We preach on this site about how to keep a positive attitude and keeping thoughts positive no matter what. But how do we do that? How do we not let the little distractions, bad breaks, errant shots, etc.get to us? The answer is focus.
The first step is to be aware distractions, bad breaks, errant shots, etc. and how we need to react (staying positive). But that is easier said than done. Focus is what carries you through to better results. Positive thinking is the foundation, focus is the action to achieve desired results.
Tiger Woods is one of the most focused golfers on Tour. You can see it in his eyes when he is out there. He thinks positively, but the action of focus keeps him on the right path through his round especially when he is grinding. All Tour players have this incredible ability to focus, thats why they are on Tour. This is what gets them through 8 hours of practice every day, the round under par, through 72 holes under par, pressure of the event, pressure of the crowds, noise of the crowds and winning the event.
How do we as average joes apply better focus to our golf? I believe the answer is training and disciplining yourself to go out everytime you play golf and treat it like a tournament round. This is a step you should take if you want to get to the next level. That means if you go out all the time with your buddies, play music, drink beer, etc. You need to start making your rounds more formal. Make it a match with a friend of equal caliber, put enough on the line for it to matter, putt everything out, play the game by the rules and forgo music, beers, and banter. Believe me, it will still be fun, just a different type of fun. If you play for enough money, it will strengthen your focus and help your overcome nerves with enough repitition. This is how you get better. This is how you step up focus.
For example, if someone is trying to chat your ear off during a round, you will tell them to stop talking because you need to focus on the match, and dont even worry about if that person now thinks your a jerk, just be polite. And who cares? You are now playing to win, so do what is right for you, focus on getting the win. Also, if you hit a poor shot, take a deep breath, think clearly (with positive thoughts) and focus harder on the next shot, stay within the moment with focus on just the next shot. No reflecting back, no looking ahead, just focus on the now. This type of golf will mold you into a more focused player. But you need to turn this behavior into a habit. You willl start to understand yourself better and figure out how to play better under pressure and recover from poor shots around the course.
Positive thinking will get you primed for the next level, focus will get you there. Make a committment to focus on the little things within your game and you will start to see big results.