5. Calm and collected

Stay calm and collected. Easy to say, hard to do. Like many other skills this skill needs to be trained and you need to know how to train it if you want to apply it to your game. Apply it to you game via the pre shot routine and make sure your pre shot routine contains what is needed to be calm and collected. Next chapter will tell you what to do and how to do it.

The opposite of being calm and collected is to be nervous or even angry. Control you brain and your thoughts. That will bring you a long way. Do it by deciding what you want to think about, at different points during the golf round.  

Remember, you decide what you want to think about nobody else. You can think of a nice short even when you just had a bad short. You can think of a great short even when something or somebody is trying to distract you. First thing you need to do is to realise that your emotional state is not exactly where you want it to be. You want to be 100% ready to make a great stroke every single time you stand over the ball. The opposite would be sloppy, and it would create disappointment, lack of focus bad results and consequently distraction. Therefore, you need to be aware of your focus. The question is if you are focused or distracted. Distracted means that you are unable to collect the data needed for your next golf shot. You need lots of data to make a good stroke: Wind, other players whereabouts and readiness, grass length and direction, slope where you are standing, slope for the trajectory of the ball in the air, grass & slope for the spot you ball will land etc. You are only able to collect the data if you are calm and collected. If anxious, angry, talking, thinking, sad, disappointed, or otherwise distracted you will not be able to collect the relevant data and that will affect you shot. 

If focused and in a good mental state where you feel good and confident. You will be able to not only collect the data needed but also to make the best shot you got because your mind is exactly where is needs to be when doing the shot. 

As mentioned, the first step is to be aware which mental state you are in. If you are 100% ready for doing the shot – great. If you are distracted – get focused. You do that by getting into the mental state of your own choice. NLP (Nero Linguistic Programming) works with several mental states. The following are relevant for golfers, and you will be able to access the good, desired states when you have read the instruction. It is not difficult. 

  1. General Desired State, GDS
    1. This state of mind will give more energy and focus. It will simply take away the distractions and make you focus on golf. You can use it to increase your motivation and tension. 
  2. Greater Than Self, GTS
    1. This state of mind will give you a great feeling which is not connected to golf at all. It will take you mind of golf when you need it.
  3. General Relaxed State, GRS
    1. This state of mind will make sure you are relaxed, and your mind is at peace. You can use it to stay calm and collected. 

General Shitty State, GSS refers to mental states and feelings like nervousness, anxiety, anger, disappointment, frustration, irritation etc. These are states that take your focus away from golf. There are many reasons why GSS cannot be used for golf one reason is the fact that GSS disables you from collecting data. When in GSS your body and mind is ready for fight or flight, and you become very narrow minded. Golf requires a brain which is focused.

5.2. Inner calm or monkey brain

Some people have a hard time sleeping because the monkey brain is turned on. Same thing is true for some golfers. The brain is out of their control. See the chapter “50000 to 80000 distracting thoughts a day. The monkey mind” 

Thoughts and emotions go haywire and that is not good for golfing. Why not take control. Here is how.

Exercise 1: GDS, The Good State, turn of the monkey brain

Think of a situation that made you happy. You may see a picture when you think of the situation. Notice what you see. Remember at least three details from the picture. Moreover, note what you hear in the situation. It might be silence. In fact, many golfers notice a distinct silence and relief just after they did a great shot. Finally, observe what you feel. It might be joy or happiness. Maybe you feel a smile around you mouth and eyes or joy in your gut. If it is a golfing situation you could maybe feel the impact or the rotation in your body. Some people do a fist pump and say yes when they just had a great golf stroke. Just like Tiger Woods. 

What happened here? You decided to do exercise 1 or you decided not to do exercise 1. If you engaged in the exercise, you were not able to think of anything else. Meaning, your monkey brain and unwanted thoughts were brought to a halt, and you got into the good state. General Desired State, GDS is the term that is used for the good state when working with Neuro Linguistic Programming, NLP. 

5.2.1 Anchors

Anchors are the smile around your mouth, the smile around your eyes, the fist pump, the “yes” you say, the good feeling of joy, the sound you hear in the situation, the image you see when recalling the situation, the actual position of the image which for me is up 20 degrees and right 10 degrees. Where is this position for you?

Collect at least five anchors and you have established your good state of mind which you can recall when you want it. Train and recall the GDS whenever you have the chance. 

What you see, hear and feel is very personal, and it is very much connected to the situation. As mentioned, we call these memories for anchors. Train your five anchors and do the exercise again and again. Exercise will make your anchors and your good feeling stronger and stronger. Use it when you play golf, get a better mental state and therefore better scores.

Please think about what just happened when you did the Good State exercise. You forced your brain to think of something which then became your full focus and you blocked out all distractions. The process was like this:

  1. Awareness:
    1. You realised that you wanted to think about a good situation. 
  2. Decisions:
    1. You decided that you wanted to think about a good situation.
    2. You decided which situation you wanted to recall.
  3. Thought:
    1. You changed your thoughts and focused on the memory of your choice. 
    2. You stopped the monkey brain and controlled your own thoughts and mental state. 
  4. Body posture changed.
    1. Did you notice that?
    2. Muscles in your back moved if you straighten up a bit.
    3. Muscles moved if you changed your breath.
    4. Small muscles in your face changed if you smiled just a tiny bit. They change around your mouth and around your eyes.
    5. Are you able to feel the difference in the muscles?
  5. Mental state changed:
    1. How does that feel?

5.3. Routines at the golf course for better mental golf game

Five routines will make sure you enter the mental states you want to be in when playing golf. Pre-Shot Routine, Post-Shot routine, Between-Shot routine and the “Wait routine”.

The “Pre-Shot routine” is use by all professional golfers but you can also watch other top professional sports people use mental routines. 

Viktor Axelsen won the 2021 Olympic medal in badminton, and it was obvious that he used anchors and Good State during his game and especial during his final where he ended up on the top of the podium with an Olympic gold medal around his neck. 

On the other hand, you don’t have to be professional to gain from the mental strategies. Maybe you just want to have more fun and better handicap. Ambitions can range from very high to very low. It is your choice where you want to be. This goes for your golf, for your personal life and for your job. The question is, what is your target?

Imagine yourself walking down the fairway, you are approaching the ball. Where is your mind? Do you have a “between shot routine” that makes sure your thoughts are at the right place? Now you enter the space behind the ball you are about to strike and your pre shot routine starts. After the shot you do your “Post Shot Routine” and then enter your “Between Shot Routine” again. Now you walk towards the green where you see your ball. You start your pre shot analyses and later enter your “Pre-Shot Routine”. 

This may sound very serious or complicated to you. If so, then pick out the bits that work for you. It all depends on the level you want to reach. 

The next chapter will go through the four golfing routines.