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6 tips to reduce embarrassment on the golf course

6 tips to stop feeling embarrassment on the golf course

3 min read
  • Sport psychology

The golf course can be a stressful environment. Whether you like it or not, at some point a better golfer (be it another member, a course marshal or even a club pro) will end up being close by and probably watch you play some of your shots.

For many, this unwanted attention can be source of embarrassment and make them engage in less beneficial practice and play. But why does this happen? And how can you manage these feelings?

When you are embarrassed, you are more likely to look to protect yourself, meaning you don’t take risks. This may involve clubbing down to make the shot easier to hit, not going for the green, or avoiding practicing the weaker points of your game. Therefore, it seems embarrassment definitely is an issue in golf, so we’ve come up with some top tips to help you overcome this:

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Stop comparing yourself to others

The human brain craves certainty; and if you start comparing yourself to others, you lose this as you have no control over another’s playing abilities. Therefore, it is essential that when on the golf course you only focus on yourself – your behaviours, your attitude, and your processes.

Refocus your attention

Your attention should be completely focused on what you are able to control. Focusing only on aspects you can control will improve your confidence, making it more likely you execute your shots to the best of your ability and less likely you become embarrassed.

Avoid overestimation

Golfers often become embarrassed because they think that the few poor shots they have hit will cause others to negatively evaluate their performance.

Don’t try and ‘mind read’. It is likely that you are placing too much emphasis on the bad shots you have hit that will soon be forgotten by others rather than focusing on the good shots you played that will be remembered. See our top 10 tips to control negative thoughts in sport to find out more.

Reduce fear of failure

Fear of failure often causes golfers to play it safe, not taking any risks and not performing to the best of their abilities. If golfers can change their mentality and see their mistakes as an opportunity to learn, then fear of failure and the embarrassment that comes with it will be reduced and a growth mindset can be developed, which improves performance.

Be posititve

Having a positive mentality both on and off the golf course can help reduce feelings of embarrassment. This mentality can be created through golfers using positive self-talk: saying phrases such as ‘I can do this’ or ‘trust my decisions’ can restore confidence and the belief that they can perform to the best of their abilities.                    

Set goals

Set yourself challenging but realistic goals, that look to improve on the weaker aspects of your previous performances. In other words, set goals based on your own personal development, as the more specific to your personal performance your goals are, the greater your motivation, effort and improvement and the less focus you will place on what others think.

Final thoughts

The majority of people start playing golf to challenge themselves or because they are looking for an enjoyable game they can play with friends. Most people don’t get involved to impress others.

However, the nature of the golf course is such that golfers often end up concentrating more on avoiding embarrassment rather than enjoying playing and practicing new skills.

So, next time you are on the golf course, and feel the gaze of a better golfer, don’t worry about embarrassing yourself. Instead, concentrate on the reasons as to why you are stood here, and remember that at some point this better golfer would have felt just like you.

About the editor

Bradley Busch

Bradley Busch

Bradley Busch is a Chartered Psychologist and a leading expert on illuminating Cognitive Science research in education. As Director at InnerDrive, his work focuses on translating complex psychological research in a way that is accessible and helpful. He has delivered thousands of workshops for educators and students, helping improve how they think, learn and perform. Bradley is also a prolific writer: he co-authored four books including Teaching & Learning Illuminated and The Science of Learning, as well as regularly featuring in publications such as The Guardian and The Telegraph.

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