By Paul Myers
If you watched any of the recently completed Presidents Cup, you saw golf being played under maximum pressure. Professional golfers are used to hitting shots with high stakes, but those stakes are turned up a notch when there is a team competition involved. The players want badly to do well not only for themselves, but also for their fellow team members and their millions of fans.
Sometimes the pressure brings out the best in the players, and sometimes it brings out the worst. While you will likely never hit shots under the kind of pressure that was experienced at the Presidents Cup, you will still feel nerves kick in from time to time on the course. Whether you are playing a friendly match against your buddies or a tournament at your club, you want to be able to perform your best when the pressure is the highest. That is a task which is easier said than done, so consider using the tips below to help sharpen your game when the nerves set in.
Slow Everything Down
The first key to playing well under pressure is to simply slow everything down. Actually, you probably won’t be slowing down, but you will feel like it because your natural tendency is going to be to move fast when the pressure is on. As you start to get nervous, everything you do will speed up, from walking and talking to swinging the club. Making a conscious effort to slow yourself down will help you to maintain the tempo of your swing and allow you to continue to produce good shots even as the butterflies float around inside.
Pick Safe Targets
One of the worst things you can do while feeling the pressure is to hit overly-aggressive shots at dangerous targets. You are already nervous – don’t add to those feelings of anxiety by picking out an aggressive target that will require a great swing to reach. Instead, find a safer path that you can use to get your ball in position. It is hard to remain patient in pressure situations, but that is exactly what you have to do in order to succeed. Nearly every golf hole in the world has a conservative line that can be used, so it is your job to find that line and then execute a swing.
Keep It Light
No matter how badly you want to perform well on the course, getting too uptight about your performance isn’t going to help you play well. Instead, take the opposite approach and try to keep yourself relaxed and at ease during the round. Make conversation with the other players in your group, enjoy the scenery around you, and simply appreciate the opportunity to play golf for a few hours. It is amazing what a little perspective can do in terms of calming your nerves and allowing you to perform at your highest possible level.