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The Tour Report
  • Mental Game: Defeat nemesis holes

  •  Kevin Stadler won despite a thorny double bogey on the par-4 11th. (Greenwood/Getty Images) Kevin Stadler won despite a thorny double bogey on the par-4 11th. (Greenwood/Getty Images)

Do you have a hole on your home course that has your number? Do you psych yourself out every time you play it?

Don’t feel bad -- Kevin Stadler has a nemesis hole at the TPC Scottsdale., the 11th hole.

Kevin said that this hole always gives him fits. With water on the left and extreme desert on the right, the 11th hole is a tight driving hole, with trouble everywhere. On Sunday, he hit it right again (as he did on Saturday) and his ball found a thorny grave. He had to take an unplayable as well as three-putted and ended up with a double bogey. Luckily for Kevin, he does not have any other nemesis holes on the back nine. He played well enough to win the Waste Management Phoenix Open, his first win on the PGA TOUR.

Even the greatest players in the world can talk themselves into playing poorly on a particular hole. Perhaps the 11th hole does not fit Kevin’s eye and this causes him to feel uncomfortable. This, in turn, has led to poor results. A downhill struggle now has developed.

Luckily we can flip that mental game process. If you can talk yourself into playing poorly on a hole, you can also talk yourself into playing well!

The same mental game principle goes for loving a course. Phil Mickelson has shared how much he loves Augusta National. This is one reason for his huge success there.

It is really that simple. You can convince yourself that you do not like a certain hole, or certain course, and that it does not fit your game. In turn, you game will suffer. Or, you can tell yourself how much you like a course, and enjoy the holes. You can always find something positive about every hole on a course. In that case, 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. Inquire about coaching as well as get your autographed copy at www.drgreggsteinberg.com