A Great Strategy for Dealing with a Bad Golf Shot

Frustrated Golfer

Bad shots take many golfers emotionally out of their optimal zone of performing. Throwing clubs, having tantrums, internally berating yourself, feeling sorry for yourself, giving up on yourself and cheating yourself of a great “next” shot put you at a disadvantage. When you beat yourself with negativity, you have lost, even if it is in the middle of a round.

The Big 3 Side-Effects of Negative Emotions

  • Lower Confidence – When you emotionally abuse yourself after a bad shot, you are basically telling yourself that you do not have the ability to play well. Trusting your ability to play under a variety of circumstances is the thing that helps a golfer play at a higher level consistently.
  • Expectation of more bad shots – A negative emotional reaction creates an expectation of future bad shots. You are setting forth a negative self-prophecy when you say things such as “What is wrong with me today?” or “I can’t hit a shot to save my life?”
  • Increased anxiety and inability to focus – When you emotions run out of control, you initiate a stress response that takes time to return to your normal state of function. In other words, your negative reaction can leave you anxious and agitated for a long time, even through the rest of the round.

You may not have total control over your emotional reactions but you do have the ability to manage your emotions and therfore respond more advantageously to bad shots.

Here is one way you can do this…

PACE: The Best Strategy to Deal with Bad Shots

 Your attitude and outlook will be your best defence against runaway emotions. By being positive and optimistic in your approach to adversity, you will be able to respond to bad shots with a little bit of P.A.C.E.

PREPARATION: Practice positive responses to bad shots. How can you respond to a bad shot that gives you the best chance to play optimally? Rehearse your response during practice. Repetition will help you develop the habit of responding to bad shots more effectively. Play 18 holes where you have to find something positive to say about every shot you play.Its not easy but the more you practice it the easier it gets. Instead of flying off the handle, work at manage your emotions and your desired response.
If you really cant find something positive then aim to be neutral by just describe the facts. Eg The ball missed the hole on the right side and is 4 ft past the hole. Aim to be neutral in your emotions.

ACCEPTANCE: It is important to understand that golf is an imperfect game and bad shots will happen. Accept the bad shot; it is over and in the past. Refuse to carry the weight of your last bad shot with you to the next shot. Tell yourself, “It’s okay. Bad shot shots happen. What can I do on this next shot?” Acceptance will help keep your emotions in check. The good news is that golf gives you the opportunity to make a great NEXT shot.

CONTROL: By being poised after a bad shot, you will foster a sense of control, “I got myself into this mess and I can get myself out of it.” Having a sense of control will help you take bad shots in stride. When you have a sense of control, your confidence will remain high and you will be better able to adapt and persevere through challenges.

EMOTION: Take a deep breath and tell yourself, “Relax, I’ve been here before.” Your ability to deal with your emotions will put you in position to manage the situation, think clearly and rebound quickly. Think of the challenge in front of you rather than the disaster behind you.


Practice P.A.C.E. strategy. Reading and understanding the concept is one thing. Applying the strategy is what will change your game. Set aside some time on the practice course to work on managing your emotions after a bad shot. Decide on a cue that will remind you of the P.A.C.E. strategy during tournaments (Maybe you write the word on your hand or golf bag). This cue will help you switch your mindset from what has happened to what needs to happen now.

By responding to mistakes with a little P.A.C.E., you can keep your game moving forward.



Do you have an effective post shot routine?

How does your reaction to bad shots affect your next shot?

What could you begin to implement these techniques into your regular golf game.

I welcome your comments on this subject.

Happy golfing

Coach Mark