Case Study #7- Golfer

I worked with a top 50 high school golfer this year. Most of his issues were about a poor focus at the start of the round.  Most of his distractions were internal (such as negative thinking), but he also was pulled off task when outside distractions were present. As we talked more, I found out that he plays his best only after dropping some shots early (that means making mistakes and making bogies early in the round). He almost seemed as if he was “sleep walking” early in the round with no focus to his game. He “woke up” his game only after a mistake or couple of bogies when he got angry with himself. He does not give up but increases his determination to come back. He needs the incentive to pick up the energy level. He wants a better approach to get off to a good start to the round. A couple of other notes: Other people think that he is a better player than he thinks of himself. He plays better when he thinks his “back is against the wall.”

Case Study Analysis:

1.      What are the issues (related to focus) that are sabotaging his success?

2.       What ideas do you suggest to help Paul improve his focus?


John’s Mental Game Issues:

1.      Under arousal at the start of a round. Plays better when he thinks his back is against the wall and needs pressure to concentrate and focus effectively.

2.      Negative Thinking/Self-limiting Beliefs.  First, John has a limiting belief that he only plays better when his back is against the wall.  This is irrational as past history has illustrated.

3.      Lack of confidence, and he sabotages his own success by playing poorly at the beginning of a round.


1.      Address the generalization that he thinks he always starts a round slowly.  This thought process does not have to be a message that gets played over and over in his head like a broken record.

2.      Implement the “Formula for Success” in advance and develop a new way of thinking. Have No Expectations, Establish Manageable Objectives, Focus on the Process, and Incorporate High Confidence Belief Statements to support success.

3.      Set manageable objectives designed for success yet challenging enough to not make them too easy to achieve. Example: Set the number of Fairways/ Greens/or Birdie opportunities. This is designed to help john focus on the process and playing functional golf.

4.      Reduce thinking about results. Break the round into three or six hole segments and establish performance objectives for each segment.  This reduces the thought process on the entire round and score.

5.      Raise level of arousal (excitement) at the beginning of the round so there is a high level of focus at the start.  Set manageable objectives for the start of the round.  Commit to a game plan going into a round. Help John feel the challenges established by the performance objectives.  For example: Feel the challenge of making one birdie on the first three holes.  The self talk should be; “Get into ATTACK mode from the first strike of the ball.”

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