The most important thing to understand in building an outstanding mental game is this formula: how you think dictates how you feel and how you feel dictates how you perform.
If you feel your best you will play your best. Most people believe that their results dictate how they feel. They believe this due to conditioning, just like Pavlov’s dog. For example, if I hit a drive in the fairway, then I can feel good. In reality, I can actually feel good before I hit my drive and after I hit my drive and actually anytime that I choose to.
On the golf course or anywhere in your life keep this strategy in your mind: catch-own-replace. Anytime you feel some sort of negative emotion take ownership of the situation- you are feeling a negative emotion because you are choosing to react this way. NOT because of the situation itself. Once you have owned this fact replace the negative emotion with a positive belief or thought. For example, you hit a 5 foot putt that looks like it is going right into the center of the hole and the ball actually goes down into the cup but hits the edge of the inner plastic liner inside the hole and jumps up and out of the hole. Your reaction to that scenario is up to you! Most people would probably react saying; “WHAT?! I am so unlucky! This isn’t my day.” Catch yourself in this moment and take ownership of the fact that you have the ability to think whatever you want about this situation and replace it with something that serves you better. This might seem difficult at first but through practice you will start to get good at controlling your state and setting yourself up to feel good about the next shot. You could replace these thoughts with anything that helps you feel good. An example might be, “I made that putt, yes!”
On the golf course incorporate the shooters mentality- this is where you choose to believe ANYTHING that makes you feel good. For example, every law of the Universe says that I will make this putt. It doesn’t have to be statistically correct or even make sense. You can believe ANYTHING as long as it helps you feel good. If you hit a bad shot, catch-own-replace if you need to and create any sort of new belief that will help you feel good for the next shot. For example, the last time I got a bad break like that I actually birdied the next hole! Now I’m going to capitalize on this situation and make a birdie!
Remember, the objective is to keep yourself in the highest state of mind that you can every moment. This is a muscle you will have to exercise and work at in order to get great it. Keep building that muscle and make it a habit of your life!