Golf Mental Game Tips to Improve Performance

Bobby Jones said it best about the golf mental game "golf is played on a 5 inch course." Every movement you make in the golf swing is controlled by your nerves, which are connected in part through your brain.

Golf can become a complicated sport if you let it. Too many times you can focus on mechanics and allow it to conflict with your ultimate goal of getting the ball in the hole.

Yes, there is a time and place for mechanics but when it's time to take your game to the course you will need an effective golf mental game to play to your potential.

In a recent study done by St. Andrews University and a group of U.S. scientists on golf psychology, "80 golfers were given shots to practice until they got it right. The golfers that discussed their putting between strokes took twice as long. They concluded that too much analysis made the golfer's game worse."

In Bob Rotella's book, "The Golfer's Mind," Bob speaks about his encounter with Sam Snead at a speech he delivered to the staff of Golf Digest Schools. Snead a winner of 82 PGA Tour wins is considered one of the game's greatest.

Snead struggled a couple of years during his tenure and after sitting in on Bob Rotella's speech in his latter years, Snead spoke up and told Bob he wished a guy like Bob was around during the years he struggled.

During the years Snead was successful he would go to bed the night before a round envisioning to himself playing the perfect round in his mind. He would often play several holes in his mind visualizing hitting perfect shot after perfect shot until he fell asleep.

It wasn't until after a couple of rounds that he started to miss putts and lose confidence. In result, Snead started over analyzing his putting problems.

To stop over-analyzing shots you must change your focus to what you want to accomplish, and only what you want to accomplish. If you can focus more on the target and less on mechanics, your chances of pulling off successful shots are greatly increased.

A great way to enhance this experience would be to focus more on your Pre-Shot Routine. An effective Pre-Shot Routine allows you to follow Pia Nielsen's recommended process outlined in her book "Every Shot Must Have a Purpose."

Following her routine will help you to visualize your shot in the thinking box and execute the shot in the execution box. The concept is simple and very effective.

To learn more about the Pre-Shot Routine and its effectiveness visit pre-shot routine.

A recent article written in Golf Digest about brain research revealed the importance of target orientation in certain situations. Debbie Crews who conducted the research, applied EEG sensors to the brain and found that with an "effective state of mind, high handicappers with poor technique can excel despite lousy mechanics."

The more you increase your focus on your target the less likely your mind is to become the culprit in missed shots. When using a pre-shot routine, your mind will be more at ease getting you from point A to point B.

In addition to the importance of target orientation, your thoughts and actions are extremely important to tame.

Learning to control your thoughts and actions will be the best free golf mental game tips you can get in understanding the factors of the game that you can or can't control.

Some examples of things you can control are:

  • Thoughts
  • Attitude
  • Reaction to shots (good or bad)
  • Your equipment
  • The amount of time dedicated to practice

Some things that can't be controlled are:

  • Weather
  • Course conditions
  • Your score
  • Playing partners' attitudes and reactions
  • Unfavorable bounces
  • Playing partners as competitors

To help with increasing your focus and developing a plan for your golf mental game follow these tips:

  • Plan your shot and commit to the shot before you swing
  • Believe in yourself
  • Understand the things you can control vs. things you can't control
  • Treat each shot with a purpose
  • Play within your ability
  • Practice with a purpose to overcome future pressure situations
  • Play each shot one at a time and count the score at the end of round

If you can start focusing your thoughts on factors that are within your control and make an effort to keep yourself positive then with these golf mental game tips you are going to see a difference with your scoring.

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Bo, I wanted to thank you for your help so far with my golf game. I wanted to let you know that I shot a 75 the other day in a tournament round, my best round ever. I had 32 total putts and NO 3 putts. I definitely couldn't have done that before. Thanks again and I'll be back in touch soon to get some more lessons lined up.


Bo I just wanted to tell you about another tournament I played in. I went out and played and shot a 75 which is one of my best rounds this year so I think everything is coming together. I've been making alot of birdies lately and just wanted to thank you for everything!

Adam Mikhalko

Hey Bo when I got back from camp I played really well I’m putting great and I’m hitting the ball well. Thank you for everything at camp.


Hey Bo!!! I have been playing my best in golf, mostly because of you!!! two days ago I shot an 80 in my club tourney and came in 3rd place.

Brandtley Taylor

I played in a tournament when I got back from camp and shot 76 and came in fourth. I feel much more confident on the course with my mental thoughts. I used the tips you wrote down on that sheet and they have helped me alot.

Freddy Weber