One of my favorite parts of the 2022 Master’s was watching Scottie Scheffler four-putt the final green to win. That may sound a little mean to call it my favorite but hear me out. I wasn’t experiencing schadenfreude, I enjoyed watching him handle it. Leading the field by a lot in the final hole at Augusta National must be one of the most intense experiences a golfer can have. Yet, the antidote to the pressure – the way to get out of the situation and into victory – was to laugh. 

His caddie, Ted Scott, didn’t get technical or foster overthinking. Sure, they read the green. That’s just what you do. But even though it would have been easy to go down the technical rabbit hole, they quickly addressed what needed to be done and then lightened the mood. Just like when I carry ALL of the groceries in at once – strategizing about how to carry the bags more efficiently won’t help, but lightening the load by putting a bag down or handing it off to my husband might do the trick. 

While every moment isn’t the right moment for levity, pressure situations on the course can be perfect for it. Staying relaxed, committed to what you know works, and focused on the moment is the best way to execute a swing how you want. When we feel pressure and begin to overthink, we create a stressful situation where we become physically tense, take bigger risks, and become so focused on what might happen that we create a situation incompatible with success. 

So next time you’re in a pressure situation, find humor. Laugh at yourself, joke about the last shot, make fun of what your playing partner is wearing. It doesn’t matter how you break the ice, just find a way to take a little weight off, use a different set of muscles to smile and laugh, and focus on what you can control at that moment.

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.