Golf Mental Golf lessons from second place in the 2015 US Open

A Bad Start Doesn’t Need To Affect You

improve golf toughness

A bad start in golf can certainly affect a golfer’s mindset for the rest of a tournament.

Think of it for a moment… You start of double bogeying a few holes and you find yourself several strokes behind early in a tournament. Your putting doesn’t feel right. You feel it is impossible to catch the leaders. You might jump to the conclusion, “I just don’t have it today” or “I will never be able to make up these strokes,” or “I can’t comeback from this deficit.” Due to those faulty assumptions, you may unconsciously have a letdown and no longer go for your shots like you normally would.

Your mindset (or your attitude towards obstacles/ challenges) affects what you believe you can accomplish and, more importantly, your response to your circumstances.

Negative Mindset

A negative mindset looks for all the reasons or excuses that something is not possible such as, “It has never been done before,” “I can’t putt under pressure” or “I always play poorly on this course.”A negative mindset causes a golfer to mentally give in even before play has finished.

Positive Mindset

A positive mindset focuses on the possibilities in the present. A positive mindset says, “Just because it hasn’t been done before doesn’t mean it cannot happen now” or “Let’s go for it and see how this plays out.” A positive mindset is objective and looks for opportunities to succeed not reasons to fail.

Louis Oosthuzien and the 2015 U.S. Open

Louis Oosthuzien faced daunting odds during the 2015 U.S. open. Oosthuzien shot a 77 during the First Round of the U.S. Open. Through the first 20 holes, Oosthuzien was nine over par and in danger of missing the cut. According to past precedents, getting near the top of the leader board was highly unlikely.

Oosthuzien could have easily have thrown in the towel and just have gone through the motions of playing, but Oosthuizen managed to fight back. Oosthuizen came back with scores of 66-66-67 on the next three Rounds to finish tied for second. Oosthuizen scored a 29 on the back-nine of the Final Round to tie a U.S. Open record and finished only one stroke away from the tournament winner.

Some say it was an improbable second-place finish, but not for someone with a positive mindset.

How was it possible for Oosthuizen to make such a remarkable comeback? Oosthuizen maintained a positive mindset looking for opportunities in the present to make shots, “I [Oosthuizen] could have easily shot a big number after that start. I just fought and tried to have a good week.”
A further look into Oosthuizen’s mindset provides insight into how to remain positive. Oosthuizen stated in his post-tournament interview, “I just kept on playing. You get rounds like that. But I am proud of myself the way I came back and kept on playing and knew my game was not far off. — I could have easily had a horrible Friday and watched this on television.”

You can learn a lot from from Oosthuizen’s 2015 U.S. Open performance, including the key characteristics of a positive mindset.

  • Stay focused in the present. Just keep playing.
  • Know that there will be some bad shots, bad holes and even bad scoring rounds. It happens to every golfer, it’s a part of the game.
  • Find a way to keep fighting. Give yourself a chance. Who knows… maybe you can pull off the dramatic comeback.
  • Give yourself a motivating challenge to go for, that helps keep you excited and interested in competing. Making the cut. Beating your course record in the next round.

 Don’t dare back down… Dare yourself to be great!


For the next 3-5 rounds ask yourself these coaching questions.
How well did I stay engaged and motivated to play competitively throughout the 18 holes?

Score 1-5

How well was I able to let go of poor shots and poor holes ?

Score 1-5

What can I say to myself to help me stay engaged and competitive when I have a bad hole or two ?

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