By Dr. Gregg Steinberg, USGTF Sports Psychologist

Jordan Spieth was in low gear until hole 13th at The Open Championship. He had just made five bogeys and had just lost the lead to Matt Kuchar. But then he turned it on and finished 5-under for the last five holes to win the Claret Jug for the first time.

How did he do this?

It is called intensity level. Jordan plays by it. He plays his best when his intensity level is high, but for the first 13 holes, it was clearly on a lower level. When he fell one back to Kuchar, he cranked it up, and we all saw greatness in action!

However, you may not be like Jordan Spieth. You may play your best when your inner flame is set lower. The secret is to know what level you need to set your flame.

A useful analogy to understand this process is the example of setting a flame on the stove when you are cooking soup. When the flame is set too low, the soup will take forever to cook. If the flame is set too high, the soup will come to a boil too quickly and perhaps burn or spill over the sides. To cook your soup most effectively, you need to set your flame at the appropriate level.

If you are notorious for being a slow starter, your flame is set too low at the start of play. If you are a college player or professional, you could try the same strategy by pretending that your practice round is your first tournament round. If you are an amateur and typically play one-round events, you may need to have a pre-event routine that gets you fired up. A strategy you could use is to take more time practicing and preparing mentally for the round.

In contrast, if you usually have a terrible last round of a tournament, or if you are a player who struggles to bring a good round into the barn, it may be that your flame is set too high. You could tone it down by practicing relaxation techniques and use these techniques to calm you down when necessary. Another strategy is to decrease your focus on the outcome and focus more on the process, taking one shot at a time. Focusing on your score can set your flame too high, especially if you are near the lead.

To play your best golf, be like Jordan Spieth and set your internal flame at the appropriate level.

See more articles like this at Also, please check out the USGTF-certified golf psychology course at this site. You can take this course for 1/2 off for the month of September with the promo code iggy199. On this site, there is a free mental game e-book, as well as many free videos and articles.
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