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The Importance of Golf’s Mental Game

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man getting instruction on golf swing

The AT&T Pebble Beach Pro-Am is not just a test of golf skills—it is also a test of mental strength while players compete at Pebble Beach Golf Links and Spyglass Hill Golf Course.

Laird Small, Director of Instruction at Pebble Beach Golf Academy & Practice Facility, has worked with some of the top players in the game—among them Tim Kite, who shares the AT&T Pebble Beach Pro-Am course record at Pebble Beach Golf Links with David Duval (10-under-par 62).

Laird shares his insights about golf’s mental game and a vital tip about conquering the highs and lows of an emotional round:

“There is so much talk about the Mental Game—especially what is it and how it helps players both on the golf course and in life. One of the terms we hear is mental toughness, which means the ability to keep your focus when you’re playing golf.

One needs to stay focused, whether you’re playing well, facing a difficult shot or playing poorly. This applies for both the AT&T Pebble Beach Pro-Am players and amateur golfers. It’s probably more important and more challenging to stay focused when you’re playing poorly; it’s much easier when things are going your way.

The rules of golf do not mention anything about the mental game. I don’t think the ball knows about the mental game or the clubs, and I don’t think it really cares! The ball only knows how it was struck. With that in mind, what are the triggers that take us out of our comfort zone? Why do we get nervous, have negative reactions or find our emotions traveling faster than our intellect?

The emotional landscape can be a wonderful descriptor. We bounce from negative, high-energy emotions (extreme anger when a shot doesn’t work out) to low-energy, negative emotions (when we are depressed or having a bad stretch of holes, and feel like our round is slipping through our fingers).

Conversely, we also experience low-energy, positive emotions (where we are calm and nothing seems to bother us) to high-energy, positive emotions (when we hit a great opening drive, make a birdie to win the match or shoot our lowest score). These things all happen and can bounce around the emotional landscape from shot to shot.

Where we really want to be is neutral; choosing to respond to the stimuli that golf and life throw at us. Keeping that mental toughness will provide you with greater success and more fun on the golf course, no matter your skill level.”

For more golf tips and to take your game to the next level, visit the Pebble Beach Golf Academy & Practice Facility or call (844) 477-4393.

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AT&T Pebble Beach Pro-Am

1700 17-Mile Drive, Pebble Beach, CA 93953


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