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Improve your game from your inbox – Get into the Flow

Improve your game from your inbox – Get into the Flow

Coen Welsh on the Psychology of Golf – The best place to be on the golf course is to be in “flow”.

Daniel Berger won the Fed-Ex St. Jude classic for the second time in two years. He managed to defend the title he won in 2016 and did so with a final round of 66.

Charley Hull finished second at last year’s ANA Inspiration and at the time she said: “You really want to do well but you are not thinking about it. And you make some birdies coming in and then you are thinking I never got ahead of myself. I don’t think about golf when I’m actually on the golf course, I just kind of go with the flow and just hit my shot when it’s ready and don’t think about it after.”

Berger said a similar thing this week as he won the St. Jude Classic. “I just hit so many good shots coming down the stretch and I can’t even explain. It’s just — I feel like I wasn’t even on the golf course. It just kind of happened.”

These two top golfers illustrate a concept in psychology we call flow. Flow is a state of mind where you are challenged to the limit of your ability, but yet you feel able to rise to the challenge. It is in this state of mind that most people do their best work. The question then is how do we attain flow?

Tip of the week: Stay in the moment

There are [at least] two issues in golf when thinking patterns are examined. Either getting ahead of yourself or dwelling in the past.

When you think “I need two pars on the last two holes to beat my best ever score,” it is getting ahead of yourself or the alternative is dwelling on the past e.g. when you think “I messed up on 13, AGAIN!”

Both kinds of thinking can easily destroy a good round.

Golf provides an excellent platform to apply what we call, centring.

A natural part of golf is walking between shots. Use this time to focus on other things, chatting to your partners and just to enjoy what you are doing. If your partners are not the talkative type, try to focus on your breathing. Feel the air going into your nostrils, filling up your lungs as your chest expands and then feel the release as you exhale through your mouth.

I have referred to breathing exercises in the previous post. This exercise flows from that. Trying to maintain your breathing to a specific tempo allows you to focus on the next shot and allows you to stay in flow.

All that is left then is to trust what you have practised on the driving range and just “go with the flow” when you’re on the course

Quote of the week

“Golf is a compromise between what your ego wants you to do, what experience tells you to do, and what your nerves let you do.” -Bruce Crampton

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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.