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May 6 2013

2:45 PM

Mental Game: Embrace every course

Phil Mickelson remained positive in unusual conditions, which helped his score. (Lecka/Getty Images)

By Gregg Steinberg, Special to PGATOUR.COM

The greens at the Quail Hollow Club were below par for a PGA TOUR event because the weather this spring in Charlotte, N.C., was cold and damp and clearly did not favor this type of grass. Putting on bumpy greens can beat you up mentally.

Or you could take a completely different approach, as Phil Mickelson did.

Mickelson declared his admiration for the course, even making the statement that Quail Hollow was one of his favorite courses on the globe. He thoroughly loves this venue.

I believe this thinking directly led to his great play at the Wells Fargo Championship. Mickelson putted beautifully, leading the field in strokes gained-putting and starting the tournament making 41 for 41 putts within 10 feet. While Mickelson did not win, he held the lead for most of the tournament and finished in a very respectable third place.

A declaration of love (or great admiration) for a course can help your play. Like Mickelson did, you are psyching yourself up to play well — regardless of condition or difficulty. Joy of a course can help expel any excessive feelings of anxiety. Ultimately, you are transforming adversity into an enjoyable challenge.

Let’s take the flip side. How many times have you been psyched out of a hole by telling yourself how much you dislike that particular hole? A dislike for a hole decreases the joy while increasing the stress you will feel, usually leading to a poorer score.

I know it is easy to find something wrong with every course you play, but I would highly recommend that you expand upon Mickelson’s lead. Talk yourself into enjoying every golf course that you play. Find something about the course that you really admire. Perhaps it’s the piece of property and its beauty, or its unique par 3s.

When you make every course your favorite, you will enjoy the course even more because you played so well.

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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