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If you play golf at any level, you’ve come under some form of pressure.

Whether that’s needing to hit a solid drive in front of your colleagues, trying to hit the green when you’re on course to win the Sunday medal, or standing on the 18th tee with the lead in a professional event, we’ve all been there in some way.

While we all have the ability to hit certain shots, it can be difficult to know what to do in those moments where it feels like your knees are about to give way beneath you.

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One man who has certainly dealt with his fair share of pressure situations is Padraig Harrington.

The three-time major champion won the 2007 Open in a playoff and thankfully he’s here to pass on some of his advice to us mere mortals.

In one of his excellent Paddy’s Golf Tips YouTube videos, Harrington explains that the simpler you can keep it in high pressure situations, the better.

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“We’re going to have a routine that leads to one thought and that’s it, every time. Forever. If it doesn’t work one time then you can’t change it, you’ve got to stick with it,” Harrington explains.

“We’ve seen players over the years who will have one specific swing thought. Some will like to take the club back nice and low and slow for the first 12 inches of the backswing. If that works for you then great.

“For Colin Montgomerie, he just wanted to feel like he completed his backswing under pressure. The key here is, he went back to that every time he was under pressure. He didn’t try something new, he didn’t try to make a shorter backswing or a longer backswing or a faster backswing, he just tried to complete the backswing.

“The biggest key to pressure is that whatever you’re going to do, you know you’re going to do it before you step up.

Padraig Harrington pressure

“We were taught this as kids. I remember Howard Bennett, my old national coach telling us, I pick my shot and I decide on my shot. The minute you step forward, you never change your mind. That was the biggest key.

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“As you walk in, you don’t decide to hit it harder, you don’t decide to hit it further right. You don’t worry about the water to the left or the wind off the right. You’ve made all those decisions.”

It’s certainly wise advice. We’ve all been in situations where our mind is racing before we pull the trigger. This is never going to give us a good chance at hitting the shot we want. Make all your choices about the shot before you step in to the ball.

“Get over the golf ball and go back to that one familiar thought. For me, I work on Bob Rotella’s stuff, so it’s always the target. By keeping on going back to the target, that brings comfort and familiarity to me, which is what it’s about for handling pressure.

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“The person who isn’t handling the pressure is getting over the golf ball and thinking, ‘Oh, don’t hit it left, slow down you were a bit quick on the last one, keep your head down, make sure you make a full turn.’ All these things are scrambling your brain. Pick one and stick to it. That’s what handling pressure is. Even good new thoughts are no use. Anything new is bad.

“When it comes to handling pressure, stick to what you know and stick to what’s familiar.”

Watch Harrington’s full explanation below

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Lewis Fraser As bunkered’s Performance Editor, Lewis oversees the content that’s designed to make you a better player. From the latest gear to tuition, nutrition, strategy and more, he’s the man. A graduate of the University of Stirling, Lewis joined bunkered in 2021. Formerly a caddie at Castle Stuart Golf Links, he is a member of Bathgate Golf Club where he plays off four.

Performance Editor

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