Performing at Your Best When the Chips are Down


Life, eh?!  It throws curve-balls at us all, be they minor annoyances or major dramas.

One of the great beauties of the game of golf is that it reflects, in a very benign way, many of the trials and tribulations presented by the game of life.  It’s a great leveller.  It reminds us that control is an illusion; a transient, fickle friend.

Just as with life in general, how we deal with difficulties on the golf course, our attitudes and reactions to adversity and to success, play a huge role in determining how successful we will be – and how much enjoyment we will get from this great game.  It defines us.

Golf is not fair, and you need to play the ball as it lies.


The weather and the condition of the course on any given day are beyond your control, and constantly changing.  One day the wind is gusting and playing havoc with your distance control, and on another the greens have just been hollow tined and putting takes on a whole new challenge.

On some days we’re feeling under the weather, or tired and lethargic.  On others we’re champing at the bit, excited and ready to tear up the course.

This is all normal, to be expected.  No matter what the course conditions, the weather, or your demeanour, you’re a golf nut, just like me, and here you are on the first tee again.

The key to playing your best golf, no matter what the circumstances, is to accept the situation and adapt – leave your inner control freak at work!


Grip down on the club and swing easy.

That’s it.  The secret.

Even when you’re not at your best physically, or when things are stacked against you, you can still play some great golf.  Just be smart, play strategically, and try to strike the ball solidly.  Form a game plan that takes the circumstances you’ve been presented with into account, and stick to it.


Do not try harder!

Most golfers play, or have played in, other sports.  Sport is part of the typical golfer’s DNA.  But unlike most other sports, especially team pursuits, you can’t succeed by virtue of your work rate.

Golf is a mental game with a crucial physical element, and your proficiency at that physical skill on any given day is almost entirely dependent on your mental skills.

Trying harder, getting angry or upset, letting frustration pump your adrenaline, all of these will just make things worse.  You don’t need to push yourself, you need to get out of your own way!


Many of our students have played some of their best ever golf when they were sick or suffering from injury.  They were forced to take it easy, physically, to make less effort.

You must learn to change your game plan, and your philosophy, depending on the circumstances.

When things aren’t going your way, forget about the score and just focus on striking the ball well with each stroke.  Fire up your imagination and revel in becoming the ultimate tactician, outwitting the course and plotting your way through the round.

Enjoy the conditions, golf is a test.  If the wind is gusting, it’s a different test, and a great golfer will rise to the challenge, hitting a lot of knockdown shots and bump-and-runs.


Adapt.  Play smart.  Play strategically.  Strike the ball as well as you can.

Play great golf.

Remind yourself how lucky you are to be here, play the hand you’re dealt, and enjoy the game.

Just like in real life.

Happy fairways!



» Think Like a Champion – Master Golf's Mental Game.


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