Dec 01

How to Turn Around a Bad Round of Golf

Turning Around a Bad Round of Golf

Have you ever found yourself playing poorly and that a bad round of golf snowballed into an even worse round of golf? We have. These are the types of days where you three putt when on the green in regulation, find yourself behind a tree when you miss the fairway, and find yourself plugged when you hit it in the sand. But how can you turn things around when everything seems to be going wrong? Here are some tips to help you learn how to turn around a bad golf round.

1. Don’t give up.

If you start feeling sorry for yourself and want to quit, your game will reflect this lack of energy and emotion. Stay positive and believe that things will get better. Think of yourself as your favorite professional golfer and keep fighting!

2. Deal with your Emotions

Anger, frustration, sadness, depression – golf can cause a wide variety of emotions, especially when our dreams are shattered by an untimely triple bogey. You need to deal with your emotions the right way so they don’t turn a few bad shots into a bad round. Anger rarely helps your golf game – it just tenses up your muscles and keeps you from swinging freely. It also clouds your thought process and causes you to make bad decisions. It’s okay to get angry, but you can’t let your anger affect your next shot. That means your anger must be short lived. The goal is to get your mind in the right place before the next shot. Try changing your focus. While making sure to breathe, create a small game that can distract you from the past, such as trying to hit the next fairway after a bad hole instead of trying to make a birdie.

3. Have a Short Memory for Negative Events

The biggest cause for a bad round that snowballs into a horrible round is negative thinking. We fixate on the previous hole and what we did wrong or perhaps a bad break. Our mind turns negative and it’s hard to put the right focus on the next shot. We’ve already discussed how a negative mind will create poor shots. Use a bad hole as an opportunity to practice the art of leaving the negative behind and starting fresh on the next hole or even the next shot. Thinking about your score rarely helps you play better. Thinking about prior bad shots never helps you play better.

4. Find a Positive Memory

Find a positive memory of a previous time when you hit a good shot on your current hole or golf course. It doesn’t have to be a great shot, just a solid shot down the middle of the fairway or to the middle of the green. The goal is to fixate on something positive. Play that shot in your mind a few times before hitting your next shot.

5. Go to your Backup Swing

Fix your swing during the golf round ONLY if everything else seems to be going wrong and nothing else will right the ship.  However, the goal isn’t to make a wholesale change to your golf swing. The goal is to have a backup swing that is more conservative and that you know will keep the ball in play. For example, I played a slight fade most of my junior golf and college golf career, but I worked on my swing and turned it into a slight draw. However, when my new swing got wild and nothing I could do on the golf course would correct it, I always had this fade swing in my muscle memory. I would turn back the clock and use this old swing to hit the fairway, hit the green, and make a few pars. The goal was to find something you knew would work vs. trying to create a whole new golf swing on the golf course. Find a backup swing that keeps you in play although it may not be the longest shot in your bag. Another good alternative is to just choose to hit clubs that you’re comfortable with. If you’re driver is erratic, just keep it in the bag and play more conservatively until your confidence with the club improves (that day or perhaps down the road).


When you find yourself struggling on the golf course, if you keep a positive attitude and believe that better things are coming, then you give yourself the best chance of turning around a bad round of golf.

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