Many people use golf for many things. Perhaps you use it for exercise to keep you young and spry. Maybe you use it for “me time” to get time for yourself away from the fam. Perhaps you do it to fuel your competitive spirit. No matter how you currently use golf, I’d like to encourage you to also intentionally start thinking of golf as a viable way to support your mental health. 

If your mental health isn’t something you think about, I’d like to encourage you to do so. If it is something you think about, pause and pat yourself on the back. Good, bad, or neutral, mental health affects every part of our body. And you deserve to be a full, well person in as many ways as you can. This isn’t the first time I’ve preached about mental health in the space and you can believe it won’t be the last. Think about your mental health as important as your dental health. It’s always better to catch something early than to wait and need a root canal. 

So let’s think of golf as the fluoride treatment for your mental health. Using golf intentionally can help to reverse some mental health decay and can prevent new decay from starting. 

Golf puts you outdoors. I’ve talked about attending to your senses while you play golf for the sake of your performance. You can use it as a two-for and use it to clear your mind and connect with your body and nature. With each round of golf that you play, especially on a course you’re familiar with, try to notice something new. As you walk the course swinging your clubs, look for a tree you haven’t noticed before. Maybe take in the birds chirping in a way you haven’t before. This is the equivalent of a relaxing bath. Bathe your thoughts and mind in the relaxation nature has to offer for just a moment. 

Golf requires you to pay attention to your body. Your mechanics and how your body moves is important. Not only is it important to get the ball to go where you want it to go, let’s remember your body keeps you alive. That’s pretty dope, right? There’s strong evidence that gratitude practices improve mental health. So while you’re out on the course, notice the way your body moves as you swing a club or how it carries you from hole to hole if you’re walking. Find a way to appreciate the way your body allows you to get out and play this beautiful game. 

Finally, if you have followed ANYTHING I’ve said, you know that I think being present and focused on the now during your golf game is key to a successful round. Well guess what, if you’re present and focused on the now while you golf, you aren’t thinking of all the other garbage going on in your life and in the world. If you use your golf game as a respite from the news, your life stressors, difficult relationships, and so on, you’ll notice that that little break can do wonders in improving your mental health. 

One of my core beliefs is to work smarter, not harder. If you can use the game you love to improve your mental health why wouldn’t you? Remember, if you take care of your mental health at least as well as you do your dental health you’ll be able to play the game you love even longer!

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.