December 8,2023


Every successful person has a degree of confidence that has spurred them to achieve their objectives. Where did they get the confidence to reach their goals? Confidence in golf is essential to playing the game to your best ability. Over confidence can be just as bad as lack of confidence. Confidence is a state of knowing and being comfortable with one's-self and one's abilities. Confidence is not about winning or the outcome, but about playing to the best of your capabilities, physically, mentally, and emotionally.

To be able to have confidence in your physical ability, you must have a firm base in your self-image. Being comfortable in your own being is fundamental for developing confidence. Self-esteem is nurtured from an early age. Positive reinforcement was first given by our parents when you were learning to walk or when you had your first homework assignment. As we grew older, many times we heard negative comments that would discourage us. It was then that we had to think for ourselves and decipher what we determined to believe.

What comes first; confidence or the ability? When you were a beginning golfer, you had no knowledge of the fundamentals. With instruction or trial and error you became proficient at some skills. You then had some "confidence" in your newly learned skill. As you progressed your good shots became more frequent and confidence increased. But what happened when you blew-up on a hole or topped a simple shot? Lack of confidence? No, you had yet to acquire the skills necessary to handle that particular situation. Confidence is an acquired skill, just like hitting a delicate sand shot or long drive.

Confidence is not boasting, cocky, pretense of bravery, or swagger. Confidence is a natural expression of ability and expertise. Confident people don't have to tell you they're confident. If they have to tell you, they are mostly likely the opposite. Confident people know themselves and their strengths and weaknesses. If they don't know something, they ask. They are constant learners. In golf, I'm confident that I will hit a long straight drive. My skill set is such that I've had plenty of feedback that supports my belief that I'll hit a good drive. But even though I did all the right things and was positive and confident, the result don't always turnout as expected. Golf is hard! Did I lose confidence? No. Because, knowing myself, I know errant shots will happen. Confidence is not being afraid of mistakes and having ability to owning up to them.

How to build confidence? Pick a skill that you would like to become proficient at. Let's pick a sand shot. First you need to have the right equipment. Second, have a fundamental understanding of what physically you are trying to do, and ideally get professional guidance. Feedback is important and positive reinforcement from your mentor will be critical for your understanding of what the right technique is and the feel. Now you have to do it on your own. Maybe one out of ten shots are good. Each shot that didn't meet the mark was one step closer to doing it correctly. Slowly the improvement will become more frequent and this sand shot ability will develop into a natural movement. The physical aspect of the sand shot has been learned. Note, there is no time table for gaining this physical skill. Now, the training of the mental preparation to hit this shot on the course. This can take as long or longer than physically learning this skill. Confidence is your trust in your training that will produce the desired result.

Can you have confidence without ability or mastery? Absolutely! This goes back to your belief in yourself and understanding your capabilities and limitations. The idea is to put your best effort into each golf shot and accept the results. The visualization of your ideal shot may not occur as often as you would like, but committing to executing it to the best of your ability is confidence. Choose your strategy and pre-shot routine and commit to it. Confidence will come from this commitment.

Confidence is one of the ingredients that make up the list of "playing the game" or the mental side of golf. The subject of confidence could stretch to a full book. You can make this subject as difficult or as simple as you would like. You will agree that confidence is important in all aspects of life's endeavors. Confidence in golf is knowing and being comfortable with one's-self and one's abilities. This healthy approach will make your improvement easier and golf more enjoyable.


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