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Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Pressure Comes from Inside

Cartoon of pressure cookerJust a quick post on the mental game today.

After watching Big Break Tuesday night, I was reminded how easy it is to beat yourself. We talk about learning to handle "high-pressure situations," but that's not really the key to playing better. If you want to deal with pressure, you don't need to manage it; you need to eliminate it.

The key is to realize that pressure comes from inside. (The cartoon is originally from this site.)

Unless somebody's literally holding a gun to your head or something like that, you create the pressure you feel when you step up over that little white ball. You are the one who decides that this shot is worth so much that your hands are shaking. You are the one telling yourself that you simply have to hit this shot perfectly or all is lost.

It's all a creation of your own mind. Presumably, you have at least some say-so over what you think about! If you can't handle the pressure, then tone it down or eliminate it completely.

I know, I know -- that's easier said than done. But that's why some players self-destruct and others don't. I'm not saying that some shots aren't worth more than others... but some players let that perceived worth control them, and some don't.

Look at Rocco this past week. In his own words, he was about to lose his job. That's pressure, isn't it? Not really. Rocco had already sent in his entry fee for Q-School; if he didn't make the Top 125 or win before then, he was all set to go. In a sense, Rocco had already handled his pressure so all he had to do was go out and play golf.

That's what you have to do. Before you step onto the course, think about the worst possible outcome of a poor game... and then decide just how bad that outcome really is. Is it the end of everything? Of course not. So don't tell yourself that it is.

Turn off the heat to your internal pressure cooker before it boils over, and you won't have to worry about pressure on the course. Let your opponents do the worrying. ;-)


  1. Oh sure - NOW you come out with this great advice ! After I lose a half point for my Henburger Cup team by repeating the exact tee shot from a year ago when I lost to the same guy. :-D

    Good thing we got things back together and won the Cup in the second and third rounds.

  2. If you don't tell Dr. Mike you have a problem, you can't blame him for not providing a cure. ;-)

    BTW, congrats on the win! Feels good, doesn't it?

  3. lol - true true.

    Yep - felt good to at least put up half a point. I was starting to feel like Paddy Harrington in the Ryder Cup. Saturday match was singles (had 18 players instead of 16 or 20), then a Four Ball on Saturday (lost) and won singles on Monday.

  4. Congrats Court! I read this post after I finished a round too. I think we need Dr. Mike to develop psychic abilities as well:-)