golf psychology

March 2, 2021

Author: Sue Shapcott, PHD & Nick Randall PGA Tour Strength and Conditioning Coach


What if something simple was holding back your golf progress? For many players, something simple does – their beliefs about what constitutes ability. If we told you that you are probably one of those golfers, would you be willing to challenge your beliefs about what ability is? Or even change them? Our guess is that you would at least want to hear more.



So here we go. Let’s first define the term we will use to talk about belief systems – our mindset. Carol Dweck, a Stanford psychologist, coined the phrase mindset to describe whether people had a fixed or growth mindset about ability. On one end of the mindset continuum is a ‘fixed’ mindset. That is a belief that ability is innate and ingrained in your DNA – you have either got it or not. At the other end of the continuum is a ‘growth’ mindset. A growth mindset entertains the belief that ability is something that can be developed with strategic practice and effort.



Educational psychologists have learned that where we sit on that mindset continuum can predicts a range of behaviors including motivation, resiliency, and performance. To cut to the chase, a growth mindset in golf is associated with behaviors that will assist your learning. You will seek help to improve, perceive learning as a process, frame setbacks as learning opportunities, practice hard, and consequently be successful.


In contrast, a fixed mindset perpetuates a notion that some people are born golfers and others are not. These players become defensive when given feedback (because they think feedback is a judgement of their ability). Inevitable setbacks are framed as evidence of no talent, and consequently, motivation dwindles, and success becomes fleeting. Where do you think you fall on the growth-fixed mindset continuum?

In our respective instruction and fitness businesses, we see Dweck’s mindset theory play out daily. The golfers who make the most progress in our programs are not the ones with the most ‘natural ability,’ but the ones who work with us to develop an improvement plan, stick to it, and see learning as a process.



We are not saying that if you just have a growth mindset about golf and fitness ability you will become a world champion. And that is not what we sell in our golf improvement plans – far from it. But we do know that developing a growth mindset about ability will increase your motivation, improve your practice strategies, and help you fulfil your potential. And let’s be honest, how many of us can say we do that very often? Golfers with a growth mindset are not consumed by appearing ‘good’ or ‘bad’ at a task. They are not trying to impress us with their strength or ball flight.  Instead, they show up to learn, be challenged, and are willing to put in the effort it takes to succeed.

Regardless of what else you do to improve your golf game, consider underpinning it with a growth mindset. You may be amazed at how differently you respond in golf lessons, how you react after bad scores, or how your attitude towards fitness programs improves. Until you start seeing your golf ability as something that can develop, your search for golf’s magic pill will remain frustratingly elusive.


For the best fitness services in the golf industry contact Nick Randall and get started right away.

And if you want to read more articles like these, go here

Co-authored by: Wisdom in Golf