Handle fear on the golf course with golf psychology, self-hypnosis and NLP


Fear on the golf course can come in many shapes and sizes and it can result in a multitude of problems ranging from lack of enjoyment, through poor scoring and frustration to outright anger. Most golfers will have experienced fear on the golf course, either personally or from watching a playing partner.

As an amateur golfer, although my golf is very important to me, my livelihood does not depend directly on my ability to score well. However, I can think of many times, especially in my younger days, when I was uncomfortable, nervous, scared and downright terrified on the golf course.

Those of you who subscribe to my Golf Hypnotist Ezine will have read in a recent post about my nerves on the first tee in the Golf Illustrated Junior Vase at Hexham in the early 70s. When the starter announced on the loud speaker system that they were expecting great things from me after my hole in one there the previous day, I could hardly stand up, let alone hit a good drive down the middle.

I’ve experienced similar feelings when I’ve arrived on the first tee and found I was playing with some or other golfing celebrity. I’ll never forget Bill Shankland, my then golf coach, asking me to stand in for him in a game in late-June of 1970. Bill explained that he was injured and could I take his place in a friendly fourball the following day. He went on to explain that there’d be no pressure as I was playing at my home club and partnering the club pro, Colin Christison, a man I’d played with many times before. Bill also mentioned that one of our opponents would be Ian Connelly from Welwyn Garden City, later to become Nick Faldo’s first coach and someone I also knew. I was a bit nervous plying with two pros I’d watched playing in the Agfa tournament at Stoke Poges, but I knew them both and felt I could handle it.

The next day, I got to the club and as I joined my playing partner Colin walking to the first tee, I noticed that there was quite a crowd of my fellow club members behind the tee. I nearly collapsed when I walked through the crowd and Colin introduced me to our other opponent. It was Tony Jacklin, back in the UK to prepare for the British Open after winning the US Open a few weeks earlier. I was terrified and it took a lot of quiet calming words from Colin to get me through the first nine holes. I started to enjoy the experience as I loosened up on the second nine.

Like most people back in the early 70s, I had no knowledge of golf psychology and the best advice available was to pull yourself together and get on with it. That was difficult and the effect didn’t last!

I’m sure that I would still be very nervous if I found myself unexpectedly playing with a US Open Champion. The difference is now that I have the means to relax myself using a variety of golf psychology techniques and really get the most from the experience. I’d probably play my normal game.

So what techniques would I use? Well the quickest technique would be to use my finger-thumb NLP Resource Anchor that would both relax me and get me into a confident and resourceful state. If I was still nervous, I could use self-hypnosis, some simple deep breathing exercises or, even better, the Balance your golf mind and body for better golf – focus on your Hara technique from an earlier blog article.

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