This week, we may have the opportunity to watch history unfold. Jordan Spieth heads into The Open Championship having won the first two majors of the season. He is playing some great golf and I can assure you, it’s not just about his swing. In fact, his mindset and self-talk has played an even more critical role in his success over these past few months.
If you happened to watch Jordan Spieth’s interview on media day at St. Andrews, you would have heard him talk about his game plan for the week, what he was going to focus on or what he might change if anything.
He talked about spending some time on the range hitting shots with a focus on controlling trajectory. He mentioned he wanted to be able to flight the ball down when he needed to in order to keep it low into the wind. He also wanted to work on hitting it high so he could go after pins if the conditions were right.
But mostly, he talked about the mental side of his game. He was going to stay present, take it one shot at a time and through the process, he was going to be patient. He was going to visualize his shots and execute them to the best of his ability. This is by far the best part of his game plan.
Yes he is a skilled ball striker and a very good putter, but it’s the mental side of the game where he really shines. This brings me to a quote from Henry Ford, “Whether you think you can, or you think you can’t–you’re right.” Henry Ford I find this quote superbly applicable in golf. In Jordan’s case, when he steps up to every shot, he thinks he can!
When he says he is going to visualize a shot, he is seeing it go exactly where and how he wants it to go. He is in a positive mindset. He is intent on having a positive outcome.
This is something everyone can do regardless of handicap. Having a positive mindset is a key component to having a positive outcome.
Take for example, a par three that has water in front, sand to the right and deep rough behind. The distance is something you can easily attain using a mid iron or hybrid. In fact, you had a similar yardage on a previous hole and made a beautiful shot on to the green. Yet you step up onto the tee and proceed to dump it right into the water.
The challenge people face with the par three is not that they can’t hit a shot the distance required to get it onto the green, it’s that their self talk and visualization is negative. It shifts to an “I can’t” mode. This impacts the ability to stay present for the shot. It also affects the ability to commit to the swing. When the self-talk goes negative and sounds like this, “I hate this hole,” “I’m always in the water on this hole” or you dig in your bag for the water ball, you’re setting yourself up for a poor outcome.
What if you changed your self-talk and visualization into a positive? “This is the perfect distance for my 6 iron!” “In fact, I hit a fantastic 6 iron two holes ago this exact distance!” “It was one of my best swings of the day!”
What if you visualized the shot going high into the air and landing onto the middle of the green? I can promise you, if you shift your thinking to what you WANT to have happen when you play, you WILL have a better outcome. Change your belief system and your self talk to what you intend to do. Not only will you improve your play, you will have a more positive feeling about the whole experience and enjoy your round of golf even more.