When Jordan Spieth was asked on Bloomberg Business television network how he handled the intense Masters Tournament pressure putts he replied, "I just tried to have an imagination."
The art of visualization and getting your brain involved in the process of golf have been studied by psychologists, performance coaches and instructors because, as Bobby Jones once aptly stated, “Competitive golf is played mainly on a five-and-a-half-inch course...the space between your ears.”
In order to learn how to perform at my highest level during a round of golf, I have been reading the book, "Performing Under Pressure: The Science of Doing Your Best When It Matters Most." Psychologist Hendrie Weisinger, Ph.D and performance coach JP Pawliw-Fry explain the debilitating effects that pressure has on your game and also provide strategies to overcome those stressful moments.
In one chapter, the writers discuss several solutions to pressure situations, one of which is to lessen the importance of the situation and another which is to focus on the mission.
Going back to the Spieth interview, here is how Jordan said he beat Augusta National:
"Ultimately, you really have to focus on the hole. You can't think of anything like looking at the scoreboard, don't think about it being for birdie, for par...it doesn't even matter. The point is you have to think about the read, get the speed and just pretend you're hitting another putt on the practice range."
Sounds like Spieth already read the book...
Another pressure solution from the book which Spieth put into play? Recall you at your best.
Golfers usually make great shots at the practice range/putting green as there is all confidence and very little pressure. Try putting a few of those successful "makes" into your memory bank for your next game!
For the average golfer who jumps out of his car and bolts for the first tee, Spieth's tips are easier said than done. Instead, we read books, we watch the greatest golfers on the world's stage hoping to take away a bit of their magic for our next round. If you are interested in exploring the science behind rising to the occasion, Performing Under Pressure may help you do your best when it matters most.
How Do You Deal With Pressure on the Golf Course? Join the Conversation on Twitter @Golf4Beginners and let us know on this Golf for Beginners blog!
photo credit: The Mindful Golfer infographic found on visual.ly