Golf's Mental Routine

To start with, I’m a result-based reptile brain person who truly performs better if I let the result be just a result and perform a mental golf routine that focuses on what's important for me instead.

Some golfers successfully incorporate the result into their shot making process but I don't.

My mindset/attitude (what I tell myself playing golf) is that I’m very kind and try to enjoy the game as much as I can but still have an achievement spark that isn't result based (read this blog post to understand more). My experience is that this attitude with zero result actually performs a lot better results than saying "today you are going to shoot a low score" or something similar.

By the way, my name is Petter Tärbe and I write heavily researched content for Snöleo Golf Academy. I'm a former decent scratch player and coach that loves everything about golf. I've spent an unhealthy amount of time investigating and studying the game and love to pass on what I know.

My Mental Routine / Shot Making Process

What shot to hit?

Spoiler alert. I play a push draw 95 % of the time. It doesn't need to be that fancy. Stick to what you know and half the battle is won.

Ok, check the lie, the wind, the pin position, etc. Find a shot that fits this.

Starting Line, intermediary target and ball flight

I won't try to get too detailed here. Some people say that you should aim small to miss small but I much prefer to keep it roughly right. It frees me up. Tom Watson said that he sees American football goals that he tries to hit through. That’s roughly how I do it.

Stand behind the ball, find an intermediary target 30-100 cm from the ball and then visualize the rough shape of the shot.

Rehearsing the feels / swing thoughts

My practice has created feels. These feels produce my swing. My swing produces the result. My focus is on the feels. I practice them once or twice behind the ball in the target line before creating my goal and entering the shot.

I play with what I call “light internalized thoughts that are roughly right”. It’s like a mechanical thought but I have made it abstract through training, with the result that they have become feels. Normally I play with two thoughts/feels: one for the backswing and one for the follow through.

My swing thoughts (that turn into feels) are in the areas of my swing where my brain is "available". Personally, this is the backswing and follow through. The transition, downswing and impact is a "mental blur" for me so swing thoughts in the back swing and follow through have the biggest potency.

Creating the goal

I tell myself that performing my feels to the best of my abilities is the only thing that matters. Results come later. Just perform them and you're good (nice to yourself, remember).

Again, a comment about the statement "aim small to miss small". I know that I can make birdies form multiple locations if I just perform a functional swing. Why create a mental prison which "forces" you to be perfect and likely will hinder you to perform your technique. In my opinion some legends have played the odd round where they place the ball within 2 meters on every approach. They are legends and have done it on occasion through a full career. Is it fair to assume that you will do this? Some people would probably argue this is a "weak attitude" but I don't. Again, I'm more average than tour player in skill level but I would assume that most reading this would benefit more from creating a mindset that frees them up rather than going all clinical on the goal setting. This frees me up and if it helps you, then great.

Entering the shot

I aim my club face at the intermediary target, take my stance and get comfortable.

Perform the feels/swing without any hesitation. Do the best I can, Nothing more. Nothing less.

This is my demand on myself. I perform my feels on every shot I play. No excuses.

Exiting the shot

So, the shot is done. Now all I can do is learn. I tried to do my best in the swing and I’m happy about that. That was my goal.

The result. Well, if it’s good then awesome. If the outcome is not what I intended, then I need to address how I can tweak my feels to improve.

Learning and tuning my feels

Your swing will change from day to day and sometimes from hole to hole. I usually have a rough understanding of what I’m doing that day and try to alter my feels to correspond with the ball flight.

As mentioned I can only have swing thoughts in the backswing and follow through. If something is off, I can now turn to these areas to maybe tweak my feels a bit.

Then, step out of the bubble, and enjoy the lovely game of golf. Rinse and repeat.

Summary of the Mental Routine

Tailor make your process to fit your personality and you're setup for success. Match the process towards your attittude of the game.

I play golf to have fun and it fits to take the result out of the question.

Tinker with it. If you get it right, you WILL shave loads of shots off your score.

Good luck!

Wish to Read More? 

Snöleo Golf Academy Overview Page - Here I write deeply researched articles about anything golf. Some examples below.

How the Transition in Golf Works? Different Swings, Different Transitions

Consistency in Golf? The Perception of Control

The Slingshot Golf Swing - The Modern Power Swing

The Hogan Golf Swing - Ben Hogan’s Foundation Explained

The Old School Swinger Golf Swing - Nicklaus then and Scheffler now

The MORAD 86 Golf Swing - Mac O’Grady’s Legendary Swing