We are all hoping that this will be the season that we play better, score better and think better.
The best place to start is the mental side of the game. Every golfer who has ever played has their demons. The key is to handle them better, accept them and not come off the course with that element of self-loathing and
the knowledge that it was your mind, more than any technical deficiencies, that got in the way of a decent score.
We picked the brains of up-and-coming LET star Annabel Dimmock to find out how she and her colleagues on tour deal with the mental challenges that the game throws up week in, week out.
Keep pushing a good score
I was once in a tournament when I was quite young and I was five under through 15 holes. I thought I had had all my birdies for the day and I thought to myself, just par your way in. But I ended up being two over through my last three holes.
You never know when you’ll get another chance to get another birdie. The frame of mind I take now is that if I’m ve under now then why can’t I go two under through the last holes.
In Abu Dhabi this year I was well under par going down the last hole, I bogeyed it but I was trying to go forward from five under. That’s where a good caddie comes in.
Deal with your bogey hole
If I keep hitting it left on a hole off the tee then I will take a different club, even if it means I have a longer shot in. I’ll just take a different club and mentally it feels like a change of hole.
Zone in on first tee nerves
If you pick a strong target and zone in, then the target takes your mind off everything else that’s going on.
You will never get rid of the 1st tee nerves but you can use ways to channel it in different ways. So if you’re focused on a leaf then you’re so focused on that leaf that your brain switches off more to the rest of it.
React well to a bad hole
You’re always going to make a big score from time to time. When I do, I think at least I won’t make another one for a while now. It’s part of golf, it’s just one of those things. You think to yourself: I can just birdie the next one.
If you get angry about it you’ll make another seven at the next. You have to change your mindset and be patient. Not many rounds in golf are faultless.
It’s fine to think about your score
Of course I’ll know how I’m scoring at any given time. I’m one of those players who knows what they’re scoring. I think it’s good to know my score.
I can’t believe that people don’t have a clue what score they’re on, I don’t know how you don’t know. Charley Hull is one who doesn’t but she is quite different and that is part of her strength.
Work on your weakness
I am currently working a lot on my 80-yard pitch shots as this is one area where I need to sharpen up.
When I was in China I hit it further than the Chinese and the Koreans but they hit it better from 80 yards and would hit it within six feet every time.
I’m one of those players where I try to get it as close to the green as possible and that’s not always the best option.
Stay aggressive with the putter
When I’m putting, especially uphill, I always think you need to make the ball get to the hole and I always picture the ball hitting the back of the hole. Downhill I always imagine the ball just dropping into the putt on the last roll.
I think a lot about the mental side of things and have worked with Dr Karl Morris for about six months now. It’s all very well him telling you what to do but you have to put the actions in yourself and you have to work hard. I speak to him a lot and I email him nearly every day.
Deal with your playing partners
There are a lot of people who try and play mind games out there. That’s just the nature of the game.
Obviously what you don’t want to do is let them get the better of you so I try to turn it around and use it as a positive.
They obviously don’t think that they can beat me just in the golf so they are trying other things.
Once I am thinking in that way then I can easily blank it out and take it as some sort of compliment that they are trying it on in a bid to beat me.
Learn to embrace your fear
You’ll never be able to get away from this so it is a matter of managing it. At first I thought I was the only one and, once you realise it is normal, you feel like you can cope.
I will work on this with my mind coach Karl and there are other things like breathing and yoga techniques that I find really helpful.
When I practise now I find myself playing a lot more. Once you get used to being on the course so much and scoring under pressure then you get used to it more.
When you feel a bit nervous, it just feels normal. A lot of people spend time on
the range and they go into their monthly competition and it’s a shock being on the course. Once you have a fear and you start facing it, you realise it’s quite normal – even Tiger Woods and Rory McIlroy get nervous.