Mind games: How lessons learned on the golf course can improve your life

Hannah from Cupar in Fife is part of Sport Scotland's Young People's Sport Panel.
Hannah from Cupar in Fife is part of Sport Scotland's Young People's Sport Panel.

Many sports lend themselves to comparison with the ups and down of life in general, but golf is a particularly fertile ground for this kind of parallel.

Long and short goals, hazards to be overcome, frustration and exhilaration, sociability and individuality, the value of practice - the list goes on and on.

And the problems that face all golfers out on the course offer a valuable educational resource to youngsters as they look towards the adult world.

One such is 17-year-old Hannah from Cupar in Fife - a short drive away from the Old Course at St Andrews. She comes from a golfing family and dabbled at an early age but it's only in the last two years that she has taken the sport seriously, cutting her handicap from 26 to 12 at Ladybank Golf Club and learning some valuable lessons along the way.

Here, Hannah - who is a member of Sport Scotland's Young People's Sport Panel - explains how focusing on golf has altered her outlook on life...

Highs and lows

Hannah: Golf didn't come naturally to me. I could pick up the basics of many other sports relatively quickly but golf had me stumped.

However, I managed to transform this frustration into determination. I realised I had to focus on the happiness I felt when I had hit a good shot, to outweigh my sheer fury at the bad ones.

Hannah shows a well balanced set-up in addressing the ball
Hannah shows a well balanced set-up in addressing the ball

From there I was hooked but now I needed to knuckle down and work hard, which is why I see golf as such a valuable learning opportunity. I realised the only way to get what you want out of life is through hard work and persistence.

However, as crucial as practising my swing and my putting was to my improvement, I was overlooking a major aspect of golfing success - the need for mental strength.

I began reading sports psychology books and researching authors who had worked with some of the best golfers but what I didn't realise was the core values it would enable me to transfer to my everyday life.

Three lessons

Here are three of the key learnings I believe can help in all areas of life, sport, school or any other challenge:

1. Stay in the present

In golf this means not allowing your mind to wander during your round. But I think this is crucial in life - it helps you to understand the importance of focusing on what is in front of you and not worrying too much about the future.

If you are thinking about the future, it means there is a lack of detail and attention on what you are currently doing.

2. Commit to a pre-shot routine

In golf this means having a regimented routine you can carry out in order to apply the same level of commitment to each shot. I believe if you behave in a consistent manner, apply your beliefs and morals to all you do, you are more likely to reap reliable results.

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Golf is for everyone - women too.

3. Don't label yourself

If you label yourself, say as someone who always shoots 80, then that is what you will do - because you become what you say you are. In life, too, as soon as you categorise yourself in a negative way it affects who you believe you can become, limiting your growth and chances of success.

Even if you have no desire to take up golf, never overlook the lessons sport can teach you. They can help you realise things about yourself that you would never discover in a classroom.

Hopefully the above tips will help you as much as they've helped me, and remember - education is everywhere!

For more information on how to get into golf, check out our Get Inspired guide.