Archived Newsletters - MENTAL LESSON PLAN 4: Overcoming Fear:
Newsletter February 2003
MENTAL LESSON PLAN 4: Overcoming Fear
Vol. IV, Edition 2
By Joan King
Since November 2002 I have been outlining a six-month mental golf plan to
prepare those of you in non-golf climates for your re-emergence into golf in
the Spring. For those of you playing golf now in the warmer climates, it
will be a reminder of mental tools to use to enhance your present game.
This mental training is to prepare you so that you are ready to perform at
your peak performance level when you are over the ball. At that time you
want your mental, emotional, physical and spiritual parts all to be in
harmony. Then they act as one and the swing occurs without conscious effort
or thought. This is called playing in the zone.
- Lesson 1 in November 2002: Goal Setting and Physical Conditioning
- Lesson 2 in December 2002: Stress Management and Relaxation
- Lesson 3 in January 2003: Mind Control and Positive Self-Talk
The opposite state of being in the zone is being in a state of fear. Fear
is an agitated feeling aroused by an awareness of actual or threatening
trouble; an uneasy feeling that something may happen contrary to one's
All golfers have experienced the emotion of fear on the golf course.
Golfers express fears caused by everything from the feeling of possible
embarrassment or humiliation, to the worry of ruining a good score. First
tee jitters, hitting over water, hitting out of a steep bunker, and pressure
putts are examples of situations where golfers can get very fearful. The
mark of a champion is his/her ability to face the fear and change it by
producing a positive thought prior to swinging the golf club.
Here are four ways in which fear can sabotage your performance.
Fear in golf can be caused by:
- Fear distorts your perception and confuses you as to what is going on.
- If all of your giving (practice and effort) is about getting (winning,
results), think how fearful you will become.
- Fear is a sense of scarcity, a feeling that you aren't good enough.
- Living with the underlying feeling of fear (no control) is more frightening
than playing or living through the fear.
MENTAL KEYS TO OVERCOME FEAR:
- Negative thinking about past experiences; when you remember past shots that you
topped/hit in the water/ hit fat/consistently sliced.
- Worry about the results: when you allow your mind to think about missing a shot,
or thinking about your score.
- Generalizations: when you think your performance up to that point will repeat
throughout the round. Making a statement such as, "It looks like it will be that
kind of (awful) day" is a self-fulfilling prophecy.
- Your reputation: when you believe people will think less of you, or not want to
play with you when you don't shoot to your potential.
- Embarrassment: when you believe you are the only one to experience the humiliating
feelings of making a mistake in front of other people, and it somehow makes you less
of a person.
1. Overcome the fear of a particular shot, a particular golf club, a
particular hole or a hazard by taking action and doing it. Practice in your
mind hitting the shot perfectly, seeing it land on the target, and feeling
the joy of success. If possible, go to the course and hit balls in that
situation so you have a successful memory to access.
2. Let go of the attachment to fear. Feel the fear and then do it anyway.
The fear of embarrassment is worse than feeling embarrassed. Enhance your
self-esteem by doing what you are afraid of. "We have nothing to fear but
fear itself." --F. D. Roosevelt
3. Believe that when you are upset, you are experiencing some form of fear.
If circumstances are beyond your control, let go of the fear and focus on
what you can control.
4. Make a conscious decision about what you want to experience. Choose to
see the good in all situations, and feel the good feelings as a result of
5. Most people fear making a wrong decision. The solution is to take a
risk and be in control of your life and your golf game. Don't procrastinate
about making a decision because that only increases the fear. If the
decision doesn't produce the results you desire, use your power of choice to
choose again. As you act on your choices, you will become stronger, learn
more about yourself, and the truth about what you want and who you are.
Our personal and national security could be jeopardized by the stressful
world situation we are in now. As in golf, it now becomes especially
necessary for us to maintain inner peace and live in the present amidst all
of the possible "what ifs". Perhaps this story will bring you some solace
in our troubled world.
"There once was a King who offered a prize to the artist who would paint the
best picture of peace. Many artists tried. The King looked at all the
pictures, but there were only two he really liked and he had to choose
One picture was of a calm lake. The lake was a perfect mirror for peaceful
towering mountains were all around it. Overhead was a blue sky with fluffy
white clouds. All who saw this picture thought that it was a perfect
picture of peace.
The other picture had mountains too. But these were rugged and bare. Above
was an angry sky from which rain fell, and in which lightening played. Down
the side of the mountain tumbled a foaming waterfall.
This did not look peaceful at all. But when the King looked, he saw behind
the waterfall a tiny bush growing in a crack in the rock. In the bush a
mother bird had built her nest. There, in the midst of the rush of angry
water, sat the mother bird on her nest...Perfect peace.
The King chose the second picture. Why? "Because," explained the King,
"Peace does not mean to be in a place where there is no noise, trouble, or
hard work. Peace means to be in the midst of all those things and still be
calm in your heart. That is the real meaning of peace."
"I want to personally tell you that your tapes are fantastic! You have been
able to take me to another level of golf. You are part of my daily life!
-FP, Amateur Golfer
"You restored my confidence and faith in my golf swing so that I can now
swing without thinking. All areas of my mental game are improving."
--JRZ, Amateur Golfer