Be a mastery oriented golfer

by Tom Clark | May 1, 2013

Now that you have set your goals for the golf season, the hardest mental skill to develop is the ability to stay motivated.

Staying focused to achieve greater success in golf, or anything in life, requires some sacrifices and will probably have some bumps along the way.

For instance, many people were very critical of Tiger Woods who, after having his best season in 2001, wanted to make changes to his swing. His coach at the time was Butch Harmon and he wanted Woods to simply maintain his swing as it was. Woods couldn’t stand still and switched to Hank Haney to pursue his quest to improve. We all know he has since switched to Canadian coach Sean Foley. This practice of continual improvement is known as kaizen.

The point is that a player like this is known as being mastery oriented, which as sport psychologists have discovered, will keep their focus and stay motivated in their pursuit to improve. These athletes are more likely to enjoy their sport, be less anxious, be less likely to burn out, and ultimately perform better. There are many recommendations to become more of a mastery golfer but the following are a couple of the more important ones.

Firstly, you must let go of your “score mentality” and develop more of a “learning mentality.” Your score will not necessarily improve immediately after making a change. That doesn’t mean things are not better though.

Many golfers are not willing to make a change because of the fear that their scores will be affected. I always get a kick out of golfers that want a different ball flight but don’t want to change their swing. It doesn’t have to be a total reconstruction but if you aren’t willing to make a change, why would you expect a different result?

Secondly, you must let go of your golfing ego. Allow yourself to look a bit foolish when you are trying a new shot or technique. Don’t worry what your friends will think as they won’t be laughing when they see your great improvement.

Imagine making changes when millions of people are scrutinizing your every move. For Woods, it is thought by many he needed new ideas and new projects to stay inspired, and that kept him energized, even during times he knew many people might be doubting him. He is the ultimate mastery golfer.

Your goals in golf will be much different than a tour professional, but hopefully these ideas will help you to stay focused in your desire to become the best player that you can.


Tom Clark is the head teaching professional at Timberwolf Golf Club and has been a certified CPGA member since 1987.

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