Managing Stress on the Golf Course

By Katherine RobertsJanuary 10, 2011, 6:05 pm

What is your “scariest” golf shot and how can you manage your stress on the course?

We can all relate to a situation that causes fear - speaking in front of a large group, losing something we have or perhaps putting ourselves on the line for something we believe in. Being in front of a television camera may send some of you running but for me it is very natural. However, on the golf course I do experience some fear and anxiety. Being the last golfer in the group to tee off (from the Ladies tees), standing over a critical 4-foot putt and a short lob shot over a deep bunker seem to be my top three.

What are your top three scariest shots?

When we experience anxiety, on or off the course, our body goes into a fight or flight response. Physiologically our heart rate quickens, our breathing becomes more rapid and our muscles experience tension. Not good for the golf swing!

How do you calm your mind and release tension in your body? What is the fastest, most effective way to bring your body and mind into a more relaxed state?


Awareness creates change.

Once I teach you to have awareness of your breathing you can then take that information and apply it directly to your golf swing (pre-shot routine), and into your entire round of golf.


Basic breathing excerciseLet’s begin by using the breathing awareness exercise:

On your back, bend your knees and place your feet hip-width apart. Place your fingers lightly on your ribcage. Close your eyes and focus on your breathing. Inhale as you feel your ribcage rise under your fingers and exhale as you feel your ribcage fall. Repeat 10 times.

Intercostal stretch for deeper breathing capacityIntercostal stretch for deeper breathing capacity

Intercostal stretch:

This stretch is very important to increase your breathing capacity (and range of motion in your torso). Place your left hand, left knee and right foot in alignment. Inhale deeply as you press your foot into the floor. Exhale as you press your hips forward, feeling the stretch in your hips. Bring your right arm over your head and stretch more deeply into the pose with each exhalation. Hold for ten breaths and switch sides.

Spinal Rotation

Spinal twist:

Begin on your side with your knees placed at a 90 degree angle to your body. Support your head and neck with a towel. Rotate your upper body to feel your torso stretching. Hold in the full stretch for ten deep breaths and switch sides.





As always I am here to coach you so please send me your questions to or



Getty Images

Watch: McIlroy gives Fleetwood a birthday cake

By Golf Channel DigitalJanuary 19, 2018, 2:58 pm

Tommy Fleetwood turned 27 on Friday. He celebrated with some good golf – a 4-under 68 in Abu Dhabi, leaving him only two shots back in his title defense – and a birthday cake, courtesy of Rory Mcllroy.

While giving a post-round interview, Fleetwood was surprised to see McIlroy approaching with a cake in hand.

“I actually baked this before we teed off,” McIlroy joked.

Fleetwood blew out the three candles – “three wishes!” – and offered McIlroy a slice.  

Getty Images

DJ shoots 64 to surge up leaderboard in Abu Dhabi

By Ryan LavnerJanuary 19, 2018, 1:48 pm

Dustin Johnson stood out among a star-studded three-ball that combined to shoot 18 under par with just one bogey Friday at the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship.

Shaking off a sloppy first round at Abu Dhabi Golf Club, Johnson matched the low round of the day with a 64 that put him within four shots of Thomas Pieters’ lead.

“I did everything really well,” Johnson said. “It was a pretty easy 64.”

Johnson made four bogeys during an even-par 72 on Thursday and needed a solid round Friday to make the cut. Before long, he was closer to the lead than the cut line, making birdie on three of the last four holes and setting the pace in a group that also included good rounds from Rory McIlroy (66) and Tommy Fleetwood (68).

“Everyone was hitting good shots,” McIlroy said. “That’s all we were seeing, and it’s nice when you play in a group like that. You feed off one another.” 

Full-field scores from the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship

Coming off a blowout victory at Kapalua, Johnson is searching for his first regular European Tour title. He tied for second at this event a year ago.

Johnson’s second-round 64 equaled the low round of the day (Jorge Campillo and Branden Grace). 

“It was just really solid all day long,” Johnson said. “Hit a lot of great shots, had a lot of looks at birdies, which is what I need to do over the next two days if I want to have a chance to win on Sunday.” 

Getty Images

Closing eagle moves Rory within 3 in Abu Dhabi

By Ryan LavnerJanuary 19, 2018, 12:57 pm

What rust? Rory McIlroy appears to be in midseason form.

Playing competitively for the first time since Oct. 8, McIlroy completed 36 holes without a bogey Friday, closing with an eagle to shoot 6-under 66 to sit just three shots back at the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship.

“I’m right in the mix after two days and I’m really happy in that position,” he told reporters afterward.

McIlroy took a 3 ½-month break to heal his body, clear his mind and work on his game after his first winless year since 2008, his first full season as a pro.

He's back on track at a familiar playground, Abu Dhabi Golf Club, where he’s racked up eight top-11s (including six top-3s) in his past nine starts there.

Full-field scores from the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship

McIlroy opened with a 69 Thursday, then gave himself even more chances on Day 2, cruising along at 4 under for the day when he reached the par-5 closing hole. After launching a 249-yard long iron to 25 feet, he poured in the eagle putt to pull within three shots of Thomas Pieters (65). 

Despite the layoff, McIlroy edged world No. 1 Dustin Johnson, coming off a blowout victory at Kapalua, by a shot over the first two rounds. 

“DJ is definitely the No. 1 player in the world right now, and one of, if not the best, driver of the golf ball," McIlroy said. "To be up there with him over these first two days, it proves to me that I’m doing the right things and gives me a lot of confidence going forward.”

Getty Images

Duke to fill in for injured Pavin at CareerBuilder

By Ryan LavnerJanuary 19, 2018, 12:25 pm

Ken Duke will fill in for Corey Pavin for the next two rounds of the CareerBuilder Challenge – with nothing at stake but his amateur partner’s position on the leaderboard.

Pavin was 4 over par when he withdrew after 17 holes Thursday because of a neck injury. Tournament officials contacted Duke, the first alternate, and asked if he would take Pavin’s spot and partner with Luis Lopez for the next two rounds, even though he would not receive any official money.

Duke accepted and explained his decision on Twitter:

Playing on past champion’s status, the 48-year-old Duke has made only four starts this season, with a best finish of a tie for 61st at the RSM Classic.

Pavin received a sponsor exemption into the event, his first PGA Tour start since the 2015 Colonial.