How being grateful can help your golf game (and your life)

happy golfer

Gratitude can benefit you golf game.

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The 2020-21 PGA Tour season kicked off in Napa, Calif. … and I enjoyed a week away from professional golf. But even though I wasn’t out on Tour, I was still involved in the game. I gave golf lessons for the first time in a long while. I worked with my Columbus State University golf teams. I watched my eldest daughter play in a couple of middle school golf matches, and I enjoyed time at home. 

It was a much-needed recharge and, to be honest, I did not watch much of the action at the Safeway Open. However, I did catch a few of the tournament highlights and I was beyond excited to see Stewart Cink return to the winner’s circle.

Cink was obviously emotional after the win and his post-tournament comments were poignant, moving and insightful.  (There were also a few golf lessons weaved into his words including):

“I just had a lot of gratitude in my heart … I went over to her (wife, Lisa) and I just leaned in and told her we got a lot to be thankful for.”

The power of positive thought — and how it can help you play better golf

By: Mark Immelman

As a college coach and an instructor to hundreds of competitive golfers I have preached this message ad nauseam. I truly believe that adopting a thankful outlook, both on the course and off, has a positive and uplifting influence on one’s life, and by extension, performance. My beliefs have been confirmed upon further reading, research, and discussion with multiple leading sports psychologists, including Dr. Bhrett McCabe, Phil Shomo and Dr. Josie Perry (who have been guests on my “On the Mark” Golf podcast).

Consider the following observations from Taylor Montgomery of themvptraining.com:

Gratitude is linked to physical and psychological health 

“Grateful people report fewer aches and pains and are more likely to take better care of their health. In addition to physical health, gratitude has positive effects on our psychological health. In fact, research shows that gratitude improves well-being, increases happines, and reduces depression.”

Gratitude improves self-esteem

“When we have low self-esteem it creates psychological baggage that impairs our ability to focus and process information—two things that are vital to a successful athletic performance. Self-esteem refers to an internal belief an athlete has about themself. One way to improve self-esteem is by practicing gratitude. One study found that grateful athletes have an increased self-esteem.”

Gratitude promotes better sleep

“Sleep is a huge part of the recovery process for athletes given the strenuous amounts of physical training. Utilizing a gratitude journal before bed has been associated with better and longer sleep. Some athletes report pre-performance jitters the night before a big performance, resulting in inadequate sleep.”

Gratitude facilitates resilience

“Sports aren’t for the faint hearted. The days can be long, the practices can be grueling, and results can sometimes be frustrating.  Practicing gratitude and recognizing everything you have to be thankful for – even during hardships – facilitates resilience.  An attitude of gratitude can help reframe a setback and kickstart your way back to optimal performance.” 

How to control your temper and play better golf, in 3 steps

By: Mark Immelman

And probably most importantly (from my point of view) being grateful makes you a better partner and a more fun golfer to play alongside. You have all been subjected that one person who gripes and moans and finds fault with everything from when he or she arrives at the course. Yes, that person you probably try to avoid ever since.

Being grateful, for everything, is a mindset, a discipline and a habit. You can cultivate that habit by trying something my wife, Tracy, put in place in our home. We have a “Gratitude Jar”. This jar is located in our living room with a pen and notecards alongside. Whenever something good happens we note it on a card and drop it into the jar. In the end of the month reconciliation, it is incredible to see how many good events have taken place. Get in the habit of doing this for a little and you will turn your attitude. 

Apply said attitude while on the golf course (and even keep a Gratitude Golf Journal), and watch your results improve.

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Golf.com Contributor

On-course announcer and analyst Mark Immelman is passionate about the game of golf. As a decorated instructor, award-winning NCAA college golf coach, and an accomplished golfer, Mark brings a robust knowledge and vast experience to his role as a television broadcaster and golf instructor. He is currently a Golf Analyst for CBS Sports HQ, and an Analyst and On-course Announcer for CBS Sports and Golf on CBS. He currently also serves as a Studio Analyst and an On-course Announcer for PGA TOUR Live  for PGA TOUR Live.

The older brother to 2008 Masters Champion, Trevor Immelman, Mark grew up in Somerset West, South Africa. After a successful amateur career in South Africa he was offered a golf scholarship to Columbus State University (Columbus , GA). He enjoyed a prolific collegiate tenure highlighted by his four-time All-America selections, two-time Academic All-America awards, and two NCAA Div. II National Championship victories. After graduation, Mark had a short season as a playing professional, but quickly turned his attention to his true passion – golf teaching.

As a golf instructor, Mark believes in cultivating ability and talent by providing comprehensive, holistic golf instruction that is easily understandable and of the highest quality to golfers of all abilities and skill levels. His passionate approach and keen knowledge of the game have led to him being a sought-after mind by leading Professional and Amateur golfers alike. Through his career he has taught and/or consulted to PGA TOUR and European Tour professionals and tournament winners such as: Larry Mize, Loren Roberts, Trevor Immelman, Scott Brown, Patton Kizzire, Louis Oosthuizen and Will Wilcox. He has been recognized as one of “Golf Digest’s Top 20 Instructors Under 40”, Golf Digest’s “Best Teachers in the State of Georgia” and Georgia Trend Magazine’s “Top 40 Under 40 – Georgia’s Best and Brightest”.

As a NCAA College Coach at Columbus State University (since 2001) Mark continues to coach the Columbus State Men’s Golf Team and his program is a perennial contender for Conference and National Titles. He is a two-time NCAA Div. II Atlantic/Southeast Region Coach of the Year, two-time Peachbelt Conference Coach of the Year, and the 2009 NCAA Div. II National Coach of the Year.

In 2019 Mark was selected as Captain and Coach of the (Arnold) Palmer Cup International Team. His team triumphed over the United States Team in the Palmer Cup Matches held at The Alotian Club outside of Little Rock, AR.

Mark’s additional broadcast duties include being a guest analyst on the CBS Sports “First Cut Podcast”. CBS Sports also uses Mark’s unique voice for audio and promotional PGA TOUR advertisements and promotional reads.

He has also served a 6-year tenure as a Play-by-Play Announcer for Sirius/XM PGA TOUR Radio.

Additionally, Mark hosts “On the Mark”, a PGA TOUR Podcast, which to date has been downloaded more than 3 million times in more than 125 countries.

He has also written golf instructional columns and articles for Golf Digest SA, Golf Digest USA and is currently penning instructional pieces for Golf Magazine. As an author, Mark has published two e-Books on golf instruction: “Scandalously SImple – The Easy Way to Accurate Golf Shots” and “Golf is a Game of Recovery”.

You can learn more about at MarkImmelman.com