Lessons: Playing golf in the present

You hear it all of the time:

focus on the present

play one shot at a time

stay within yourself

Easier said than done right? You know what the problem really is? It’s that we have too much brainpower for this game. Our brains are way overdeveloped to be able to swing these clubs and knock this little white ball around a grassy field to drop it into a silly cup cut out of the ground.

Notice the beauty of a course

What I’m writing here today could just be a big breakthrough for you as it has been for a lot of my clients I work with in my office. You see, most of the athletes I see in my office for help with their mental game are smart, really smart. In fact, some are quite brilliant outside of golf and sport. Out on the course, this can be a problem.

You read all of the time about pros who say that they think of “nothing” out there on the course when they are swinging or going through their preshot routine. This is great advice FOR SOME PEOPLE. And poor advice for others.

For many golfers, much better advice is to DIRECT your mind and give it something to do that is constructive instead of the destructive things you are currently doing with it. You are too smart for golf and so you have to learn how to channel all that mind power.

Golf tee lookout

So, I have a couple main lessons for you here that once you understand, I think you could get a big “Aha” moment that frees your from your destructive thinking.

1. Just because a top pro tells you a certain way to think, don’t necessarily buy into it. Your brain probably works completely different than others. Everyone is unique. I’ve been preaching this for years now and sometimes it seems like nobody is listening. Do not think that advice from anyone in the golf world (including me) is good for everyone.
You’ve got to pick and choose and then trust that when it feels right or you somehow get a sense that this works for you, then it is!

2. I like to fill my mind with what my senses are taking in on the course. If you were to just stand on a course and just put all your attention on what your 5 senses are taking in, you will find many things to occupy your mind so that it doesn’t get in the way of your next shot so that you can play unconsciously.

3. Here’s the biggie. You’ve got to make a commitment BEFORE your round that this is what you are going to do during your next round. It’s a mental skill that you develop, get good at, and then do automatically at some point. It’s not going to happen without some effort and dedication. Too many golfers pay lip service to their mental game and then default right back to their old ways once they are on the course. If you haven’t pre-lived how you are going to think once you are on the course, then you’re unconscious is going to create a strong pull to do what you’ve always done…and you won’t break through.

Start tapping into the power of making a decision and commitment to practice using your mind in ways that support your game instead of being a victim of it. You have this power…use it!

Greens and fairways,


  • John says:

    Thanks Craig, for getting me back on track. I’ve reduced to a 7 handicap, down from 11 since I started with your programme. It took me ages to absorb all the content from your web site(s) and I’ve enjoyed getting sidetracked (EFT, Superlearning and NLP in particular). Just when a was marking time on the course, you produce this masterpiece. Can’t wait to focus on the mental game! Our courses are in the middle of a wet winter in Melbourne, Australia and it’s easy to get distracted.

    John T.

    • Craig says:

      Hi John, Way to go! The offseason is actually the best time to make breakthroughs in your game. That’s how it happened for me. I came back from an offseason of doing self hypnosis and BAM, I shoot my first sub-80 round!
      Greens and fairways,

  • Ric H says:

    Hi Craig!

    I’ve been following your site quite with interest. And I saw this issue on being “present” that I am trying to implement not only in my golf but as a philosophy in life as well!

    Yesterday, before I could even read this article of yours, I had a relaxed Sunday golf with a close buddy and decided I should just throw my cares away and be simply present in the game, enjoy the company of my best friend and enjoy the relatively cool weather (I live in the Philippines where it is usually warm or hot).

    And to my surprise, I scored the best game ever at the course I have been playing for the past 7 years! I scored 23 strokes better than my usual handicap!

    Thanks for sharing this to us. For me, this is the best tip or advice ever at golf and perhaps even for life’s endeavors in general!!

    More power to you Craig!!!

    Ric H.

    • Craig says:

      Hi Ric,

      That is fabulous! Thank you for writing to tell us. You are so right that this applies to life in general. I make it a practice for myself off the course.
      Greens and fairways,

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