Golf Psychology - Thoughts + Feelings= Intentions, The Key to Golf's Mental Game

Joe Culverhouse
  • Author: Joseph Culverhouse
  • Manager - GLT Content and Communications
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Adam Scott 2012 Open


In today’s edition of the GLT Mental Game of Golf series, we will examine the importance of a process focus through a concept known as T+F= I, Thoughts plus Feelings equals Intention.

It’s a catchy title, but what’s it all mean? Buckle up, Team GLT is about to drop a whole batch of Golf Psychology on you.

GLT's free PDF Quickstart Guide of Golf's Mental Game is available here.

Thoughts are the language of the brain. Feelings are the language of the body. We, as both humans and golfers, feel what we think. Our reaction to feeling what we think is to think what we feel. I know, it sounds a bit circuitous and confusing, but keep reading, it will all become clearer shortly.

Since we feel what we think, and in turn think what we feel, process focusing our thoughts fills us with relaxing feelings that originate from the knowledge that we are attempting to control something that is within our power to control.

In essence, our brain, body & intentions are aligned when we are in a relaxed state, a state created by the feelings created by focusing on situations we can control rather that allowing outside stresses and outcomes to dominate our thoughts. And, as it just so happens, the state created when our thoughts and feelings equal our intentions just so happens to be the state required for performing to the best of our abilities. Think of it as a hack to the mental game of golf.

Still not sure? That’s okay, sometimes it’s easier to grasp a concept when presented with an example. For that, let’s take a look at Adam Scott.

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Adam Scott’s mental game of golf is practically Dickensian. Let’s begin with his performance during the 2012 edition of The Open. In the final round, Scott carried a three stroke lead. Then, in the holes in and around the turn, he began to let thoughts of the win interfere creep in. He lost sight of the process. His thoughts and feelings were no longer directed towards the task at hand, but rather something he could not control. As he stood on the green at 18, needing to hole a birdie putt to force a playoff, the ball rolled just left of the hole.

There would be no Major that day for Adam Scott; however, there would be a lesson about the challenges and necessities of golf’s mental game. Flash forward to the following April. Adam Scott would finally get his playoff for one of the PGA Tour’s Majors. And, at Augusta National, on the second hole of a sudden death playoff against Angel Cabrera, Adam Scott would persevere to become the proud owner of a snazzy Green Jacket. Faced with perhaps the greatest stress imaginable in PGA competition, playoff holes to become a Masters champion, Scott was able to maintain a process focus. He no longer thought of the score, the windfall that would come from such a prestigious win, or what would be on the menu the following year during his Champion’s Dinner. He simply thought of the process. His thoughts and feelings aligned with his intention. He became a master of golf’s mental game.

To see how you can further develop your mental golf game, follow along as Team GLT continues to dive deeper into golf’s mental game, and be sure to check out the first article in the series, What Is Golf’s Mental Game? Next in the series, we’ll examine the Godfather of golf psychology, Bob Rotella.



Adam Scott Masters


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