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Cindy Miller's 'Own Your Game': Honing the thought process

The next few weeks we are going to discuss what it takes to be a better player.  As mentioned before, Dr. Deborah Graham wrote the book, “Eight Traits of Champion Golfers.”  Her doctoral work was done on the PGATOUR and LPGA Tour with three focus groups.

Group One included Tour Players who had never won a tournament.  Group Two included Tour Players who had won once or twice. Group Three had those who had won multiple times.

She gave each group the same assessment, the Cattell 16 PF.  She wanted to see if multiple Tour winners had different traits than those who had never won, or those who had won once or twice.  The answer was yes.  Those who had won multiple times on Tour had different character traits.  There were eight traits that stood out above and beyond the others.

As someone who has tried to defeat my own personal demons, I of course have become certified in Golf Psych, and would like to share the eight traits, explain what they mean, and teach you how to get better at each one of them.

The first is Cool and Narrow Focus. This important trait is an indicator of your ability to separate yourself from people and circumstances during your round or competition, becoming more internally focused.  In other words, paying attention to your intention.  You not only need to take your focus inward, separating yourself from people, but you also must narrow your focus, keeping your thoughts simple and on performance.  While over the ball your attention and thoughts should be purely and simply on hitting the shot.

The more extroverted you are, the more you need mental techniques for narrowing your focus. The more introverted you are, the more techniques you need to open your focus and take your mind off the round between shots.  As you can see below, Tour Players have the ability to narrow their focus when they need to.

Someone who ranks low would be considered very detached. Someone who ranks closer to 10 would be very involved with people and things around them and have more difficulty focusing on the task at hand.

How do you learn to narrow your focus?

Become Aware of your Thoughts and Focus:  What are you thinking about?  Strive to narrow your focus to only your mental routine as you prepare to hit your shots and putts.  Between shots and putts, open your focus slightly and take your mind off your round. It is impossible to concentrate for over four hours.  If you shoot 90 for 18 holes and you take 45 seconds allowed to hit your shot when it is your turn, you will only be concentrating for 40 minutes during the four hours you are on the course.  You must learn to turn it on and off to narrow and widen your focus.

Mental Routine: Develop a strong mental routine that will assist you in regulating your focus even under the most stressful circumstances. Your brain needs to know what you want it to do.  You can create a routine that is comfortable for you so you are clear and can become more consistent.

Thought Checks:  Develop a keen awareness of where your thoughts go between shots. Choose to replace them with thoughts that will ensure your ability to give yourself mental breaks between shots.

Cindy Miller is a former LPGA Tour Player who currently competes on the Legends Tour of the LPGA. She is a Certified Behavior, Motivation, and Judgment Professional who is sought after as a speaker, coach, and corporate trainer. For questions or thoughts, please reach out to her at

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