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

My two weeks in Dublin are in the rearview, and despite having to spend a lot of time in my hotel room, I had a thrilling time. 

The Workday Charity Open was fun, and The Memorial was incredible. It felt like a Major Championship; the golf-nerd inside me was thoroughly entertained by the conditions and the complete test the event presented the high octane field.

Tournament-winner Jon Rahm deserves every accolade for the four-round performance he put forth. Coming off an iffy performance in the Workday, Rahm was working hard in preparation for the Memorial. I chatted briefly with him on Tuesday afternoon, during a practice round, and his resolve and focus were evident. He appeared to be playing into confidence as he practiced from some pretty challenging spots around the greens. Indeed it also seemed that he had a vision of the upcoming examination.

There is a lesson in that — how important practice rounds are, and I preach this constantly to all of my tournament-playing clients — but we will get to that another time.  

Right now I want to acknowledge Jon Rahm’s performance at the Memorial. He was masterful, not only physically, but mentally and emotionally too.  In fact, in my opinion it was the most complete performance I have seen him assemble, and it was fitting that the victory propelled him to the top of the pile in the Official World Golf Rankings.

Jon Rahm's fitness regimen has improved his golf swing.

There is a lot to be learned from Jon Rahm and his journey.  On the golf course Rahm’s mental and emotion travails have been well documented.  Recognizing his misgivings, he has worked with a former Bomb Disposal expert, Joseba del Carmen, to help manage his emotional outbursts and reactions.  

In the past he has mentioned to me that it has been a work in progress, but he clearly arrived at the top of his game in the most challenging conditions at Jack’s Place.

You may not have access to a Sports Psychologist, or Bomb Disposal expert, but you can apply three principles to help you consistently deal with the inevitable ups and downs and ebbs and flows a round of golf will throw at you.  

Just remember P.A.R

1. P stands for Patience

The dictionary lists the words “forbearance, long-suffering, sufferance, tolerance” as synonyms for patience. What words could possibly be more applicable to the game of golf?

Golfers toss around the word patience at every turn. Indeed it is a cliché that a lot of golfers use but that don’t completely understand.  Instead, consider long-suffering, consider tolerance when golf slaps you around your gills. Be tolerant, be long-suffering; I promise you things will turn around if you just stay in the game. Don’t give in.

2. A stands for Acceptance

A stands for Acceptance.  The ability to accept your fate and not bemoan it is a skill that all of the greats exhibit.  All too often I encounter golfers, who by their actions, and words, are not completely accepting of an event.  This is detrimental to focus and, in the end, performance.

Consider the following statements: “I can’t believe that happened.” “Why didn’t the ball end there?” “How many bad bounces am I going to get?” (Insert your favorite phrase here.)  Eliminate them from your lexicon and become accepting of whatever happens.  News Flash – a golf ball ends up in some crazy places and great golfers accept this reality and use it as an opportunity to show off their skills and powers of recovery.

3. R stands for Resolve

As a noun, resolve means “fixity of purpose or resoluteness”.  Be resolute in resolving problems, finding answers to challenges, and sticking to your purpose when in the heat of competition.

This very mindset is elemental to consistent success.  Success when things are going right and also when your golf swing feels like a folding-up lawnchair and things seem to be coming apart at the seams.  Resolve to be brave, strong, positive and steadfast in mind and approach.

Apart from the odd hiccup, Jon Rahm embraced patience and it showed.  He was accepting of everything (including a late penalty), and he was resolute in his mission… and it paid dividends.

Be like Jon! 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”.

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