By: Gregg Steinberg, WGCA contributing writer
While confidence is an essential ingredient for successful golf, it is as fickle as an eight-year-old boy in a candy store. One moment he wants to try the sweet Gummy Bears and the next he will gobble up the sour chews. Birdies can give you a sweet air of invincibility while a series of bogeys can make you sour on your golf ability.
As he stood on the 13th tee on Sunday, Fabian Gomez had reached 20 under par at the Sony Open. He knew he had the championship within his grasp.
Then he proceeded to bogey both the 13th and 14th holes. Fabian could have lost his confidence and fallen into a downward spiral of negativity. But instead, he rebounded and finished with an amazing birdie putt on the 72nd hole to finish at 20 under par and into a playoff, which he won over Brandt Snedeker.
Once you begin to lose your confidence, it is difficult to gain that sweet feeling back again. When this happens, it seems as if the game has become your enemy. All you think about is the trouble rather than focusing on the desired result.
Like Fabian Gomez, to play at your best under pressure, you must be able to keep your confidence, regardless of how easily the bogeys seem to be appearing on your card. You can keep your confidence with the following key strategies:
1) Believe that confidence is your choice. Regardless of how badly you
are playing and scoring, confidence is always your choice. You can continually make a statement such as “I choose to be confident” to beat away those negative thoughts.
2) Keep a confidence journal. Every time you had a great round, write
down how you were feeling and thinking. Keep this journal in your golf bag and look at it throughout the round to get a great jolt of confidence
3) Have a golden nugget. A golden nugget is a visualization of a great
shot. Perhaps it was that 5-iron that you nutted last week to three inches. Before the round, visualize this shot over and over again so that when you hit a few shots, you will remember this golden moment and it will boost your confidence.
Centuries ago, the renowned philosopher Rene Descartes wrote that we have the capacity to think whatever we choose. That human truth is the same today. You always have the choice to have a great attitude or terrible one. If you make the right choice, the chances are much greater that you will become the player you always wanted to be.
(Bio: Dr. Gregg Steinberg is a professor of sports psychology at Austin Peay State University. He has been ranked by Golf Digest as one of the world’s greatest sports psychologists and has worked with many PGA Tour players, including Brandt Snedeker, Brian Gay and many more. He is the head sports psychologist for the International Golf Psychology Association. To help your mental game, visit www.masteringgolfpsychology.com to see some free videos and articles.)