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Improve your game from your inbox – The Power of Words

Improve your game from your inbox – The Power of Words

By Coen Welsh – It’s Masters Week! The excitement is in the air and this week we are looking back to last year’s Masters where Jordan Spieth became the first man to lead the Masters for seven straight rounds and looked set to win a third major after carding four successive birdies to open a five-shot lead with nine holes to play on seven under. But bogeys on 10 and 11 were followed by a quadruple-bogey on the par-three 12th after both his tee shot and third effort found water.

This was almost a carbon copy of Greg Norman’s spectacular collapse in the ’96 Masters. At the time the American admitted he turned to his caddie Michael Greller and said: “Buddy, it feels like we are collapsing.” (Source: BBC Sport) And this is the point we want to focus on in this week’s golf psychology tip.

Tip of the week – The Power of Words

When Jordan Spieth said the words above he was engaging in a concept we call Self-talk. Self-talk is considered a verbalization phenomenon within many athletes where they are addressing themselves. Self-talk has been shown to have both cognitive and motivational functions (or de-motivational in Jordan’s case). The challenge is that by verbalising failure it could possibly have led to more failure. As amateur golfers we often tell our playing partners that we are “having a bad day” or that “the flat stick isn’t working today”, but by verbalising these thoughts we are establishing a pattern and giving ourselves an excuse for failure.

Our tip to fix this phenomenon this week comes from the wisdom of Bob the Builder. When Bob is faced with a challenge he responds with “Can we fix it?” Our recommendation to you to fix this behaviour is to rephrase your thought into a question. So instead of saying “I am having a bad day” rather say “Why am I having a bad day?” The answer will lead you to resolve the issue and not use it as an excuse.

Quote of the week

Golf is the cruellest game, because eventually it will drag you out in front of the whole school, take your lunch money and slap you around. – Rick Reilly, “Master Strokes,” Sports Illustrated.

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Coen Welsh, a qualified industrial psychologist, is an expert on the Antecedents and underlying Psychological Conditions predicting Employee Engagement.He has worked in diverse teams in the UK, Egypt and Namibia. Coen regularly gets invited to speak at HR and other conferences. He is a regular contributor to NBC National Radio as well as Tupopyeni and Off-the-Hook on NBC Television. He is a founding member of the Professional Speakers Association of Namibia. You can visit him at

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