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April 16 2013

8:44 AM

Mental Game: Stay cool like Scott


Scott focused on one shot at a time during his Masters win. (Redington/Getty Images)

By Dr. Gregg Steinberg, Special to PGATOUR.COM

Golf places you on an emotional roller coaster. When you play extremely well, feelings of euphoria can ooze from your smile. On the other hand, poor play can instantaneously change you into a disgruntled golfer who believes all the bad breaks have gone your way.

Your best golf is played between the extremes of emotional intensity. While most articles on the mental game focus on reducing anxiety and curtailing your anger, getting too pumped up can also be disadvantageous to your game.  Luckily for Adam Scott, the 2013 Masters champion, he was able to keep his intensity level under control.

After Scott made that marvelous putt on the 72nd hole for birdie, he became enormously jubilant, clenching his entire body with joy and then, he gave his caddie a power high-five. Scott believed he had just won the tournament, but it only lasted for a few moments, as he then saw Angel Cabrera make an amazing birdie to tie him at 9-under par. 

At that moment, Scott knew had to get his intensity level back to normal so he could control his swing. If not, his adrenaline could act as a powerful stimulant and throw his swing out of sequence, as well as cause him to hit his irons much farther than usual (which can lead to devastating results at Augusta National).

As the golfing world saw on Sunday, Scott got cool, calm and collected for the playoff and went on to win his first green jacket.

While I know it is fun to make that Tiger fist pump when you make a birdie or long par putt, allowing yourself to get too pumped up can seriously deflate your golf scores. Your game is susceptible to the emotional highs the links may bring. Here are a couple suggestions to remain in control of your emotions like Masters champion Adam Scott:

1) Emotional awareness is the first step to emotional control. If you just made three birdies in a row, you might have immense adrenaline flowing throughout your body. If you feel your heart rate racing, you will need to calm down.  Take some deep breaths. Also slow your pace down one notch to counterbalance your excitement.

2) Be wrapped up into the moment like Adam Scott. The 2013 Masters champion mentioned that he was not worrying about being the first Aussie to win the Green Jacket, only focusing on the current shot at hand. When you are caught up in your score, your emotions will follow. When you are thinking about the present shot, your emotions will stay in control.  

Golf is a game of emotional control. The better you master this skill, the more in control you will have over your scores.

Dr. Gregg Steinberg is a regular guest every Tuesday on “Talk of the Tour” heard on the Sirius/XM PGA TOUR radio. He is a tenured professor of sports psychology and has been the mental game coach for many PGA TOUR players.  Dr. Gregg is the author of the best selling golf psychology book, MentalRules for Golf, and you can get your autographed copy at www.drgreggsteinberg.com.

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