Jun 20, 2023

T-Time Podcast // Ep. 49: Overcoming Fear and Having Your Worst Round Ever with Michael Leonard

beginner golfers golf routines golf tips and tricks mental hurdles of golf on the course podcast

Tori, Tara, and Michael Leonard, the Wicked Smart Golf podcast host, had an engaging conversation. They discussed Michael's journey from novice golfer to US Open qualifier, his love for the sport, and their college golf experiences. They shared memorable stories, including Michael's impressive Pebble Beach, CA rounds. They also explored the impact of NIL rules on college athletes and offered advice for aspiring players. Overcoming fear in golf and improving mental games were key topics, emphasizing pre-shot routines, positive self-talk, and staying present on the course.

Michael’s Expectations from the MidAm

Michael's main goal in the upcoming men's MidAm is to win. However, he has learned the importance of managing expectations and resetting them if needed. He used to struggle with anger due to thinking he should be better than he was. Now, he approaches tournaments with excitement and gratitude, accepting whatever outcome comes his way. He sees each event as an opportunity to learn and improve, believing that he will either gain validation or receive valuable education for future development.

Coming Up with the Wicked Smart Golf Podcast

Michael's passion for golf was reignited when he planned a special trip to Pebble Beach, CA with his family for his 29th birthday. In the months leading up to the trip, he dedicated himself to improving his game, practicing and playing golf relentlessly. The experience of playing at Pebble Beach, CA, combined with the support of his girlfriend, sparked a renewed love for the game.

After returning from the trip, Michael decided to pursue competitive golf again and participated in a tournament after a nine-year hiatus. Michael's determination and mental toughness kept him going despite a rocky start in college golf and some challenging rounds. He realized the importance of sharing both the highs and lows of the game, which led him to start the Wicked Smart Golf podcast.

Uncovering the Self-Doubt in Golf: Why Do We Feel Like Inadequate Players?

Uncovering self-doubt in golf is essential for unlocking optimal performance in this individual sport. Golf can be particularly frustrating as players grapple with lofty expectations and struggle to disentangle their self-worth from their scores. Despite dedicating time and effort to mastering the game and employing correct techniques, success is not always guaranteed, posing a challenge for perfectionists who face disappointment when their performance falls short. To conquer self-doubt in golf, it is crucial to shift the focus towards continuous improvement and recognize setbacks as an integral part of the journey toward mastery. This enables the reclamation of confidence and the unleashing of optimal performance on the golf course.

Bouncing Back from A Tough Hole

To bounce back from a tough hole in golf, leaving the past behind and staying present is crucial. Dwelling on past shots or anxiously anticipating future ones is a common mistake. Picture yourself as a rubber band snapping back to reality. When having a bad day, let go of the past and focus on the shot at hand. Being fully present is essential for hitting a good golf shot. After the round, you can analyze and recap, but it's all about staying in the moment during play.

Another key strategy is playing more conservatively at times. Emotions can cloud judgment, especially after a frustrating three-putt or a challenging hole. Stick to your game plan for each shot. Avoid the temptation to play aggressively out of frustration. Reflect on past experiences when impulsiveness led to more mistakes. Having a solid plan and occasionally playing more conservatively can help you regain composure and get back into the game's flow. Don't rush to make up for lost strokes. Instead, focus on consistency and gradually rebuild confidence, avoiding stressed-out, emotionally-driven shots unlikely to yield consistent results.

Michael’s Relationship with the USGA

Michael has a positive relationship with the USGA, participating in their events and finding them valuable for content creation. He enjoys the diverse pairings he gets, playing with both young and older players. He appreciates the solo nature of these tournaments, where he doesn't need a caddy. However, he admits that he doesn't pay much attention to the leaderboard during these events to avoid getting distracted and focusing too much on the future. He learned from a previous experience where checking the leaderboard late in a tournament affected his play. Michael prefers to stick to his game plan and avoid playing overly aggressively, as it can lead to costly mistakes.

Mastering the Mental Game: Overcoming Golfing Challenges for Optimal Performance

Confidence and putting in the necessary physical work are crucial for optimal performance. A key aspect of the mental game is having a strong pre-shot routine. Many people tend to focus on negative thoughts like "don't hit it in the water," which can hinder performance. Instead, it's important to focus on your goal and create a clear objective in your routine. A consistent routine is essential for getting your mind on board and building confidence. You can effectively manage negative self-talk and improve performance by controlling your thoughts and directing them toward your desired target.

Michael's Advice for New Enthusiasts Seeking Improvement

To improve your game, focus on the short game. Many people spend too much time on the range hitting endless buckets of balls with their seven iron. Instead, prioritize chipping and putting, as they offer the quickest improvements. Even top golfers like Jon Rohm can struggle with putting at times. By honing your short game, you'll see your scores drop and become even more motivated. Don't neglect the mental aspect, either. Monitor your self-talk, body language, and overall mindset during a round. By controlling these factors, you'll play better and have more enjoyable golf rounds.

Connect with Our Guests

Michael Leonard:

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Tara Bateman:

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