Ask an expert: What’s the biggest mental mistake golfers make on the course?

March 17, 2020
Having no thoughts on the course is the most beneficial to your game.

GOLF’s new performance columnist Dr. Greg Cartin is the founder of GC3 Performance Consulting based in Belmont, Mass. He works with PGA Tour players and athletes of all levels and ages. Send your questions to [email protected]

Q: What’s the most common mental mistake you see golfers make?
—D. Rushton, Cos Cob, Conn.

A: This is an easy question to answer but one of the hardest tasks to accomplish as a competitor. In my opinion, the most common mental mistake I see golfers make is assuming they actually have to think a certain way to play well.

Ask anyone what they were thinking when they played their best and the answer you will always get is “nothing” or “I don’t really know.” So why would we try and prescribe a certain way to think when what we truly desire is a sense of no thinking at all? I always counsel my clients that can’t tell them what to think or how to think. But providing them with some insight as to what their thoughts mean (most often nothing) can help to unlock the freedom they need when competing. Acknowledge and observe your thoughts, then return to the task at hand without judgment. The thoughts no longer get in the way and we experience that “no thought” sensation—the only things you need to “think” about next time out.

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