January 6

One Simple Trick to Control Your Anger on the Course- And You Don’t Need Any Sports Psychology To Use It!

Golf Lessons


I’ve seen people that get pretty pissed off over a poor golf shot.

Seriously… I played with a guy that started off doing something smart; he thought hitting a 3-wood off the tee was a good play on a tight fairway.  He push-sliced the sucker across a street!

His reaction?  Slamming the wood down with all of his might, then throwing the poor club into a tree.  None of us could get the thing down, because it was so high up.  He had to go the rest of the round without his (supposedly) trusty wood.

Anyone with a hint of sports psychology experience would know that guy had a problem.

What’s the purpose of getting that angry while golfing?  Slamming your driver, throwing a club, stomping around like a kid that had their toy taken from them…  How is this beneficial to anyone?

I’ve written before about managing stress on the golf course, and Golf Info Guide has a very good one, as well.

I’ve heard the “well, Tiger Woods does it” excuse- and that’s what it is- an excuse.  Tiger is an exception to the rule; the vast majority of us won’t play better by acting like that.

Besides, Tiger’s dad Earl had a pretty good handle on curbing Tiger’s tantrums.  As a kid, Earl gave his son to the count of 10.  From the moment the boy realized his shot wasn’t going to be good, he was allowed 10 seconds to rant, then he had to be over it.

I have a better way- one that doesn’t involve making you look like a jackass.

It’s breathing.  Don’t laugh; the Harvard Medical School found that deep breathing enhances your ability to relax.

How to Breath Deep

It all starts in the diaphragm.  Breath so your belly sticks out first, then let the lungs fill.

I’ve heard many different ways to do this, but what works for me is to breath in for a count of 4, hold it for a count of 3, then let it out (slowly) for a count of 5.

You may get more out of a 7/5/8 technique, or a 2/2/2… you’ll have to find what works best for you.

I should also mention that this helps me when I go to bed.  It not only calms you down, but it clears your mind, as well.  Perfect for when you’re trying to quiet all the voices before slipping off to slumber.

In all sports, psychology plays a big role in how we perform.  You know how some commentators say a baseball pitcher just “doesn’t have ‘it’ today”?  What is “it”?  That’s the psychology at work.

We’re not robots.  We have problems at work, problems at home.  That jaggoff you always seem to get stuck behind on the freeway… the one that doesn’t know how to use a goddam turn signal when they want to change lanes.  That stuff takes us out of our game.

The thing that separates the pros from we mere mortals is the ability to find a way to shut that off, at least for the minute or so it takes to go through the process of hitting a golf ball.

When I play with people like that (which isn’t that often, thankfully), I get the feeling that they don’t realize what they’re doing to their playing partners.



One Simple Trick to Control Your Anger on the Course- And You Don't Need Any Sports Psychology To Use It! 1

If you’re like Kylo Ren there, why not take a look at yourself in the mirror?

Honestly, if you could see yourself as others see you when you act like that, I’m positive you’d change your ways.

Ever hear the phrase “the power of positive thinking”?

sports psychology
Source: BK (Flickr)







This is also why it’s handy to have a joke book, or, just be really good at remembering them (which, sadly, I’m not).  Something to lighten the mood.  If you really like the people you’re golfing, but can’t stand the way they act when things go awry, try to lighten the mood.  As the cliche goes, “laughter is the best medicine”.

Negativity is the bane of a golfer’s existence.

It’s like falling into quicksand: the more you struggle, the deeper you sink.  Stay calm, stay collected.

If you make a bogey, you have two basic choices:

  1. Slam your club in disgust
  2. Resolve yourself to getting that shot back

When in doubt, use Rule #2.  That’s how winners think.  That’s why they thrive.  They don’t wallow in self-pity, they don’t stomp and pout.  They center themselves, figure out what went wrong, and try to do better.

Next time you’re on the course, why not try the breathing technique?

About the author 

Justin Blair

Justin Blair is the founder of Green Lantern Golf. When he isn't bringing his 10+ years of excellent craftsmanship experience to golf club fitting, building, and repair, he's geeking out about Star Wars (he's watched them all about 8,437 times!) and things like the MCU and LOTR, he's drinking mead and craft brews. If you wanna know more, check out my About Page!

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