Mental Toughness


I went from 2 to scratch with increased course management and patience.

Its all mental.


Loving this thread. Your mind is by far more important than any other piece of equipment, yet so few golfers actually spend considerable time or effort to improve this side of things. (myself included, up until this season)
I feel like I normally keep my attitude in check, I seem to move on easily after a bad hole. I don’t officially tally my scores mid-round, although I am guilty of knowing how many shots over par I am, and thinking “I’m on pace for a 78” or “I just need a birdie-par finish”.

Other areas I struggle with, and would appreciate if anyone had some tips that helped them:
I seem to be thrown out of focus by a few things. 1. Hot, humid days when I start to struggle with keeping my hands dry. 2. High noon on a sunny day when they sun is casting a sharp shadow line across my ball. (this may be the worst one for me. Especially when the ball moves from shadow to sun as I swing. Goes way inside my head) And 3. Wind gusts as I am about to hit or in mid swing.

My decision making is getting better, although I am still suckered into some terrible ideas when standing on the tee. I find that planning ahead works best. Deciding I’m taking a safe line on 14 before the round even starts, regardless of what the wind is like, and how I feel when I get to the tee. The bigger problem for me is decision making when I am out of position. I have a hard time taking my medicine, and to often I try to ‘pull something off’.

Strokes gained thinking needs to be a stat.


My buddies make fun of me for it, but weight lifting chalk. I keep some in a ziploc in my bag and if my hands get sweaty I chalk up. I have super sweaty hands and it feels like the club will slip out of my hands if I don’t. Problem solved.

Or you can go the @Soly route and wear your rain gloves.


Essential for any Florida golfer, I keep one bottle in my cart bag and one in my walking bag.


Just to play devil’s advocate here, I like knowing where I stand during a round and equate it to leaderboard-watching. I don’t feel like there’s any right or wrong way to go about this stuff as it’s all a matter of your personality type. I passed my PAT for the PGA two years ago and knew where I stood the entire way. I shot 73 in my first round and 75 in my second round to pass by 7.

That entire second round I played extremely safe and made sure the absolute worst score I could make on a given hole was bogey. Anytime I’d have had a fairway wood into the green for an approach, I went wedge-wedge instead so that it was impossible for me to have a big miss and go into water, have to take an unplayable, etc. I never would have gone about that round in such a manner if I was ignoring my score.

Like I sort of eluded to in the beginning, I know that’s not a method that would serve everyone well and I understand why. Currently I’m in the process of trying to shoot even or under par in an 18-hole round for the first time and I’ve been thinking about changing this approach, as hard as that might be to do. I’ve shot 9-hole rounds as low as 33, have at least four 73s that I can think of, but for some reason haven’t been able to go 72 or lower for a full round.


+1 to this. I’ve played to below a 3 index for the past 10 years and STILL shit all over my mind when my shadow is cast over my ball. The movement of the swing just screws with me, and I never know how to battle it. Honestly, I think about the routing and how many more of these damn shadow shots I have to hit.

Please, help us, we’re desperate!


the trick to breaking par, for me, was learning to watch what pins i go after. And knowing your miss.

For me, a miss is likely going to be pretty straight and wont draw. I play about a 4 yard draw. So if it doesnt move, i make sure my aim is in a safe spot on the green. Youll make birdies this way, and avoid short siding yourself. Youll miss a few greens, but they should be in really easy spots to get up and down.

tl;dr dont try to make 18 birdies to break par, try making 18 pars.

Edit: last nights nine holes for example, i hit 4 greens, birdied the two toughest holes, and doubled a par 5 on my way to 36.


For me breaking par was as simple as a single focus entering the round. My strength is off the tee and general ball striking so evaluated my putting and found I missed putts short and high (aka, fear of 3 putting). It took some time but started hitting putts aggressive and taking break out and made more “makable” putts. Since then I break par a few times a year.

Basically, take the worst part of your game and quit pretending what you are doing is working and do something different with it, in this case it was all mental and has worked for 4 or 5 years now.


RE #3 on the wind. This varies a lot by where you live, but I think most golfers vasty, vastly overestimate the effect of wind.

Now, if you’re playing a lot of golf in Texas/Oklahoma, or Scotland, or Hawaii YMMV.

But in general I find that for the most part, I only really worry about the wind if it’s blowing into me and there’s trouble short where I absolutely don’t want to miss short.

If you are a pro and you know your carry distances down to the yard and you are good enough with your irons that you expect to hit good shots, then by all means worry about what direction the wind is coming from. But for even pretty good weekend players, it just doesn’t matter that much. If you happen to hit your iron pure, you’ve probably made good enough contact that the wind won’t effect it. If you don’t make good contact, then what the wind is doing is really of secondary importance at best.

I’m a 2 handicap (granted my iron play is the weakest part of my game, but that’s typical for an amateur player). If you’re playing on a very windy day, obviously, you have to consider the wind. But that might mean a day where it’s so windy that you’re actually playing knock down shots and that sort of thing. Beyond that, I truly don’t worry about it. Maybe if I’m between clubs, all other things being equal, I’ll let the wind decide. But I’m still going to consider where the better miss is, how I’ve been hitting it, and how the ball is lying first.


I usually feel decent about my numbers with wind, I take my time and think through a proper club selection.
For me the bigger issue is feeling like my balance is off when the wind is flapping my pant legs, or when I feel a gust pick up right as I am pulling the trigger. I trust my numbers, I just find myself uncomfortable over the ball.


Not trying to be a troll here, but I completely disagree with your thoughts on the wind. Personally, I feel the wind is one of the if not the biggest element to consider for club selection. Of course, if the wind is negligible (5 mph or less) then sure, I agree with you. Living in Kansas/Missouri area, this is never the reality. Hitting into or down wind of a 8-10 mph breeze, that is a full club at least. Light cross winds do not impact the shot as much, but it is certainly there.

For example, on my course the wind is fairly well protected by a cliff and trees on this 480 yard dead flat hole. I always play one club less or more even if I cannot feel any wind whatsoever. Cannot tell you how many times I have had a 165 yard 9-iron that sales the green when it feels like a simple light breeze. My stock 9-iron is 150ish.

My thoughts are if you are having trouble getting the ball pin high, consider the wind more. If you are down wind, the ball will spin less, carry farther, and will roll out more then normal. If you are into the wind, take even more club then you think is enough. The ball will spin more (and spin more in whatever direction the ball is falling - more fade/more draw), will carry less, and will have little to no roll out.

Do agree that a well struck shot with negate the impact of a light to moderate cross wind.


Well, I did give myself the out that my statement doesn’t apply if you live somewhere that wind actually blows. I live in Arizona, where we really don’t have wind. We have breeze and maybe it kicks up to 5mph or 10mph on “windy” days. You do need to get 10mph of wind or so before it starts to make a real difference in your shot.

Obviously, the better of a player you are the more of a difference this makes. A better player will hit more shots solid and they’ll be more likely to be affected by the wind, of course. But if you’re not making solid contact consistently with your irons then grinding over the wind direction is a bit of a waste of time.

Overall, my feeling is that I think most people vastly overestimate how windy it is. (Maybe this is less so if they have grown up in places that are actually windy.) I see people all the time talk about playing golf in 30 mph winds. I mean … no. That almost never happens (especially around here). And that’s strong enough wind where it’s not very easy to stand up in, let alone play golf.


This is interesting, because I’ve never particularly had this issue, even on especially windy days. I’ve also never really been bothered by my shadow, which I know is another thing that drives a lot of players crazy.

I don’t know if it would help but one good skill I developed when I was in HS was the ability to basically go blank in the head during my swing. TFE on a recent podcast recently mentioned how when he swings he’ll try to “hear” Pink Floyd’s “Comfortably Numb” as a way to block out swing thoughts or other thoughts (it’s also got a decent rhythm to it). That might be one way of starting to work on it?


The 1st time I broke 70 I didn’t even know I had done it because I wasn’t paying attention to the score at all, I was just working on getting the ball in the hole. The 1st time I shot under par in a tournament it was the same thing, I just wrote the numbers down and at the end there it was, shot -1 for a 2 day tournament, best feeling I’ve ever had golfing. My mindset was not caring about score, just focusing on the shot at hand. It’s cliche, but 1 shot at a time does in fact work.


So, if its not windy, then wind doesnt matter.

Got it.



I think the mental game is the most overrated thing in golf. To the OP, you were playing better than usual for 8 holes and then you went back to the mean after that. Unless you made a stupid decision that led to you making a bad score, it was more likely your swing reverting to the mean. Literally a couple of degrees in your swing can be the difference between a great shot and disaster. Us mortals simply cannot control our swings like pros do.

I vote for fixing/working on your swing instead of working on your mental game 99 times out of 100. If your miss is a push slice and you hit a push slice on the course, it’s not the mental game holding you back. Technique trumps your mental game, almost every time.


I agree with you if you’re talking about beginner golfers. I’m not going to teach my wife the mental side of the game…I’m going to teach her how to swing the club first. But once you have the technical side down to a point where you can hit quality golf shots, it turns into a mental game for sure. For example, I know I can hit a 5 iron 190 yds carry over water…but if I feel uncomfortable over the ball, have bad thoughts, or if I’m not decisive with a swing thought, I will very likely hit it thin or fat or block it or whatever. If I do feel comfortable and am in sort of the ‘zone’, it’s amazing how much easier it is to execute a shot you know you can hit.


I would say for most golfers at the scratch to +2 level, all improvement is mental.


I can hit a 300 yard drive on a straight rope, but I cannot do that every time, regardless of what my mental state is. And that’s because my swing still needs to be improved. And I’m a 5, by the way, so it’s not like I have a terrible swing. I lose maybe a shot every other round from a sloppy mental decision, but every other shot I lose is because of a technique issue.

To put it a different way. My miss is a pull-hook. If I hit a pull-hook on the range, can we agree that it’s not because of my mental state? Because it doesn’t matter. But when I hit a pull-hook on the course, it’s not because all of the sudden I had a mental lapse. It’s because my swing is not good enough to eliminate that pull-hook.


Huh? You think the difference between @thefriedegg (who I think is like a +1) and Dustin Johnson is all mental game?

It’s not. You can still hit the ball longer and closer to your target at any level. If DJ is longer and straighter than @thefriedegg, he’s going to beat him on the golf course, regardless of how good @thefriedegg’s mental game is.