Could some of the greatest golfers of our time actually be hurting their performance and learning capabilities? As golfers set goals and build the motivation to find success, they will likely encounter obstacles towards their pursuit of greatness. However, these motivation killers can be combated. As described in my last article on “Setting SMARTer Goals”, it is important to have specific objectives. Once we have set a goal it will typically take 20 to 30 days of deliberate practice for that change to begin to become a habit. The Mental Training Department here at Gary Gilchrist Golf Academy will often see even the most motivated golfers, for some reason or another, lose track of their goal and fall short before it becomes a habit. Has this ever happened to you? When we look closer, there are other factors in play that can elongate the process and wreak havoc on even the most motivated golfers.

As we have worked with these students, we have found that there are common tendencies that impede progress:

  • Constant comparison to previous accomplishments and/or to other golfers.
  • The need to perform the task/goal without flaw.
  • Perfectionism and their extremely high levels of expectations on themselves.
  • And, the need to see immediate results, just to name a few.

How does this apply to golf’s most elite? Tiger Woods began this year at the Hero world challenge mentioning that his back was better. This was followed by an announcement that he would be playing TPC Scottsdale and Torrey Pines back-to-back, which Tiger explained, “…should be fun.” However, as we observed, these tournaments may not have provided the “fun” Tiger was referring to. From a mental training standpoint it is important to set high standards for yourself. When we set goals they should be set outside our comfort zone so that we have room to grow. However as we work toward our goal, if we raise our expectations too high, it becomes easy to lose track of the progress we are making. While Tiger embraces challenge it will be important for him to focus on the process and away from purely outcomes. It happens much too often that we see golfers put emphasis on the outcomes and fail to take the time to acknowledge the progress they are making toward their goal.

Conversely, Rickie Fowler has done an amazing job of embracing a change and working within the process. After finishing top 5 at Augusta, and being picked a favorite to win the Zurich classic. Rickie spoke about a major swing change he made just a couple months earlier, “I really just need to stay patient and kind of stick with what I’ve been doing.” Here at GGGA one method we use to help keep our students on track with their process is the use of a plus (+), minus (-), plus (+) philosophy. We use the first plus (+) to acknowledge the details of what the student is doing well. Then we positively acknowledge (-) the areas that the student would like to improve. Finally, we use the last plus (+) to create solutions to the challenges they expressed in the minus section. By following this model we ensure that our students acknowledge the things they are doing well and gain confidence. We also make sure that our students are consistently able to find solutions for their individual areas of improvement.

Take for example this (+ – +) from a student that is working to improve their putting in tournaments.

(+): I hit my irons well.
I made solid contact with my putts.
I started my putts on the line that I committed to.

(-): The speed on my putts was inconsistent.
I did not leave myself good second chance putts (avg. 4-5ft).

(+): I will work on my putting drills for pacing the greens.
I will practice my lag and short putting.

If you have set goals before, yet have struggled with making them habits, go ahead and try out this simple (+ – +) strategy. If you would like more information GGGA’s Mental Training department is always here to help you find strategies to reach for your potential. Remember, you are the only person that has the power to make a change for yourself. Be patient, stay positive, and think like a champion!

*The above article was written by Mr. Skylar Jewell, Mental Training Coach, Gary Gilchrist Golf Association (GGGA) Mental Training Coach, on a February 10, 2015 and comes courtesy of the Gary Gilchrist Golf Academy. To learn more about GGGA’s Mental Training Program email MentalTraining@GGGA.com.

About GGGA

The Gary Gilchrist Golf Academy, located at Mission Inn Resort & Club in Howey-in-the-Hills, Florida, is the world’s premier junior golf academy. In addition to the junior golf program, GGGA also features summer golf camps, winter golf camps and programs, training and golf lessons for amateurs, professionals and adults. GGGA is committed to excellence in every facet of golf, fitness, personal development and academics, being partnered with Montverde Academy. Gary Gilchrist, founder of the Gary Gilchrist Golf Academy, has been recognized as a Golf Magazine Top 100 Teacher 2013-2014 and as a Golf Digest Top 50 Teacher in America 2012-2013 and 2014-2015. Gilchrist teaches many of the games top juniors and pros at the Academy, including Morgan Hoffmann, Shanshan Feng, Fabrizio Zanotti and many more.