The Masters is coming, the Masters is coming! I can’t tell you how excited I am for this year’s Masters. Well, I guess I actually can. I’m so excited that I ordered a Taste of Augusta food kit. I’ll be eating pimento cheese sandwiches, noshing on cookies, eating branded bags of potato chips, and drinking out of cups with that iconic Masters logo on it. We’ve even got an outdoor TV set up so we can hear the birds chirping (during breaks from the noise of cars…we’re urbanites here). 

Humble brags aside. The Masters isn’t merely a fun event to watch on TV. It’s inspiring. It’s the first Major of the year and it sure gets us itching to bring out the sticks and hack away on a local course!

So as you prepare to channel that Masters magic into your next handfuls of tee times, let’s also get prepared to shift your mental game into a Masters Mindset!

Rory McIlroy once said that there’s no perfect way to prepare for a major championship. That’s great news for you because as long as you generally implement these next ideas in a way that works for you, you’re likely to see some results!

Many a pro has lamented about the uniqueness of Augusta. The challenge of the course. Not just overall, but even throughout the weekend. This means that golfers need to be able to prepare for the un-preparable. While that might be my daily experience as a golfer – a real hack over here – we’ve got some sure fire ways to enhance what preparation you can do for whatever course you are going to play. 

  • Play different courses. There’s something to be said for joining a club and playing the same course(s) consistently. But guess what, that won’t make you good at golf. That will make you good at that golf course and will likely cause mental game laziness. So if it’s feasible for you, mix it up. 
  • Embrace sucking. If you can mix up where you play, you’ll probably notice that sometimes you suck more than others. The best way to sharpen our mental game is the same way we sharpen most skills. Learn the basics and practice applying it in new scenarios to allow for learning over memorization. 
  • Be adaptable. Sucking sucks. But if you can remain calm and regularly return to ‘neutral’, you will build your skills and find that they transfer easier and easier over time to new situations. The more bunkers you hit out of, the easier it gets to flip through your mental rolodex for a memory that’s similar and apply what you learned to this new lie. 
  • Maintain your routines. Having a pre-shot and post-shot routine will allow you to stay calm and centered, return to neutral, and allow you to face new situations. Each shot you take is a new, independent shot. But if you can maintain a routine as you move into that shot, you’ll feel more capable as you wind your club back. 
  • Visualize. If you can’t play different courses (and let’s be real, even if you can), spend a lot of time visualizing different courses and different shots. With the ease of the internet these days, you can easily access pictures and videos of different courses and close your eyes and picture yourself playing the holes successfully. Fun fact: your brain files these memories away in the exact same way it files away memories where you’re actually playing. 
  • Just do the best you can. If you can pull away pressure and focus on doing the best you can with each shot, you’ll channel the most successful type of Masters mindset possible. 

The best golf in the world is played when a person is present and in tune with what they’re doing. Not when they’re distracted by thoughts and outside distractions. Keep an eye out this year. You might even be able to see the players doing some of these things on the course if you’re really looking for them!

Dr. Chelsi Day

Dr. Day is a licensed clinical psychologist. She is an Ohio native who completed her Bachelor's degrees in Psychology and Health and Sport Studies at Miami University in Oxford, Ohio while competing on the Varsity Swimming and Diving team as a diver. She then went on to earn a Master's degree in Sport and Exercise Psychology from the Chicago School of Professional Psychology followed by a Master's degree and later a Doctoral degree in Clinical Psychology from Antioch University New England in Keene, NH.