7 Mental Strategies to Stay Focused and Lower Your Handicap

When Scottie Scheffler was about to win his first major, his caddy told him to relax and take it all in as they walked down the 18th fairway. 

Remember what happened? 

Scottie four-putted. 

There is a time and a place to stay focused and to let yourself relax on the golf course. Having mental strategies in place before you head out to play will lower your handicap.

The difference between the best professionals in the game and those trying to make cuts on Mondays is all in the mindset.

Here are 7 mental strategies you can take with you to stay focused on the course and lower your handicap. 

Put An Achievable Goal In Place – ON EACH HOLE 

It’s normal to want to lower your handicap from a 20 to a 15. However, that’s a much bigger project than you may realize. Instead, let’s break this down a bit more and set specific and achievable goals for your golf game. 

Start simple like this: 

“Hit the fairway.” 

“Get the center of the green.” 

“Make a two-putt” 

When you start to focus on just the shot at hand, you can really evaluate where your strengths and weaknesses are in your game. 

Develop A Pre Shot Routine For Consistency 

You should have a pre shot routine before every shot that you hit. You’ll want to keep your body moving so you don’t get stiff and pick a great line for your golf ball, but there is a key part to the pre shot routine that many golfers forget. 


You have to visualize the shot you are trying to hit. As you stand behind the golf ball, you will want to look down the fairway and picture your golf ball flying to the target. Be positive in your visualization and put the fear of the bad shots out of your mind. 

Make sure to breathe during your pre shot routine. Even if the golf shot doesn’t work out, keep working with this visualization. It takes time to develop and master, and you have to push through even when the shots are not perfect. 

Be Nice To Yourself 

How many times have you hit a poor shot and then called yourself a not-so-nice name? It happens to the best of us, but it’s not good for your mental game. Positive self-talk is important, and it’s much easier to do this when you analyze and respect the consistency you have made to your game. 

Are you working as hard as the professionals spending hours on the range day in and day out? Chances are, that is probably not the case. 

When you play once a week and only get to practice every other Wednesday night, it’s hard to expect yourself to drop your handicap 5 shots or birdie three holes in a row. Be realistic about the numbers you are shooting, and be nice when one shot doesn’t go your way. 

Find the positive in these poor shots if you look hard enough; there usually is one. 

Do Not Get Caught Up In Other Golfers Games 

One of the biggest mistakes you can make for your mental game is to get caught up in other golfers’ games. You may start playing like these golfers and forcing something from your game. 

It’s fine to look at another golfer’s shot and help them find a ball if necessary. 

However, you will want to try to ignore how they are scoring. Don’t play a mental match; play with other golfers in your group. Stay focused and try to shoot your score, not simply beat another golfer. 

Forget The Last Hole 

The last hole won’t make a difference. It’s done. The only thing that you can do now is try and make the current hole as good as possible. Some professionals have gone out and made a triple bogey on the first hole yet went on to win the tournament. 

Had they stayed fuming all day about what happened on the first hole, they wouldn’t have been able to focus on the rest of their round. 

Forgetting the last hole lets you focus on the current hole and the task before you. You’ll need all the mental clarity you can get to play good golf, so let the last hole go. 

This also includes forgetting about good holes. If you make a birdie, that’s great. Move on and make another one. 

Take Some Deep Breaths Between Shots 

When we get frustrated at ourselves for hitting bad shots (or anything in life), we forget to take deep breaths. Deep breaths help fill your body with oxygen and make it easier to think clearly. 

Having to focus on your game for the entire 4 or 5 hours that you are on the course is just too much. 

Hit your shot, commit, stay focused, and then give yourself a chance to take some deep breaths and look at the surroundings. When you approach your golf ball, you can start to focus again on the shot you need to execute. 

Acknowledge The Trouble – Pick Your Line and Move On 

Amateur golfers love to say things to themselves like “don’t hit it in the water” or “keep it out of the sand”. It’s ok to acknowledge the trouble, but you can’t make the shot you will hit all about the trouble in front of you. 

Instead, acknowledge the trouble see where it is located. 

Pick a line that avoids that trouble, and then execute your shot. 

Stay focused on the positive and visualize where the ball will go. That visualization should not include anything that has to do with the water. 

Final Thoughts 

These mental strategies are difficult to implement immediately. You need to work through this on the course and the range to stay more focused and lower your handicap. Start with one straight shot at a time and see where your game can take you. You may be surprised how low you can go. 

The Golf Bandit
The Golf Bandit

Hi, I'm Jan. I love golf and I have been playing for a while now. I really enjoy trying out new golf clubs and equipment, and like to review them on my blog. I consider myself lucky as I have access to the latest clubs and gadgets, so I can get a feel for how they perform on the golf course. I also like to share my tips and tricks on how to improve your game, so if you're looking for help with that then look no further! Thanks for visiting, and I hope you find something useful here.

Articles: 245

Newsletter Updates

Enter your email address below and subscribe to our newsletter