Mental Toughness for Golfers: Avoiding Comfort Zones in Golf

A comfort zone becomes a problem whenever a player is playing better than expected or is breaking new ground. I teach golfers how to break out of self-limiting expectations and preconceived beliefs. Comfort zones don't limit great players on tour, such as David Duval, Tiger Woods, and Davis Love, III. Comfort zones actually benefit pro golfers when they can bring a poor round back into their scoring zone and turn a score of 76 into a 72.

When going low, pros don't just try to "get it in the clubhouse" when they get to four under par after 12 holes. If a pro gets to four under par after 12, that's great, but he doesn't stop there. His goal is to get to five under. This attitude, adopted by many professionals, is far from the mindset of the amateur who is playing better than expected or on the verge of breaking a personal best score. In my new book, "Going Low" I teach golfers how to play without the restriction of a comfort zone.

Shooting a personal best round requires many important skills. Great golfers play well because they know how to practice efficiently, are dedicated to improvement, and know the best way to prepare themselves for a round of great golf. I'm not talking about hitting two buckets of balls to get ready for tomorrow's match. Pros are dedicated to quality practice, focused preparation, and improving their games daily. This is the foundation for the development of confidence.

To shoot a personal low round you also need to know how to prepare to play the course, have the ability to make a game plan, and deal with the distractions of the group. You also need to practice in a way that makes your swing repeatable. You must learn how to score your best when it counts, and simplify your game so you can focus on playing golf instead of always working and grinding at it. Going low also requires that you discard any preconceptions about what is and what is not possible to achieve.

The first step to going low is to unlock the self-imposed limits of your own success. I want my students to identify their own mental barriers and unhealthy beliefs that prevent them from consistently playing their best. The next step is to eradicate unhealthy expectations and irrational beliefs so you can unlock your own success. For example, once Roger Banister broke the four-minute mile, everyone broke it because the barrier had been shattered. The first step is to break your own self-limiting beliefs. In articles to follow, I talk more about how to overcome self-limiting expectations and comfort zones.

Dr. Patrick J. Cohn is a master mental game coach who works with athletes of all levels including amateur and professionals. Visit to gain access to over 500 exclusive mental game articles, audio programs, and interviews with athletes and coaches to enhance your athletic potential: or call 888-742-7225.

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