Musing on The 2020 Masters: 3 Takeaways for Your Mental Game

Like everyone else in the golf world, I was thoroughly entertained this past weekend as I watched many of the world’s best players try their best to win a Green Jacket. While I keenly observed their prodigious swings and marveled at their short game prowess, part of me remained on the lookout for subtle clues about what was happening on the mental side of the game.

Of course, DJ played great. And the fact that he overcame the ghosts of poor performances in previous majors undoubtedly made the win even sweeter. But for me, three other things stood out as reminders of what to do and not do next time I have a chance to tee it up.

Here I should emphasize I’m not looking to discover a secret psychological technique that will enable me to win on the PGA Tour … or even win another tournament at my club. I’m looking for insights to reinforce my fundamental purpose for being on the golf course — to enjoy playing, and play as well as I can, in that order.

With that filter in mind, let me share the three elements that leaped off my TV screen during the Master’s telecast:

Rory’s Self Commentary

I’ve got to admit; I’m feeling a bit sheepish writing these words … I mean … it’s Rory McIlroy for goodness sake, and if ever the golf gods crafted a swing on Mt. Olympus, it’s the affable Irishman’s. A relative hack like myself reflecting on what Rory should or shouldn’t do is a bit like making suggestions to Neil Armstrong about how he could’ve done a better job walking on the moon.

Nonetheless, I was taken aback when Rory dumped his tee shot on #16 into the adjacent pond, both by the shot itself and by his self-commentary, “that’s so bad.”

Now again, I’m looking at this from my perspective. I’m a club-level golfer, and I pay to play the game. And although I’m a mental coach, I don’t know Rory personally, so I can’t say whether his self-talk helped or hurt his cause this weekend. But I can say this with certainty … a pattern of negative self-commentary will drastically diminish the average golfer’s fun-factor and often inflate his score.

The lesson: After a bad swing, just shut up. Telling yourself it was a bad shot, or acting like Sir Nick and describing the faulty blow for all to hear, “I hit it fat … I hit it thin … I didn’t keep my head down” embeds a negative belief in your mind. If that belief gets reinforced time and time again, it will prevent you from fully enjoying your round and possibly posting a great score.

Bryson’s Ongoing Frustration

I certainly can’t blame Bryson for feeling bummed out about how things unfolded at Augusta. The clubs he was hitting into greens during his practice rounds had the golf world abuzz, and you wouldn’t need to be Sigmund Freud to conclude that anyone bold enough to suggest his par was 67 wasn’t lacking confidence and fully expected to bludgeon Bobby Jones’ sacred track.

Given his expectations, when things started to go awry during his

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By: Jon
Title: Musing on The 2020 Masters: 3 Takeaways for Your Mental Game
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Published Date: Tue, 17 Nov 2020 19:25:57 +0000


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