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March 17 2013

10:29 PM

Mental Game: Focus on the process

Kevin Streelman focused on the process of winning, not winning itself. (Greenwood/Getty Images)

By Dr. Gregg Steinberg, Special to PGATOUR.COM

Kevin Streelman stated that his mental strategy for this past week was to not think about winning and let go of results. This ironic approach worked as Streelman won the Tampa Bay Championship presented by EverBank by not worrying about winning.
   
Thinking about outcome, such as your score or winning a tournament, creates higher levels of anxiety in our games. Take the analogy of a construction worker who works 1,000 feet in the air and must walk across a plank to get from one site to the next.  If the construction worker looked down and thought about how high he was (the outcome), he would get extremely nervous and be more inclined to fall. However by focusing on placing one foot in front of the other (the process), the worker wouldn’t get nervous and could easily walk the beam.
   
Streelman stated that his focus on the process and not the outcome gave him a sense of peace on the course. His mental approach allowed him to navigate the Copperhead course and the “Snake Pit” with a calm state of mind. A sense of peace and a calm demeanor are essential ingredients to performing your best under pressure.
   
While you may never be in the hunt in a PGA TOUR event, this “letting go of results” strategy can apply to your golf game. How many times has your score affected your emotions on the course? When your score was terrible did you get upset or frustrated? Or, on the contrary, when you were playing amazingly, did you begin to get nervous because you were thinking about your best round ever?
   
Like Streelman, you will find peace on the course and gain greater control over your emotions when you let go of results. Here is my mental game recommendation in this regard:

Play a round of golf without keeping your score. Your task is to think only about the shot at hand, not to be concerned with how many over or under par you are at the time during the round. At the completion of the round, you would then recall your score on each hole. Or better yet, play with a friend who keeps your score.

You will find that this approach helped you to keep your emotions and your game under better control.  Once you have tried it once, begin to incorporate this approach as a regular strategy.

Yes, it is very difficult to not think about your score. Yes, it is fun to play for a score. But if results-oriented thinking is giving you too much anxiety and frustration, then this is the approach to implement into your game. When this happens, you will begin to find your peace on the course as well as your best game.

Dr. Gregg Steinberg is the author of the best selling golf psychology book, MentalRules for Golf. He is a regular guest every Tuesday on “Talk of the Tour” heard on the Sirius/XM PGA TOUR radio. Dr. Gregg is a tenured professor of sports psychology and has been the mental game coach for many PGA TOUR players.  You can see more about him at www.drgreggsteinberg.com, and you can e-mail him at mentalrules24@msn.com for any comments or questions about your mental game.

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