Major Champion and multiple tour winner Charl Schwartzel reveals his mental-game keys
Charl Schwartzel tips: how to think smart on the golf course
Keeping your form going is a mental challenge. Winning just gives you so much confidence, so your chances of playing well are good. But you need to keep doing the same things to make sure you don’t get ahead of yourself. It’s more a mind-game situation; your mind can start running away from you, and you think, “Wow, I’m doing so well, how long can I keep this up?” You need to keep that under control, and that’s how you continue to play well. You also need to stay calm when things go wrong.
Resetting your goals
Every player needs stuff in mind that you try to reach but for me, these aren’t things I would write down. It’s more things that drive me, which I try to achieve for myself – and so I would have very few specific goals. But you do need something to aim for. Wherever I play, I’m always trying to win. Whether it’s the BMW at Wentworth or the smallest tournament out there, I’m there to win. If you enter yourself into a competition you should do everything possible to play well. I want to play well in the big tournaments, but I try and treat them all the same.
Coping with pressure
The situation is what you think of it. By that I mean if you think you’ve got everything to lose, then you do. If you don’t, then you haven’t. You can be your own worst enemy at times, but it is hard to keep your mind from wandering. The more you get into big positions, the more you are likely to be able to cope. It’s difficult to pin-point how to cope with nerves; it’s just something you learn through gaining experience.
Video: Watch Rory McIlroy explain the mental game keys that turned him into a champion
I don’t make a lot of bogeys; I’m usually pretty solid from tee to green. But for me, I guess it’s about how good I am from the tee. If I drive well, my iron play is normally pretty good; if I get the ball going down the fairway, I’m in for a pretty solid game. That’s the same for most people. Tiger is probably the only player I know who can hit it sideways and still make a score! If you are good off the tee you shouldn’t make too many mistakes. It’s a big key – here are some toip driving tips.
I’ve got a much better frame of mind than in the past. I’m thinking a lot better on the golf course; I’m more positive, and also, with that, my whole game has changed and I’m hitting the ball better.
I have always hit it good, but I would hit a bad shot [in the past] and it was like, “What is that?” and I’d get down on myself. I just feel more positive and believe in myself more.
I suppose this comes with a bit of experience and years of doing the same thing over and over [and knowing that it’s not working]. After a while, you realise maybe there is something wrong. Maybe you’ve got to analyse it. My dad used to tell me – and I hate to admit when your dad tells you something – that I would “get down on myself” and that I was also “too hard on myself”. “You need to be more relaxed and more positive,” he would say. I thought about it, had a good holiday and came back, and it sort of just changed. I just started thinking a lot better.