“Golf – A game of mindset; just like life”

Whilst watching the Ryder Cup over the weekend, I thought “Wow, golf is a game of mindset” and I thought about how it is a metaphor for life in general.

With most sports you don’t have time to think, it is about reacting in the moment. It may be that the ball is moving or your opponent is moving and so this impacts on how you play the game. In golf, your opponent’s successes or failures may influence your choice of shot in a match play situation but you always have plenty of time to focus on what shot to play and how to play it. This is one of the reasons golf is a very difficult game to play because you need to handle the pressure, your emotions and manage your mindset.

I learned to play golf 30 years ago and the first time I played on a proper course with other people, my first tee shot was a real shocker; it landed on the 18th green and people were putting on it! That would not have been so bad except there were lots of players waiting to follow us and there were a number of “tuts” from those around me. My confidence was completely knocked and since that time, I would be very nervous on the first tee and whenever I did a bad shot I would imagine “tuts” from others and I would question whether I was good enough to be on the golf course.

This would then spiral into other negative emotions where I would start to curse, maybe swear, maybe even throw my clubs around and then I would get very angry with myself and my bad behaviour. It almost became a ritual. It seemed that I would have to go through that negative process before I could start to accept that it was just a game and a bit of fun and then I seemed to play better.

So how can you manage your mindset and your emotions on the golf course?

Here are 3 tips to manage your mindset on the golf course which are just as valuable in eveyday life

1)     Reduce the tension. If you are carrying tension in your body, particularly the top half, it is very difficult to connect with the ball in the correct place and at the right angle. So focus on taking a deep breath before you step up to take your shot and shrug your shoulders and then push them down and purposefully relaxing any tension in the shoulders.  Such simple actions with a huge impact and notice how much cleaner you strike the ball.

2)     Focus on the target; fairways and greens. So often I hear my golfing colleagues say, “I always go in that bunker on this hole” or “I can never get it over the water”.  You may think “I keep slicing it”. When you comment on the hazards, it draws attention to them so they are in your mind and your unconscious will focus on going in the bunker or the water (the same for your slice). So keep your attention on the fairways and greens and visualise the flight of the ball and where you want to pitch the ball. Your unconscious will aim to deliver that through the correct physical swing.

3)     Concentrate on the present. Once you have a done a poor shot (and we all will!) it is important to change the attention to what you can control at that moment. Firstly, your emotions by controlling your breathing and walking tall to keep a feeling of confidence. Then, you can focus on what you can do with your next shot. I always have a few sayings to myself such as “This looks like a good skills test” as that helps me to focus on what I have to do.

So when your game is a bit awry ask yourself “What can I do about that?” The more you are able to let go of the mistakes you have made, forget the impact that may have on your score and focus purely on the present the stronger your game will be.

The person who can maintain their thoughts in the present throughout the 18 holes or the competition is the one who is likely to rise above the rest.

And it is the same approach to take for life in general.

If you want to know more about managing your mindset, please contact me

Tracy Ward

Your Catalyst for Change



Are you a winner or a loser? This is how you can lose in style.

Over many years, I have played a lot of competitive sport and I was always very keen to win.  I know most sports people want to win but for me winning was of utmost importance because I thought it made be a better person and I was definitely a sore loser.

We all know sore losers don’t we?  We have all seen or hear of those people that throw their equipment around, curse and swear or even end up in a punch up with the opposition.  You cannot play your best sport when you are so wound up that you cannot control your emotions.  And how does that behaviour help them?  The result can be fines, points deducted or being sent off and yet none of that helps the cause of winning the game and you can earn the name of the bad guy and then the referee or umpire will keep an even closer eye on you and be waiting for you to slip up.

And then there are those that after the game will explain all the reasons why they lost.  Often it can be the referee’s fault but how about “the ball was too bouncy”, “the frogs croaking kept us up last night” or “my pants were too tight” (Yes these are all excuses that have been used for losing!)  And when I hear such excuses I would think that they are a sore loser and to just accept that they were better than you on the day.

So be honest, are you ever like that?  And are you aware what other may be saying about you or worst still thinking about you and not telling you to your face?


Yesterday, I played in the Suffolk Golf Club knockout championship completion called the Cranworth.  The Bramford Golf Centre Chix with Stix had made it to the semi-final and we were hoping to beat Ipswich Golf Club into the final. It was a tough day playing 36 holes in the wind and rain at Felixstowe.  My expectation was that Ipswich would be very determined to win and would be extremely pedantic on rulings and have an air of being better than our team who were new to this competition and really any competition.

How wrong I was!  Although the 9 matches were all very close, the games that I was involved in were played in a wonderful spirit of fairness, enjoyment and admiration of good golf.

We didn’t win and all credit to Ipswich; they took their chances at the right times with at least 3 matches going down to the last hole and if they had gone our way the result would have been different.  Although our team lost and were obviously very disappointed, I can reflect on the amazing run we have had to get so far in our first year and I accept that maybe:-

  • They were better on the day
  • Their experience helped them at the time that really mattered
  • They found that extra little bit, that second wind when everyone was feeling tired (and battered by the wind and rain)

It reminds me of the Swiss tennis player Stanislas Wawrinka who had a tattoo on his arm.  It is a quote from the Irish poet Samuel Beckett.

“Ever tried. Ever failed. No matter. Try Again. Fail again. Fail better.”

As the Swiss number 2 tennis player behind Roger Federer for so long and knowing that there is only one winner in each tournament , he needed to accept that there would be many losses, that there would be disappointment and there would be heartache.  He also knew it was important to maintain a positive outlook on his life and tennis and that the meaning of the quote does not change know matter how well you do.


In our golf match I didn’t see any equipment being thrown or any punch ups.  There may have been some curses under the breath by both sides but I have not heard of any lame excuses after the event for losing.

I think that the Chix with Stix were magnanimous in defeat and we all recognise that Ipswich pipped us on the day.  I hope that the Ipswich Ladies will remember our spirit of fair play, our sense of fun and our recognition and admiration of good golf. We have all learned from the amazing experience.

I know I will remember the thrill of the competitive matches and the friendly atmosphere when a place in the final was at stake.  I will also remember that because of my own personal development I was able to put aside the utmost importance of winning and to maintain my composure under pressure to sink those knee-trembling putts when it really counted.


Are you controlling your emotions in your sport or your daily life? Or are your emotions controlling you?  Are you ready now to control your emotions and find out how you can be more composed under pressure? Or are you ready now to change your mind-set to “try again and fail better”?

If you answered “Yes” to either of these questions, find out how I can help you and contact me

Tracy Ward, Your Catalyst for Change.