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The game of golf demands an enduring vigilance because of its temporal magnitude and general unpredictability. It looks to the uninitiated, uniform and repetitive, but to those who play the game it is a dance on the edge of an abyss. The mental game: Strategies for success in golf are essential if you want to win. We all develop these to some extent, whatever our level of skill or commitment to golf. Keeping our mind free of negative thoughts is pretty important over nearly 5 hours out there on the course. It is not easy and we could all do with some helpful suggestions.

Marcus Aurelius
Marcus Aurelius

Stoicism & Developing Mental Skills

Stoicism is an ancient philosophy that has endured because it works. Two thousand years is a long time to be continuously in print, which is the length of time Marcus Aurelius’ Meditations has wracked up. Greek in origin, Stoicism is so named after the style of building in Athens that housed it. A stoa was a covered walk-way or portico at the side of a building. This mental strategy for living a better life is predicated on using our reason to cope with the ups and downs. Golf is full of ups and downs, in terms of things happening we enjoy and abhor. Our emotional reaction to these eventualities can upset the apple cart in terms of how we meet the challenges of 18 holes over nearly 5 hours.

person grass sport outdoors The mental game: Strategies for success in golf
Photo by Markus Spiske on

Strategic Thinking On The Golf Course

Stop now, and remember those key moments from recent rounds of golf, which have sunk your hopes. Be honest. Take the time to rerun those memories and how your feelings affected your golf. We have all had those episodes, when bad breaks have gone on to torpedo our scores and the remainder of our rounds. I don’t think that I would be alone in, also, having those times, when having just registered a birdie we stuff up the very next hole with a bogey or worse. It is the ups and downs, on the emotional scale, which can negatively impact our performance. This is why many top golfers, tournament professionals, look like they have had a personality extraction. Stoicism teaches us that you cannot ride the roller coaster of emotions and expect to stay balanced.

Our Golf Swing Affected By Our Feelings

The golf swing, as many of us know, is a very sensitive process. You can lose your rhythm and tempo at the drop of a hat. Your elation and your angry frustration both impact on your ability to swing the golf club and putt. Think about how easily putting is affected on those smooth slopes on the green. The energy generated by anger and by elation will find its way into your golf swing. Golf is a game of millimetres; and a good shot can be ruined in terms of outcome if it is too good. Too much energy behind a swing can put your golf ball in the back trap. Golf is a dance on the edge of an abyss. Every time we pull out the driver on the tee, we are dancing with potential danger. A lot can go wrong on the journey that that long shaft makes from backswing to follow through.  How we feel affects how we swing.

Strategies for success in golf - Greg Norman Masters
Greg Norman & The Mental Game at the Masters

Golf Is A Dance On The Edge

You know, I call upon the 10 Stoic principles, or at least 3 of them in particular, in every competitive game of golf I play. Time after time I have to remind myself to use my mental skills to overcome the negative feelings that threaten to engulf me. Golf is played over this huge arena with all these penalty areas and hazards. It is a game of snakes and ladders. We all need to develop a commitment to a set of values that can stand up to the disappointments in golf and life. I have found that you need to practice these mental skills. A Stoic golfer will prepare for every round philosophically and psychologically.

In my new book, The Stoic Golfer: Finding Inner Peace & Focus on the Fairway, I have listed the key principles necessary to win the mental game of golf. You will learn how to:

Develop a strong, clear vision for your golf game.

Let go of distractions and focus on the present moment.

Cultivate a positive and resilient mindset, even in the face of adversity.

Harness the power of visualization to improve your performance.

Deal with setbacks and failures with grace and determination

Find joy and fulfillment in the game of golf, no matter your level of skill.

Wisdom from The Stoic Golfer: Finding Inner Peace & Focus on the Fairway by Robert Sudha Hamilton

Available at Amazon