By: Gregg Steinberg, WGCA contributing writer Do you know why Phil Mickelson does so well at the Masters? Bones McKay, Mickelson’s caddy, has remarked many times how Phil has declared his love and admiration for Augusta National. Phil states that he gets goose bumps every time he drives up Magnolia Lane. With the Masters coming up in a few months, this is a teachable moment for your students. A declaration of love (or great admiration) for a course can help your play. Like Phil does at Augusta National, you are psyching yourself up to play well—regardless of condition or difficulty. Joy of a course can help expel any excessive feelings of anxiety. Ultimately, you are transforming adversity into an enjoyable challenge. Let’s take the flip side. You can talk yourself into playing badly on a course or a hole. How many times have you and your students been psyched out of a hole by telling yourself how much you dislike that particular hole? Perhaps the hole did not fit your shot pattern or fit your eye. In either regard, a dislike for a hole decreases the joy while increasing the stress you will feel, usually leading to a poorer score. I know it is easy to find something wrong with every course you play, or letting a hole psych you out. But I would highly recommend to your students to take Mickelson’s mental game lead. Talk yourself into enjoying every golf course that you play. Find something about the course that you really admire. Perhaps it’s the piece of property and its beauty or its unique par 3’s. You should also recommend to your students to find something they like about every hole. It is easy to do, especially if this becomes a habit. When you make every course and every hole your favorite, you will enjoy the game even more because you played so well. (Dr. Gregg Steinberg is the sports psychologist for the USGTF. He is regular guest every Tuesday on “Talk of the Tour” heard on Sirius/XM PGA Tour Radio. He is a tenured professor of sports psychology and has been the mental game coach for many tour players. Dr. Steinberg is the author of the bestselling golf psychology book, MentalRules for Golf, and you can get your autographed copy at
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