You Can Still Play Great Golf While Being Nervous, Here’s How

This past weekend, Viktor Hovland won the Mayakoba Classic — with a birdie on #18 no less — for his 2nd win on the PGA Tour. But it wasn’t his win as much as how he described his mental game that caught my attention.

In Sunday’s post-round summary, Viktor didn’t recite the usual mantras spoken by almost every Tour winner. In fact, his comments suggested he was able to succeed without getting into a zen-like trance that peacefully and powerfully anchored him into one shot at a time mode. Rather, Viktor said, “I don’t feel like I’m very good in those pressure situations … I was shaking there at the end … I don’t feel comfortable in those moments at all.”

Give a listen to Viktor’s actual words here:

Personally, I found Viktor refreshingly honest. And more. His words shone a light on what seems to be a fundamental tenet of golf psychology: To play your best golf, you must establish a calm and confident mental state and remain there for 18 holes.

It Ain’t Necessarily So

As a mental coach and an avid tournament golfer, I don’t buy it. In fact, I see it as a myth. And as evidence, I point to Viktor Hovland. If a peak performance mental state was essential for success on Tour, there’s no way he would’ve won at Mayakoba. By his own admission, he wasn’t in the zone on the back nine. He actually sounded like a guy who was closer to morphing into Jean Val De Velde than closing the door with a birdie on 18 … especially with Aaron Wise on fire and literally breathing down his neck until the final putt was holed. But despite his nervousness, Viktor got it done. He drained the final putt and walked away with the equivalent of over 10 million Norwegian Krone.

Perhaps there’s more to an effective state of mind than meets the eye …

With that said, let me invite you to consider a contrarian possibility.

Different Stroke For Different Folks

For some golfers, attempting to develop the standard suite of mental skills — becoming more positive, more decisive, more able to lock into your target, and trust your swing under pressure — is embarking on the wrong path. Simply because an approach is right for many players — and endorsed by PGA Tour stars — doesn’t mean it’s exactly right for everyone. In fact, I’d go as far as saying if you’re attempting to incorporate the wrong toolkit into your mental game, you’ll harm your overall golf experience and suck the joy out of tournament play.

Here I’m not suggesting I’ve got a solution for everyone. But if what I’m about to say hits the bullseye for you, what follows could offer you game-changing insight.

You see … if you tend to react to pressure the way Viktor Hovland did this weekend, the key to unlocking your A-game, when it matters most, is using your mind the way he did. To put it bluntly, you’ve got to stop trying to control or refine your mental state and learn how to execute golf shots despite what you may be feeling.

Let me explain by inviting you to reflect on a

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By: Jon
Title: You Can Still Play Great Golf While Being Nervous, Here’s How
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Published Date: Wed, 09 Dec 2020 00:11:45 +0000


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