Golf psychology: confidence

Some words of advice on how confidence plays a part in your performance on the golf course, from sports psychologist Karl Steptoe

Darren Clarke

How many mistakes are you allowed to make? From the reactions I see from many golfers and the way they talk to themselves after poor shots, I am not sure there is a lot of tolerance for anything other than their very best.

Darren Clarke's recent Open Championship win was fantastic for many reasons, not least the reward of years of hard work, but I hope that it didn't go unnoticed that amongst the superb ball striking, accurate driving and deft touch around the greens, were missed putts, uncharacteristic errors and some good fortune!

So even though we are well aware that perfection is not necessary I often see great golf shots met with almost a sense of expectancy; an attitude that suggest 'that's what I am supposed to do'. Any shots failing to meet these levels can provoke a range of emotions and reactions from anger to bewilderment and a desperate need to correct and find immediate solutions.

Such an approach to your golf offers little opportunity to keep confidence levels high for the situations that really demand self belief. The best players in the world have the support and kind words of a caddie, the adulation of cheering crowds and rapturous applause in response to their long drives, miraculous recovery shots and holed putts, how do you maintain your confidence?

I am not suggesting for one minute that you have to run round the 18th green fist pumping like Tiger when you hole the winner in the mixed foursomes but a tap on the shoe with your golf club or a slap on the thigh accompanied by some positive or motivation self talk can be YOUR very own self congratulation that will ensure a healthy perspective of how you are a playing.

Picture your battery three-quarters full when you start your next round. Your job is to increase the confidence level right from the 1st tee; acknowledging each time you have performed well so that it is fully charged WHEN you need it most!

Mind games:

Golf psychology tips

The leading website from the world’s oldest golf magazine, we’re the go-to destination for amateur and keen golfers alike who are keen to up their golfing game. As well as expert course reviews, news and tips to improve your handicap our golf-focused travel content will help you pair teeing off with your travels in some of the best destinations around the globe.