Adapted from Mastering Golf’s Mental Game: Your Ultimate Guide to Better On-Course Performance and Lower Scores, copyright © 2014 by Dr. Michael T. Lardon. To be published by Crown Archetype, an imprint of Random House LLC, on Sept. 16, $25.
Over the past 10 years, I’ve been helping golfers like Phil Mickelson find high-value motivation to continue to improve year after year, and showing them how to use the strong results orientation they all have in a productive way. One of the basic tools for this work is what I call the Mental Scorecard.
Golf is a game of score and measurement. You write down your score for each hole, and you plug your final score into the computer. You’re judged by your handicap, just like PGA Tour players are judged by their finishes and rank on the money list.
We all know intuitively that it’s best to be focused on the process, or the task at hand. But we can’t help but try to peek forward at what our results might be: If I can par out, I can break 80 for the first time, or All I have to do is two-putt here. Or we chew over past results: I never hit a good tee shot here, or I always choke under pressure. When you dilute your attention that way, it’s hard to perform at your best.