The 3 R’s of Regaining your Focus on the Golf Course

“Would you please be QUIET?”

Golf is already a challenging game without the added distraction of noise breaking your concentration.

Noise can be broken down into two categories:

  • External – External noise is distraction that comes from sources outside of the body such as noises from the gallery or golfers in your group (sneezing, coughing, moving around, talking).  External noise can also include car traffic, airplanes, or other noises in the environment.   
  • Internal – Internal noise includes analytical thoughts, negative thoughts, images or intense emotion that interfere with your ability to play consistently at your best.

Unwanted external noise can break your focus and throw off the shot you are facing. 

What if the noise comes from internal sources?  What if it’s your negative thoughts that disrupt you before or during your swing?    

Internal noise or negative mental chatter can not only affect your current shot but also can inhibit every shot for the entirety of the round.

It’s odd that you wouldn’t stand for the noise from spectators or fellow golfers, but you would allow those thought distractions to take up residence in your mind.

Internal distractions, more specifically negative thinking, is your biggest adversary on the golf course.  Some golfers are so accustomed to negative thinking, harsh self-criticism and negative thoughts during their game that they are hardly noticed.

The following are just a few negative self-statements that can disrupt your game and send your game spiraling downward:

  • “What’s wrong with me today?”
  • “I can’t sink a five-foot putt to save my life.”
  • “Well, today is just a waste of time.”
  • “I guess I’m going to slice this drive too.” 
  • “I will probably double bogey again.”
  • “Another horrible day of golf.”

If you cannot defend yourself from self-critical and negative thoughts, your golf game will be inconsistent or even plateau to some level of “okay” performance.

In the opening round of the 2020 Charles Schwab Challenge, Harold Varner III began his round with a triple bogey.

Instead of allowing negative thinking to infiltrate his mind, Varner refocused and bounced back with eight birdies to end the round with a 66.

Varner was able to quickly process his triple bogey, clear his mind and reset for the next hole.

VARNER, “Not the start I wanted, but it’s just a part of golf.”

You can’t prevent external or internal noise.  Trying to prevent noise from happening is unrealistic and futile.

Instead of wasting energy trying to stop negative thoughts from entering your mind, you can learn effective mental strategies to manage those thoughts and refocus on the next shot. 


The 3 R’s Strategy to Regain your Focus:


Recognize – The first step in overcoming disruptive noise is to recognize when you start to focus on distractions.  The earlier you detect when you lose focus, the quicker you will be able to recover your focus.


Reset – Resetting requires that you take a brief pause.  This is the tipping point when you make the choice to change your focus.  You can use the cue word “Reset” to remind you to change your focus.


Re-Focus – Get your focus back on track.  Regaining your focus is a matter of asking yourself, “What do I need to do right now to play my next shot?”


When you take charge of your focus, you will take charge of your golf game.

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