#3 crucial questions to ask yourself before you compete

“A great round of golf starts in the parking lot.” ~ Theo Bezuidenhout

 Great rounds do not start on the practice green, the chipping area or the driving range. In fact, I firmly believe that many of your best rounds are created by your frame of mind before you even step onto the first tee-box. You don’t believe me? 

How many times have you seen the player who was nearly late for their tee time play a career round? Or when was the last time you heard of a golfer having his or her most enjoyable round when they were still busy arguing on the phone with a spouse or partner just before they teed it up? 

I’d bet not many times, if any… 

You see the mindset that you take from the “outside world” onto the course dictates a lot of what happens when trying to put a good score together. Thus, I want to encourage you to do a simple intention exercise before you even get out of the car or walk into the clubhouse. This is to ensure that what happens before you play does not interfere with what you want to achieve on the course. 

Here are #3 crucial questions to ask yourself before you compete. 

1. “Why am I here?” 

Simple answer, right? To play golf. 

But what about the NB email you need to finish, the report that’s due tomorrow or the exam that you are writing next week? 

Often thoughts of things you “need to get done” creep into your mind and distract you while on the course. This unfortunately inhibits your ability to play your best golf. 

Clarifying “EXACTLY why you are playing THIS round of golf” prevents these irrelevant, distracting thoughts from sabotaging your round and serves as a way to keep you focused during tough shots or holes. Consider the following scenarios:

I had no chance to practice during the week?  The intention can simply be: “I am here to enjoy today and see how it goes.” 

Stressful day at the office? “I have an opportunity to enjoy the outdoors and get my mind off work.” 

Any statement that can re-focus your thoughts when the distractions come up will work very well and it might even become your mantra during a well-played round! 

2. “Why do I play the game?” 

Answer: To shoot the lowest or best possible score. 

Another easy one right? 

Have you thought that answer through though? 

In golf, more than in any other sport we deal with varying degrees of “failure” on the same hole (never mind the same round). And we can all agree, no one enjoys failing! 

Therefore, another aspect I want you to mentally clarify every time you play is “why do I put myself through this in the first place?”. 

Golf is hard! And if you do not have a firm hold on why you play… through the rain, the cold, the bunkers, the failures and the array of emotions every round presents, then you will soon be chewed up and spat out by the hardest game there is. 

Sounds dramatic? Yep, that’s what I was going for… 

As the famous psychiatrist and Holocaust survivor, Victor Frankl, once remarked: “A man who has a why can bear with almost any how.” Sometimes you just need to remind yourself of exactly what your why is before the first tee shot to play your best golf. 

3. “Will I accept the challenge of the day?” 

“Expectations kill more great rounds than bad shots ever do.” ~ Theo Bezuidenhout 

The reason for this is that we often are naïve about what we “have in the bag” on a given day and how that translates into performance. Not even the pros have the same exact shape and ball-flight every round. So, what makes them so good?  Their ability to adjust. 

How does this play out practically for you on the course? 

If you are facing tough conditions, for example a prevailing wind into you for the day, accept this and adjust. The conditions aren’t going to change, so you have to. Do not lament the poor conditions and how you have so much more distance to cover with your approaches. 

Rather, “accept + adjust”. This could mean: 

  • Expect longer second or third shots into greens.
  • Focus on what this challenge is teaching you and how you can learn from it.
  • Make sure that if you miss greens you are missing them in positions where you could potentially “up-and-down” from.

 “Accepting the challenge” will definitely be more useful for you and your game as opposed to letting the bad conditions ruin your day on the course altogether… 

To recap, here are #3 crucial questions to ask yourself before you compete. 

1. “Why am I here?”

2. “Why do I play the game?”

3. “Will I accept the challenge of the day?” 

This will help mentally prepare to play your best golf. The more you practice this the better you will get at: 

  • Cutting out distracting, non-relevant thoughts
  • Not letting the natural ups and downs of the game derail you
  • Being able to “accept + adjust” like a PRO!