I have had the pleasure of playing with some very talented golfers throughout the years in various tournaments during my high school and college days, and since then. Most great golfers share similar traits and work ethics.
I hope you can draw some inspiration from this list, and a lot of these topics are discussed in my new book. Great golfers might have different swings and body types, but all of them share the following 7 traits.
Honesty can mean many things in golf, but it mostly has to do with whether or not you are being honest with yourself, and your game. Great golfers are always realistic with their abilities on the course.
If they know it’s unlikely they can carry the ball over the water hazard with the wind in their face, they will lay up. When there is a really tight fairway, and they feel they can't keep the ball in play with their driver, they will take out an iron. Rather than deceive themselves, the effective golfer is always honest with themselves on every shot.
2) Staying Present
It’s not often you see a golfer make a double bogey, and then rattle off a few birdies. That’s because most golfers have a hard time putting their mistakes behind them, and it usually carries over to the next few holes.
The best players have very short memories. They might show some disappointment when they make their occasional blunders, but it’s already behind them by the time they get to their next shot. They have a remarkable ability to stay in the moment, and maintain their focus on the shot at hand.
3) Practicing With Purpose
There is a player at my course who has been one of the best players in our region for about 20 years. Every time I see him finish a round, he is on the range working. He is trying to fix whatever wasn’t feeling right during his round, and correct the mistake.
Rather than showing up and just hitting balls for the sake of hitting balls, he is practicing with purpose. He has a specific goal in mind, and his session revolves around achieving it.
4) A Great Short Game
I have never been around any elite player that could not get up and down from anywhere. The best player I ever competed against in high school sank more 8 foot putts for par than I have ever seen. No matter how bad of a day he was having with his tee shots or irons, this guy could save his round and remain around par with his wedges and putter.
You can’t be a great golfer without a stellar short game…period.
The best golfers don’t get to where they are without having a deep love and passion for the game. Why else would you hit thousands of golf balls trying to get better? Great golf requires a lot of work, and it’s hard to put the time in if you don’t truly love what you are doing.
Confidence in golf is a funny thing. You can’t just declare it, you have to earn it. It’s pretty much impossible to play well without confidence.
The best golfers draw their confidence from the work they put in. They have a long-term view on their game, and they don’t let a few bad rounds get them down. They know if they keep plugging away and trying to work on their mistakes, the good rounds will not be far down the road.
All of the best golfers I have seen are humble about their abilities, and more importantly they never take the game for granted. They never get too high after their triumphs, or too low after their failures. They understand that part of being a golfer is going through constant changes, and they take everything in stride.
Above all the highly effective golfer knows they will never have the game conquered, and accept that challenge.