One of the central challenges in golf is that the results-oriented goal of the game—shooting a good score—is at odds with the process-oriented focus that will produce those results. In other words, the more you focus on your score at the expense of the steps you go through to see and hit your shot, the worse your score will probably be.
The Mental Scorecard is a way to train yourself into going through the process-oriented pre-shot steps that let you swing with clear and simple focus. You have the chance to score yourself on each shot and each hole—which satisfies the intense results orientation most of us have—but it rewards the things that produce good swings and good scores instead of promoting the opposite effect.
I use the Scorecard (which is shown below) as a tool for all of my professional golf clients, but it’s just as useful for somebody trying to break 100 for the first time as it is for a player who is trying to win the U.S. Open. I’ve also adapted it for non-reaction sports where the athletes need a way to “turn off” anxious or technical thoughts and enter what I call the peak performance zone. An Olympic high jumper or dressage champion doesn’t have remotely the same physical skill set as a golfer, but the mental challenges are surprisingly similar.
My new book, Mastering Golf’s Mental Game, serves as a terrific guide to understanding and implementing the Mental Scorecard, but it’s simple enough that you can get the basics from the card below. The pre-shot routine is broken into three phases—calculating the details of the shot at hand (distance, wind, club selection), visualizing the shot you want to play and stepping in and executing the shot with a clear mind or single, simple swing thought.
You score yourself on those three phases for every shot you hit during a round, and you end up with a percentage that represents your mental score. If you play a par-4 and make bogey, 5 is your physical score. But if you successfully go through the three phases of your routine for each of the five shots, your mental score is 5/5, or 100 percent. The top Tour players in the world routinely score in the high 90s. The difference between winning a major and keeping your card is about 7 or 8 percentage points—five or six shots per round with less than full concentration. The club champion at your course would probably score in the high 60s or low 70s.
Click here to download the card and give it a try yourself. Whatever your percentage is, improving it by following the processes will improve your real score. Mastering Golf’s Mental Game offers a variety of strategies and real-world success stories to help you get the most from the tool. You can read more about the Mental Scorecard and my work with Phil Mickelson and other PGA Tour players in this Golf Digest excerpt from the August 2014 issue.
Click here to get the scorecard.