Control your golf emotions like Zack Johnson.

golf emotions 

Is it difficult for you to manage your  golf emotions during a round of golf? You are not alone. Many golfers, even those on the Tour share this common problem. How often do you see a golfer on the Tour miss a putt then slowly self-destruct throughout the round? Or a golfer on top of the leader board that allows anxiety take hold of their game causing them to miss crucial shots?

Emotional control is a difficult aspect to manage for any golfer, though it is essential to enable you to play optimally. Anger and frustration can keep you trapped in the past. Fear and anxiety can shift your attention to potential outcomes and make it nearly impossible to focus on the current shot.

Which brings us to the only mindset for playing optimally… being focused in the present. When you are immersed in the moment, you are able to keep your emotions in check and are not handcuffed by negative emotions.

Zack Johnson won the 2015 British Open in dramatic fashion and he did so by managing his emotions during the tournament. In a grueling tournament that lasted five days, 76 holes with multiple weather delays, Johnson defeated Marc Leishman and Louis Oosthuizen in a four-hole aggregate playoff to secure the victory.

Johnson was able to stay focused in the moment and birdied the 18th hole in regulation to post 15-under and place him in the playoff.
Johnson continued to demonstrate emotional mastery during critical moments of the playoff where he pieced together two birdies and a bogey to beat out Oosthuizen by one stroke.

In a post-tournament interview, Johnson talked about how he managed his emotions and prepared for the playoff.
JOHNSON: “Yeah, there was emotion there. Clearly because it was the 72nd hole and I had a good round going; that was part of it… I knew mentally I had to get my emotions in check because I had to get ready for [the playoff]… I’m just trying to stay in the moment… I didn’t have any expectations. I did all I can do, and obviously fortunately it went my way.”

What particular strategy did Johnson utilize to focus in the present?

JOHNSON: “When, I was standing there, honestly, I was reciting some quotes that I have in my book just to keep me in the moment. I was doing it all day, all week, and I was getting prepared for a tee shot on 18.”

What can we learn from this?

1 Zack Johnson recognized that his emotions needed to be kept in check and he had a way to do it. How good are you at noticing when your emotions are out of check and do you know how to bring them in check?

2 Its good to have a strategy that helps you stay in the present moment. Zack recites carefully chosen quotes that work for him. What phrases or quotes could you use to help you stay grounded and present when your emotions run high?

3 He says he didn’t have any expectations about what might happen or should happen. How good are you at doing this? How can you get better at letting go of  expectations?


Find a quote or phrase that has personal meaning to you and helps you return to an balanced emotional state. Repeat that phrase during the times when you need to maintain your focus and keep your emotions in check. Since you cannot hold two thoughts in your head simultaneously, repeating a phrase will help steer you away from unhelpful thoughts of the past and the future.

Being present in the present is the best present you can give yourself.

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