By Dr. Josh Brant, Golf Performance Center
Score is Not the Answer
As a Clinical and Sports psychologist, I have worked with countless golfers seeking to reach new heights in their game. While the majority of players tend to fixate on shooting lower scores, I firmly believe that placing a greater emphasis on improvement rather than immediate results is the key to long-term success. In this article, we will explore the rationale behind this approach and how it can lead to significant improvement in a golfer’s skills and mental game.
Embracing the Journey
Golf, like any sport, is a journey of continuous learning and growth. Players who focus solely on achieving lower scores may become frustrated or disheartened when results don’t come as quickly as they’d like. In contrast, adopting an improvement-centric mindset allows golfers to appreciate the process, enjoy the challenges, and relish every small step forward.
Shooting lower scores may bring temporary satisfaction, but it often neglects the underlying weaknesses in a golfer’s game. By prioritizing improvement, players can address fundamental flaws in their technique and mental approach, leading to more sustainable progress. As these weaknesses are resolved, a golfer’s overall performance is elevated, and lower scores become a natural byproduct of their enhanced abilities.
Reduced Performance Anxiety
The pressure to shoot lower scores can create immense performance anxiety. This anxiety, in turn, can hinder a golfer’s ability to think clearly, execute shots with precision, and maintain composure during challenging situations. Focusing on improvement shifts the focus away from immediate outcomes, allowing golfers to concentrate on their development without the burden of excessive pressure.
Enhanced Mental Toughness
Golf is as much a mental game as it is a physical one. When golfers emphasize improvement, they cultivate mental toughness, resilience, and the ability to bounce back from setbacks. This psychological fortitude becomes an invaluable asset during competitive play, enabling players to stay calm and focused even when faced with difficult rounds or adverse conditions.
An improvement-oriented approach empowers golfers to set realistic and attainable goals. These goals can be skill-specific, such as improving accuracy off the tee or reducing the number of three-putts. By breaking down the journey into smaller milestones, golfers can stay motivated and celebrate their achievements along the way.
The Joy of Mastery
Golf is a game of precision and finesse, and mastery of its intricacies is a lifelong pursuit. Golfers who dedicate themselves to constant improvement experience the joy of mastering new skills and techniques. This sense of accomplishment provides a deep sense of fulfillment that extends beyond the momentary satisfaction of shooting a low score.
Transferability to Life
The lessons learned from an improvement-focused approach in golf are highly transferable to other aspects of life. Perseverance, dedication, resilience, and goal-setting are all valuable qualities that can positively impact various areas of an individual’s life outside of the golf course.
While lower scores are the ultimate objective in golf, placing undue emphasis on them can hinder a golfer’s progress and enjoyment of the game. By prioritizing improvement, golfers can embark on a fulfilling journey of self-discovery, skill development, and mental fortitude. This approach not only leads to better scores in the long run but also enriches their overall experience on and off the golf course. As a psychologist, I encourage all golfers to embrace the path of improvement, for therein lies the true essence of golfing excellence.