How Professional Golfers Mentally Prepare

We sat down with Coach Gary Gilchrist and interviewed him on how his professional golfers mentally prepare for a tournament.

BUILD CONFIDENCE  If you really want to peak at a certain time, it starts way before a tournament and with my Pros, it starts before the season even begins. It’s important to build the confidence needed to go out there and play up to one’s potential. There are different areas one can build confidence, fitness is a great place to start.  Getting healthier, stronger and generally feeling good about yourself is a major confidence booster.   

Another way to build confidence is by simply taking a break.  Find the time to rest, spend quality time with friends and family, and overall maintain balance in life.  Sometimes what restores a player’s confidence is focused time with their clubs. For example, most recently Lydia Ko needed to get comfortable with her equipment again to build confidence.

SET GOALS  Once you’ve restored or built up your confidence, then it’s time to set some realistic goals.  There are two types of goals: outcome goals and process goals.  Coming off of many wins, like Ariya Jutanugarn did this past season, it would be best for a player to focus on process goals so that outcome goals can be achieved again.  Meaning, they would reflect on their past season and how they achieved their successes.  For Pros like Jutanugarn, it’s going back to their game and really focusing on their strengths.

DISCIPLINE  Mental game is so much more than attitude and discipline breeds success. It’s important that mentally you are going through your routines and you have a great plan of practice and drills.  It isn’t the amount of time you practice but the quality of your practice that counts.  So be disciplined in your practice and smart on the course.

PLAY TO WIN  In today’s game, you’re either playing to make cuts or you’re playing to win.  If you’re playing to make cuts, or just appearing to play, then anything can happen and your game is a gamble. If you’re playing to win this means you can’t second guess yourself and you need to be aggressive on the golf course.  When players second guess themselves, they tend to play it safe – too safe. Suddenly instead of hitting it to ten feet, you’re hitting it to 20-30 feet and that can bring in 3 putting.  When this happens their focus shifts to the consequences causing them to play a defensive game and the outcome tends to be a reflection of the players focus.  Aggressive playing means you are playing to smart targets.  Say to yourself “I want to win a tournament” or I want to have a Top Ten finish” – then you’re going to have to play like a Top Ten player – and that means you always prepare to win.