Golfers: Are you looking for Perfection?

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If you lack self-belief and confidence when you practise and in competitive matches and tournaments, maybe you have perfectionist tendencies?

Perfectionists demand an awful lot from themselves, arguably too much.  They can be fixated on performing to an unreachable level.  These high and unrealistic expectations then go on to cause self-doubt and in some cases performance anxiety.

Often golfers who are perfectionists perform well in practise, but as soon as a match or competition comes along their performance dips.  This can cause huge frustration for them.  Some client’s have expressed they dread having a card in their hand. 

Another challenge perfectionist golfers have is that they can place too much focus on worrying about other people.  They can focus too much on what friends, playing partners, administrators, team-mates, coaches and parents say and think about them.  This is more common among youngsters and can lead to confidence level’s yo-yo’ing. 

From my experience of supporting golfer’s, 14 common challenges perfectionist golfer’s struggle with are:

  • Very self-critical of themselves and their performances
  • Performance anxiety before matches and competitions
  • Unrealistic expectations to perform without any errors
  • Get overly technical in their pre-shot routine
  • Are reactive in the way they practise
  • Dwelling on mistakes
  • Find it difficult to transfer practise to matches and competitions, especially when they have a card in their hand
  • Go quiet, sulk, in “head down” mode, cutting themselves off from playing partners
  • Difficulty controlling their emotions after errors
  • Practise too much on perfecting technique and not enough on improving scoring
  • Suffer with paralysis by analysis between shots
  • Mindreading and focusing too much on what other people think or say
  • Concentration issues, thinking too far ahead
  • Their confidence yo-yo’s from high to low quickly

It’s not all bad news

When you consider top golfers and the Mental Toughness they require to be successful you may think of:

  • High motivation
  • Love learning new skills
  • Strong commitment levels
  • Desire to be better every day

Perfectionist golfers will tick these boxes too which makes them great to work with.  They simply need some assistance to improve other psychological skills from Sport Psychologists to achieve their potential.

2 Tips to help Perfectionist Golfers

1. Help them understand what factors they can and cannot control.  Helping them to recognize how focusing on the right and wrong things impacts on their behaviour.  This way they can create mini-goals in practise and in competitions where they shift their focus on to behaviours that they do when they play at their best.

2. Improve their self-awareness in relation to the expectations they place on themselves in practise and in competitive situations. 

For example, a golfer may play off a 5 handicap, rarely practise their putting.   Yet, incorrectly believe that they must perform perfectly and get really angry when they miss putts less than 10 feet.  When one misses, then another, they go onto become overly self-critical and let it affect other parts of their game.  Therefore, stupidly letting it destroy their confidence.  When in reality, they have no right to hole every short putt.  Even tour pro’s who practise day in day out don’t, as you’ll see from these stats – Jordan Speith, currently ranked no 10 on the PGA for putting between 5-10 foot has a hole out percentage of 68.97% – meaning he missed 3/10 of 5-10 foot putts.  CLICK HERE FOR PUTTING STATS.

Think about this for a moment, if you are unrealistic about how many 5-10 foot putts you should hole and you let it affect you game and confidence regularly, what else are you unrealistic about?  Holing longer putts? Chipping around the green to 3 feet? Shots from 100 yards? Hitting every fairway? Striking it perfect?

This is vitally important for them to understand how some beliefs go on to destroy their confidence.       

Best Wishes

David Charlton Golf Psychologist

David Charlton

Performance Coach / Golf Psychologist / Personal Trainer

T: +44 7734 697769


Based Near Newcastle Upon Tyne offering Online Training Options