Q&A: ‘Mistake-Free Golf’ By Dr. Bob Winters (Conclusion)

MISTAKE-FREE GOLF: First Aid for Your Golfing Brain (St. Martin’s Press), a new book by Dr. Bob Winters, is available from major booksellers. Drawing from interviews with golf stars such as 2013 U.S. Open champion Justin Rose, Hall of Famers Raymond Floyd and Nick Price, Michelle Wie and others, MISTAKE-FREE GOLF instructs golfers of all abilities how to specifically correct their mental mistakes and overcome their lack of confidence. Read Part 1.

In this concluding installment of a Q&A series, Dr. Winters addresses another common golf anxiety.

Q&A: 'Mistake-Free Golf' By Dr. Bob Winters (Conclusion) 1
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Q. I have trouble getting off the first tee.

Dr. Bob Winters: Getting off of the first tee box with a solid shot is one of the best harbingers of a good day ahead. However, for many golfers the first tee shot is filled with heightened anxiety and fears of what may go wrong. Golfers will step onto the first tee and become so worried about what other people will think of them that they become very anxious and unable to perform to their natural capacity.

This worrisome fretting that we have when others are watching is termed scientifically as Social Evaluation Anxiety. It happens when we place too much emphasis and importance on what others think about us and renders us incapable of performing to a level that would be otherwise expected as a natural occurrence. Because we are so worried about not failing or embarrassing ourselves in front of others we tend to go into a panic mode and interfere with a process that has been overlearned via practice and repetition.

When we refer to first-tee anxiety, it is highly linked to the anxiety one feels whenever he or she is about to give a speech in front of a group of people. Performance anxiety tends to show up dramatically in public speaking. The reason for the fear is that people are afraid of social censure or rebuke. Whenever speakers or performers are unable to cope with the pressure of appearing stupid, inept or risking their reputation with poor results, fear and dread are paramount.

The key in golf to a successful opening tee shot is to build a solid philosophy about what it is that you want to DO versus what you want to AVOID. Discipline and adherence to a solid starting strategy is vital to a successful day on the links.

Q&A: 'Mistake-Free Golf' By Dr. Bob Winters (Conclusion) 2
Dr. Bob Winters

I think the first component to success for the opening tee shot starts long before you head to the first tee. It is important that you create a mental philosophy that TODAY is about YOU and no one else!

You must train and discipline yourself to have a strategy that suggests that you are going to play for you and play the way that you know you can play.

In reality, no one really cares about whether you have a great day or not. They are too busy worrying about themselves to focus any energy on you.

Although this might sound a bit harsh and unfriendly, it will still be the truth. So, your first priority is to get yourself ready mentally and emotionally to play for yourself and to enjoy your day on the links, good or bad. But by giving yourself permission to enjoy your day from the beginning gives you a good chance to see how good you can become. After all, it is your time and your dollar invested. You might as well make the most of it without the burden of trying to impress others.

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