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Improve your game from your inbox – Risk & Reward

Improve your game from your inbox – Risk & Reward

Golf Psychology by Coen Welsh – Bernd Wiesberger beat Tommy Fleetwood in a play-off to win the Shenzhen International on a dramatic final day at Genzon Golf Club (from

He had to negotiate a tough lie for his second shot onto the green. His drive hit the bank and with an awkward stance for his second shot he could play it safe or try to put it close to win.

(You can see that second shot here:, from

He weighed up his options, took the risk to put it close and managed to get the victory with his subsequent birdie putt.

Often in life and in golf we are loss averse. We tend not to go for a good option because of what we might lose as opposed to what we might gain. This is what we are discussing today – Risk & Reward or Dealing with Loss Aversion.

Tip of the week – Dealing with Loss Aversion

When it comes to money, Daniel Kahneman’s research suggests that the drive to loss aversion is about 1.5 to 2.5 times stronger than your will to win. That means we have a much stronger drive not to lose than to win, even on the golf course.

How this plays out on the golf course is that we would often play a “safe” shot and tell our playing partners we are “managing the golf course”. The reality is that as amateurs we still make mistakes so even if you play the safe shot, you might play a good safe shot, but then put an incredible amount of pressure on your next shot as you have no leeway to make mistakes. This pressure often leads to more mistakes.

So how do we overcome loss aversion? suggests three strategies.

1.) To feel less scared, and stop worrying so much about losing things that don’t really matter. In other words, put your golf into perspective. You still have a day job. You don’t have to pay the bills from your golf. In reality then your golf is a method to relax, not to stress about.

2.) To dare to promote yourself. You’ve played a 6 iron over a hazard hundreds of times. Think positively, follow your pre-shot routine. Commit to the shot and do it again. If you do not ‘promote’ yourself no one else is going to.

3.) To take control of the development of your self-esteem. Imagine that you actually stick that difficult shot. That will build your confidence for the next time you face a similar shot. You can refer back to this incident and tell yourself that you’ve done it before and can do it again.

Of the three, the first one will yield the most results.

Quote of the week

“I don’t have to answer that question anymore” – Kevin Chappell after winning the Valero Texas Open after 180 starts on the PGA Tour.
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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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A Guest Contributor is any of a number of experts who contribute articles and columns under their own respective names. They are regarded as authorities in their disciplines, and their work is usually published with limited editing only. They may also contribute to other publications. - Ed.