Phil Mickelson, fresh out of a third round 67 at the 2015 Masters, was in the mix for his fourth green jacket. He was only third and five behind Jordan Spieth. Mickelson spoke to the media that Saturday and was asked about his game plan for the final round and, oddly enough, his wardrobe for Sunday at Augusta National.

“Well, I like to wear dark colors on Sunday,” he said. “I’ve won three times here with black shirts so I’ll be wearing a black shirt tomorrow. It also helps me to become more aggressive. Studies have shown, like NFL teams, when they wear black they have more penalties. That’s what I have to do tomorrow, is to play more aggressively.

Color psychology is not new to marketing, branding, or sports. It has been the subject of countless studies, but unleashing its true potential is largely an individual quest.

We’ll come back to Mickelson in a second. But for now, move quickly from 2015 to summer 2020. That’s when the idea for this article first appeared. When I play golf badly (which happens a lot) the superstitious part of me likes to make a difference. Usually that means tweaking my Sharpie mark on my ball. It’s still dark, but sometimes out of desperation (in a quest for optimism) I change its shape very slightly. A thicker line along the side. Maybe an arrow. Sometimes I add a point. (We’ll do anything – logical or not – for birdies.)

[Golfers] must be self-aware to recognize which emotional state helps them perform better and which color is most likely to help them achieve that emotional state.

Amy morin

The type of mark I scribble on my ball certainly doesn’t help me hit the ball straighter or farther, but could I get hot with a specific mark and gain confidence and trick my mind into thinking that this? brand helps me play better? It is always hope. Forget the physical; I am looking for a mental advantage.

This practice led to another thought: what about the Color of my brand? What if I played better by scoring a red line? or blue? Or maybe green, yellow or orange? That’s when I thought about Mickelson and his comment about playing aggressively while wearing black, and decided to dig deeper. I called in experts (no, not Phil) to find out whether – consciously or unconsciously – the color of the mark on our golf balls affects our game. Would finding the right one for me do better? to play ?

“The color of a mark on a golf ball can certainly affect a player’s emotional state,” Amy Morin told me. She is editor-in-chief of Verywell Mind, psychotherapist and internationally bestselling author of books on mental toughness. A good person to answer questions. She continued, “In turn, their mood can impact their thinking and ultimately their performance.”

Morin explains that some colors are believed to have a similar impact on people, while others are based on personal subjective experiences.

“Some golfers can do better when they have a little extra adrenaline rush, so seeing a bright red or orange dot can give them more energy and put them in perfect shape to do their best,” she says. . “Another golfer can do better if they feel calm. A green mark that reminds them of nature or a blue mark that reminds them of a peaceful aquatic scene could help them perform at their peak.

“So the color of the dot or dash on a golf ball could be an additional opportunity for players to gain a competitive advantage. But they would need to be self-aware to recognize which emotional state helps them perform better and which color is most likely to help them achieve that emotional state.

A color psychology chart shows what emotions are typically triggered by certain colors.


So, different colors mean different things to different people. Dr Joseph Parent is a mental coach and author of “Zen Golf”, and he has worked with hundreds of pros including Vijay Singh and Cristie Kerr on their rise to world number 1. Parent is an expert in psychology in general, in particular perceptual and performance psychology. The parents’ master’s thesis at the University of Colorado was on color and personality. A residential psychology program used colorful and oddly shaped rooms and windows to help people study and identify their personalities. He says color psychology is also true on the golf course.

“Yes, it does make a difference, because color triggers emotions,” he says. “It’s really on an emotional level that you want to work with this. It works at the emotional level, not at the level of the thinking brain. You won’t say, “Oh, red, I need red numbers”. This is not how it works.

The caveat, however, like any golf tip, is that it might not work for everyone. And finding the right color that triggers an ideal mental state isn’t about to alleviate all of your problems on the golf course. But just like a swing idea or a compound pilot, it can help. It’s just another tool. The key, Parent says, is that you can’t be skeptical and you have to be open to the possibilities. He says everyone works in three modes – some more than others – that make it easier to see, hear and feel. Jack Nicklaus, Parent explains, was very proficient in visualizing blueprints (i.e., seeing). People who thrive in a visual mode are more likely to have an influence of color on their play.

Simple advice from an expert on how to play games without anxiety (which could lower your scores)


Josh berhow

“For these people it can have a definite impact,” says Parent, who uses a purple mark on his ball because he likes the quality of the wealth it adds. In addition, not many people use it, so it is easier to identify. “You may think there will be at least one hit during the turn, where they aren’t as tight and they’ll swing better and hit it that far offline. It might not make a difference at all. But for visuals it can save two or three hits, and for others maybe a half hit. The more visual you are, the more impact it will have.

OK, so here’s the tricky part. If colors mean and trigger different emotions for everyone, how do you know which colors trigger the mental state and emotions you’re looking for, potentially leading to better and more enjoyable rounds of golf? To find out, Parent says he could ask a golfer for a flush and then discuss it with him. What are you thinking about? What emotions do you feel? He encourages them to associate freely.

“So it really depends on what the player needs,” says Parent. “If they’re tense, if they get emotional and want to calm down, they might need a glove or colored clothing or a line on their ball that calms down. If they need to be inflated – they look too much like robots and need emotion and fire in there – maybe an orange or a red. “

But not everyone can meet an expert. And while you can use simple trial and error – dissecting different rounds and scores while trying out different colors – it’s also not an exact science. Parent suggests buying colored clear plastic and holding sheets of different primary colors in front of your eyes.

“Look around; walk around and watch it all,” he says. This is where you need to join. “Be aware of your emotions and how you feel – how relaxed or tense, peaceful or energetic you are. Colors have different energies to go with it, but more importantly you are looking for what makes you feel less anxious and more at peace with yourself, just put in a little time and notice if there is a difference.

Will you be able to find the right color that maximizes your performance? It’s up to you to find out.

As for Parent, this subject reminds him of the story of a former pro who was paired with a disabled high during a two-day pro-am. The amateur, anxious to be at his best, is adorned in red for the first day. Red shirt, red shoes, red glove, red hat – you name it. He shot 98. The next day, the red set was replaced by blue from head to toe. He shot 99.

At the end of the tournament, the amateur, looking for a way to improve his game, asked the pro if he had any advice for him after watching him play for two days.

“Yeah,” the pro said. “I think you’re a better shot in red.”

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Josh berhow

Publisher of Golf.com

Josh Berhow is the editor-in-chief of GOLF.com. The Minnesota native holds a journalism degree from Minnesota State University in Mankato. You can reach him at [email protected]