From the Pros of Golf: Mental Tips for Focus on the Green
Golf is, arguably more than any other, a sport about focus. So much of it is played inside the mind; to quote Adam Migur, “mental factor is probably the single most important thing that happens on the golf course.” For professional golfers, he says, “we can [all] hit the ball, we can putt, we can chip, it just comes down to what’s between the ears.” So, we took some time to compile, from the masters of golf, mental tips for focus and concentration that can benefit your game. Here is what they’ve had to say over the years.
According to Harold Varner III, Tiger Woods has an amazing strategy for finding his focus on the green, one that sounds odd, but makes a lot of sense the more you think about it! He told Varner that “playing golf is like reading a book with the TV on” – and it turns out that is a great way to practice, because it teaches you to focus on one specific task while blocking out another – like focusing on your putt instead of your golf partners chatting behind you!
Jin Young-Ko’s secret to success is perhaps the most relatable on the list. In golf, mental tips for focus can mean any one of hundreds of little life hacks for an improved swing. For Ko, it means “I don’t think statistically. I just try my best every time, and that brings out the results;” the “focus is on my game.” Or, as she puts it even more simply, “I want to be the happiest player on the golf course.” The best way to find your focus according to Ko is to simply enjoy what you’re doing and avoid thinking about the results or what they mean. Just have fun! The focus will follow.
Arguably the greatest golfer of all time, Nicklaus has a lot to say about the sport, and one of his best bits of advice for golf is recorded in his book, My Story:
I would pinpoint four qualities that seem to be shared by all consistent winners, at least insofar as golf is concerned: ability to think clearly under pressure, patience, self-centeredness (concern about what other competitors may or may not be doing is both a useless distraction and a waste of energy) and simply working harder at all of the above when you are playing poorly than when you are playing well.
Rory McIlroy’s rise to golfer stardom seems to have taught him a lot about himself. In 2019, he offered his own tidbits of wisdom about golf, mental tips for the focus that serves him so well in tournament play. He once told reporters that he is “almost making more time to practice my mind‑set rather than to be on the range,” seeking to improve his mental game by focusing on his “three Ps:” perspective, persistence, and poise. In other words, treating every golf game the same, refusing to focus on how he’s doing rather than the next shot, and emulating the confidence he wants to feel.
Dustin Johnson has enjoyed a stunning career in golf, and has mental tips to share! His love of the game is a clear contributor to his success, but one of his biggest pieces of advice for focus is something he inherited from one of his coaches, Allen Terrell. He says, “I can control myself and what I am doing, but I can’t control what anyone else is doing. I can’t control how the golf ball is bouncing or the weather—so don’t let those things bother you.” Keeping your focus on yourself and striving to enjoy the game is crucial for success on the green.
These mental tips can improve your focus and drastically enhance your golf game. This is how the best of the best think about their sport, and the results show in every tournament they play! If you find it’s difficult to emulate the masters of the sport, you may have noticed that a lot of their advice revolves around a theme of enjoying yourself and loving the game. If there’s one thing worth focusing on for better golf, it is definitely that.