Handling Tournament Pressure
What mindset allows you to have a swing that holds up under the most intense tournament pressure on the professional tours?
The answer is simple, but impossible to achieve with a Western philosophy or mentality of being concerned with the outcome and winning. It starts with the realization that there is no such thing as intense tournament pressure, except what you make of it in your mind.
Pressure only exists if you are concerned about the outcome. Playing a practice round and playing in the U.S. Open are the same exact thing! It is the same 18 holes and Old Man Golf - everything else is irrelevant. You may disagree with this statement, but it is true.
If your mechanics and strategy are good in practice rounds, you should be able to duplicate them during competition. If your game folds when competing, train your mind to stay in the present and let the outcome take care of itself.
Focus on improving your mechanics and strategy. In time you will become a subconscious competent and your execution will be instinctive. The only purpose of the outcome is to let you know where you stand in terms of feedback and what you have to work on to keep improving. You will be a winner when you deserve to be.
It is imperative that you clearly understand that your emotions affect your brain's chemistry and performance. This is important to understand because you are usually relaxed when you are practicing since you are not concerned with the outcome.
When you play a round of golf and focus on the outcome, your emotional state changes because you open yourself to fear, doubt, anger, frustration and other negative emotions. This makes it impossible to duplicate the same relaxed stroke you had while practicing because your negative emotions cause your chemistry to change, which throws your game off.
The outcome only exists in the future. By training your mind to stay in the present, your emotional state will remain calm and steady. This will allow your stroke mechanics to be more consistent and fluid. Plus, your focus and concentration will increase to meet the challenges you encounter since your emotions are not allowed to enter the equation.
In many cases you don't have to be mechanically better than your opponents are. All you have to do is be even or not too far behind their skill level.
If you are good enough to be close during a tournament, your opponents will start to worry about the outcome and create self-imposed pressure. They will end up beating themselves. By staying in the present and ignoring the outcome, you will not beat yourself and increase your chances of winning.
P.S.: Winning at golf is more than just getting more distance. It is about SCORING. And here is a book that I can recommend to help you learn more about course management.