following day.
From a golfing perspective it is something I encourage pupils to do following each round. This helps to really pinpoint problem areas and helps them let go of the bad shots and consolidate the good areas. From a coaches point of view I can see looking at said golf journal, where we need to prioritise improvement. This gets results fast.
Walking and talking
We all know the value that headspace holds, a chunk of time to just mindlessly stomp your legs. While the journaling at night is important to just let your mind have its say and flow with whatever it needs to get rid of, this is a more focused time where you have a specific thing to ponder and a problem perhaps to solve. We all love a good catch up with somebody we haven’t see for a while and this is a great space to reconnect. Plus you can bounce your problem off of another pair of ears.
Yes you walk playing golf, but there’s the added focus on where the white dimply thing is going. Without the ball I’d say you can tackle bigger issues.
I actually give many a golf lesson as a walk and talk session. We pick somewhere scenic so we are feeding our souls as well as our minds. We discuss that person's game and life. Whilst we walk the issues and hang ups in that persons golf flow out far clearer than when they are also concentrating on hitting a ball. It’s more a mindfulness session with golf searing through the structure of it.
Learning how to breathe properly is a life skill that should be taught in schools (it is in my daughter's primary school). Having the power to be quiet in your mind and body, letting go and calming down can be applied to so many scenarios in life as well as on the golf course.
Mindfulness and mediation is essential to being in control of your own reactions and feelings. A really simple way to breathe well is to practice Rectangular Breathing. Take a scorecard for example. Breathe in for the short side and out for the long side, repeating for a good few minutes. This will calm your heart rate and your racing mind and see you able to control any anxiety or worries fast.
Working even just one of these seven pointers into your life will make you feel energised and in control. Translate this to the golf course especially one that makes you smile, and you’ll be well on your way to a better game. New habits don’t need to wait until 1st January to be adopted. Why wait? Life really is short and you only get one go at it so make it count.
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Katie is an Advanced PGA professional with over 20 years of coaching experience. She helps golfers of every age and ability to be the best versions of themselves. In January 2022 she was named as one of Golf Monthly's Top 50 Coaches.
Katie coaches the individual and uses her vast experience in technique, psychology and golf fitness to fix problems in a logical manner that is effective - she makes golf simple. Katie is now based on the edge of the New Forest. An experienced club coach, she developed GardenGOLF during lockdown and as well as coaching at Hamptworth Golf Club she freelances, operating via pop-up clinics and travelling to clients homes to help them use their space to improve.
She has coached tour pros on both LET tour and the Challenge Tour as well as introduced many a beginner to the game.
Katie has been writing instructional content for magazines for 20 years. Her creative approach to writing is fuelled by her sideline as an artist.
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