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The Importance of the Mental Game

I can preach the different ways working on your mental game can help you shoot lower scores, or enjoy the game more. But if you walk away from reading about the mental game and still put most of your focus on your swing and other physical game aspects, then I haven’t done a good enough job emphasizing the importance of the mental game.

It’s essential that you have things in their proper place. You could set out to practicing your way into a good attitude. Or attempting to get your swing so perfect that you can always accept the outcome of the shot because every shot is perfect. But we all know these things are unattainable. So you absolutely have to work on your mind before working on your physical game.

I’ve been playing competitive golf for over 15 years, and for 13 of those I spent tirelessly pursuing a good physical game, with no attention paid to my mind. No real attention paid to my mind. Yes, just like almost every other golfer I know, I read some books and tried to apply the techniques that the books laid out. But it wasn’t until I went about completely overhauling my perspective on the game of golf that I finally saw real improvement.

It was such an old habit, focusing on my physical game as the cause for my struggles. So it wasn’t an overnight fix to change 13 years worth of behavior. I had to introduce daily practices over the course of more than a year before I saw any kind of difference. But difference I saw.

What I realized was I need to relinquish control over the results. To let go of my perfectionism. To accept whatever happens, good or bad. Everybody’s self-reflection will reveal different things. You may realize that you’ve always given golf too much importance, or not enough. You might find out that your expectations of yourself require a much higher level of effort, or you simply need to lower your expectations. You might find out that you’ve never really trusted yourself and your abilities.

Yes, once I had my own realizations, I practiced just as hard on my physical game. But instead of making my physical game the foundation and trying to build things off of that, I flipped it upside down. I got my mind right, and I was able to build my physical game on top of my mental game so much easier than the other way around.

Don’t wait until you have your game where you want it, your technique perfect, your putting finally at the level you’ve always strived for. Get your mind right, your perspective adjusted, and your priorities in the right place, then get to work on your physical game. You don’t realize until you’ve done it and you’re on the other side, but take my word that working on your mental game first will allow you to improve your physical game faster and reach a higher potential.

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