“Competitive golf is played mainly on a five-and-a-half inch course. The space in between your ears.” Bobby Jones (One of the greatest ball golfers ever to play)
He wasn’t wrong. In fact I find that more often than not my mistakes tend to be mental rather than physical errors. Disc golf is different from ball golf in many ways but they are both mostly a mental game.
This week's blog is going to be about finding positive things you can do to affect your game. And how you can improve your mental approach to the course. You’re going to have to be your own hype man out on the course. When Nate Sexton was giving a demonstration at SDG he told the crowd “You are responsible for your own confidence out on the course.”
“I’m good at disc golf.”
Say it. Really, say it out loud. You’re not reading a blog about improving your disc golf mental game unless you care about the sport. Your family already thinks you’re disc golf crazy, so just say it out loud.
And if you care about disc golf, you’ve practiced and watched videos on form, and you’ve improved so much since your first round. “I’m good at disc golf.” Isn’t some sort of trick. There are 8 billion people on this planet, 12 million (according to a quick google search) play disc golf. That makes you part of the top 0.0015% of people in the world at the sport. You are good at this sport.
When you’re lacking a little confidence, remember that you’re one of the best. No buts about it.
I find this is one of my key points for advanced players during lessons. They see themselves as not good players simply because someone else is better than them. You are good at disc golf, in fact there’s probably some aspect of the game you’re really great at. Maybe your putting in the circle is awesome. In that case, “I’m really good at putting too.” If you need a little extra motivation, throw an adjective in that statement to help spice it up.
Find positive takeaways when you struggle.
No one has a best round every time. It’s impossible to be perfect every time, even for the #1 ranked player in the world. At some point we all have our worst round ever. That’s just how things work.
Finding positive moments to focus on will help you not think negatively about your play. Maybe you remember that you managed to save par from a spot you’ve never been before. Maybe you had a difficult stance for a putt and you hit it. It doesn’t have to be much, but it has to be something. I had a round where I didn’t get any 2’s. I was playing pretty much par or worse on every hole and even lost a disc. One of my more frustrating rounds of my life, I felt like crying I was so angry.
I looked at the scorecard afterwards and said “Well at least I didn’t have any 5’s.” It wasn’t a good score, but I didn’t have a blowup hole. So that was my positive takeaway for the day.
Be Optimistic. Dream Big.
Back in 2019 we hosted a group of 100 Jewish girls who were exploring the country for the summer as they dealt with someone in their family having cancer. After we had given them water, and a lesson on putting and driving we sent them out to their respective starting holes for their rounds. I went to Hole 4 to help out.
I watched 4 girls who drove about 30-50 feet each and then they ran and picked up their discs and went back to the tee and drove again. A few minutes later I noticed they were still all on the teepad, driving again.
So I went over and told them they had to keep moving, that the girls on Hole 3 would be coming up the hill soon.
One girl said to me that they hadn’t made it into the basket yet. So they weren’t done with the hole. I explained that they would play their second throw from where their drive landed, and then their third from that.
Now you might think “who doesn’t know how golf works?” But I think that this girl had tremendous confidence and optimism. After 10 minutes of instruction she believed that at some point today she was going to ace this hole and then move onto the next one.
So dream big, don’t doubt what you’re capable of.
Your round isn’t over because of a bad hole.
A perfect example of this is Zach Melton of team Dynamic Discs. He had what could be one of the worst blow up holes of his life to start the 2021 Dynamic Discs Open. Imagine it’s your sponsor's big event of the year and you take Septuple bogey.
He could have blamed it on the injury and dropped out. We’d all understand and that would be the end of it. The weather was absolutely brutal and this was only his 6th tournament of the season.
But Melton didn’t let a thing like starting +7 after hole 1 stop him. With 17 holes remaining he managed to card a -1. He did end up missing the cut by 6 strokes at the end of round 3. But he fought back, hard. After that opening hole 11 he shot a turkey of birdies. So when you think you’ve had a bad hole, remember someone else had it worse and turned it right around. That’s some real heart and determination that he showed.
Celebrate your victories.
This is an important one and can be difficult for some folks. To create a positive mindset, really take a moment to appreciate whatever you just accomplished. This will help set you up with a positive mental attitude towards the sport later. It could be something like parking a par 3 that gives you trouble. Maybe you hit the same tree every time you play a round but today you blew right past it. Whatever it is, take a moment to appreciate what you did.
Then you can move on and get to your next throw. But not before you stop and smell the roses.
You’re going to make the comeback putt.
This one is tough for people to accept. You can’t make the putt if you don’t give it a chance. To gain confidence in your putting you have to go for it. You’re going to miss putts from time to time. But you’re going to make that comeback putt. Since your disc is traveling down when it misses the basket it’s going to be closer than you think. The more you go for putts, the better you’re going to get at making them. So instead of fluffing a little putt up that has no chance of going into the basket take a moment and make it. Even if you miss you’re going to be closer than you think, and you’ll make the comeback putt anyway.
I hope this blog lets you pause and think for a moment about being more confident in your game. Take the steps to a more confident round.
“I am good at disc golf.”
Find a positive in your negative.
Be Optimistic, and dream big.
Your round isn’t over after 1 bad hole.
Celebrate your victories.
You’re going to make the comeback putt.
I promise that if you try these techniques you’re going to have a better mental attitude towards the game. A positive attitude is going to increase your confidence from the moment you pull into the parking lot until you hit your putt on 18.
Be a hype man for someone else during a round sometime. I remember watching a Jomez special last year when Eagle was interviewed. He, Nate, and Jerm all agreed that the roar of the crowd after a big shot was what felt the best to them. Be that crowd for someone else sometime. When your buddy has back to back birdies, tell them they’re heating up.
They’ll appreciate it, you’ll feel better, and all of the sudden everyone on the card is playing well.
May your discs miss all the trees,
Andrew Streeter #70397