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Picking your playing partner…


We’ve made it, three months without golf, if you’re anything like me, it’s been a long, LONG time!

As you blow off the cobwebs be sure to check out my “getting back into the swing of things” blog published after the first lockdown. Here I discussed a few of the ways you can ease your way back into the game we love and take the pressure off.

Now if you’re anything like me you’ve forgotten how to swing a club, let alone piece a round together…but before entering into a huge competition it is important to pick your playing partners carefully. In this article we will discuss how your partner can impact your mental state and your overall performance. 

It’s all in the chat

You may well have noticed that you play better with certain partners than with others, but have you ever stopped and wondered why?

In previous articles I mentioned the concept of self talk, and in a similar vein your playing partners can also raise or lower your self confidence. If you’re playing with someone who is better than you (both in handicap, and your opinion) and they offer encouragement then your self-confidence is likely to be improved. This is because they are deemed to know “good golf” and therefore a positive remark has to be earned as opposed to just given.

Similarly if you’re playing in competition with people who heckle you, or try to get into your head, you’re naturally more likely to lose confidence in your ability to perform, whether they mean it or not, particularly if you’re having an off day.

Now for your first few rounds back you may well have a few more duffed shots than you’re used to, and in my case a lot more provisionals off the tee! And with this in mind, particularly after such a long imposed break, you need to play with people who build and inspire you as opposed to jumping straight into a competition when you could be performing worse than your handicap suggests.

Closing Thoughts

Whilst your preferred playing partner will not always be available for a round, it is particularly important during these first few rounds that you play with people who benefit your performance and your confidence. Without this you can risk your scores falling away and most worryingly falling out of love with the game you’ve waited so long to play.

Similarly this is a two way street, and as such you must also think about your comments towards your playing partner. By all means share some banter on the tee, but be aware that your comments can do so much for someone’s performance and you might affect them more than you know.

Be someone people want to play with and not someone people have to play with, it is after all, only a game.

To find out more

For more psychology resources visit psych-chek. To learn more about the effects of verbal persuasion, have a read of this research in a tennis setting.

About the Author

Luke Vidler

An amateur golfer and recent graduate of Chichester University. I have both a BSc and MSc in Sport and Exercise Psychology and am keen to utilise my knowledge in practical situations, even if I can’t help myself!

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