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Golf Performance Anxiety


By Anne McAndrews

Whoever said golf was a mental game was only half right: it’s an emotional journey too, too.   Here’s how to keep your mind clear and your game on track when you encounter the on-course scenarios that unnerve you most.

Your heart is racing, your blood pressure rising, your palms clammy.   But wait, no one is handing out report cards; no stern English teacher is slashing your paper with red ink; no one’s pressuring you to ace an exam.   It’s not your grade point average putting you on the edge – it’s Golf Performance Anxiety, a completely different type of GPA.   It arises from real or imagined sources – a member of your foursome who talks too much, for instance, or insecurity about some aspect of your game.   GPA can sabotage your swing – or, in extreme cases, make you want to flee the course.

“All golfers, whether they’re LPGA pros or beginners, experience anxiety, and it stems from two sources; fear of what others will think of us and our own internal judge,” explains Joseph Parent, a Ph.D. in Psychology and the author of Zen Golf: Mastering the Mental Game.  (Joseph hosted one of the golf sessions at Women Business & Golf in 2000.)

The difference is that pros possess the keys to managing GPA.   They’ve learned from experts like Parent – and others we’ve gathered here – whose stress-building advice can turn even the worst mind trip into a personally gratifying journey.   “Sometimes the toughest challenge in golf is to climb out of your head and into your heart,” says teaching pro Lynn Marriott, co-owner of Coaching for the Future, whose clients include many tour professionals.  “You have to remember the basic reason you’re out there – because you love the game – and let positive emotions be your guide.”

So listen to what our panel of mental coaches, pros and physiologists have to say.  They’ll help you comfort your golf demons and clear your head so that you can swing and enjoy the game.


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