Golf Mental Game, Take Your Brain Out, Put A Routine In
I believe it was Jim Flick who famously said, “Golf is 90% mental, and the other 10% is mental.” You may have superior physical skills, but your golf mental game needs to be in excellent shape as well if you expect to perform to the best of your ability. A sad example these days is the struggle that Tiger Woods seems to be having. He knows that he is capable of executing incredible shots from anywhere on the course, unfortunately these days he is putting himself into places where even superior talent will not get the job done.
My first game of the season, I went to the range, hit 60+ balls and then played 18 holes. At the range I practiced my irons and my setup routine, pausing to walk away – look – then approach each shot. Finally I spent some time with my driver to insure that I could hit it straight. Basically, I was pleased with the results as I only had a few errant shots.
On the first tee, I had a nice drive and hit the green with my approach shot which rolled slightly off the back of the green. My chip landed softly and rolled within two feet of the cup which I holed for par. Whohoo, nice way to start off a round for the season. After two more par’s I looked at the score card on the way to the fourth hole and had an interesting thought. ” Wow, first round of the season and I am even par after three, not bad after laying around for the last five months. I then proceeded to have two double bogies in a row.
What happened? My golf mental game went right into the tank! What was I doing? Peering into the future, imagining some congratulatory glory in the club-house or car on the way home. In a word, I took myself right out of my game by loosing focus on the most important thing. Being present to what I am doing right at the moment that I am doing it.
golf mental game tips
You and I both know this, but sometimes we need a gentle reminder; we only have control of what we are doing right now, not the future or the past. A previous bad shot needs to be noted, corrected (what did you learn) and forgotten. A future fantastic shot has not happened yet and all we can do about it is to hone our fundamentals to give ourselves the chance for it to occur. The thing we control is “now,” the “what am I doing at this exact moment.”
There is only one place where you can “Be Here Now” on the golf course; that is in your setup. A good setup is going to include some thoughts about the future as in where will my ball be going. It will also include many thoughts in the present;what am I doing right now to insure that I will get the ball to that future target.
First things first! That last shot you took is gone, good or bad it is not coming back, so forget it. Now you need to focus on what you are doing to make this up coming shot the best you can make. This also means that any attitudes that you have about a given hole need to be put out of your mind as well.
In your setup routine you should select a landing zone,(future) then select the club that you know will get there (Experience from past). The rest of your setup should be in the present. Are you lined up to your intermediate target with your feet, knees, hips and shoulders? Check! Is your grip set properly for the best swing you can make? Check! Is your posture correct, do you feel that your back is straight and a slight tension in the big muscles of the thighs, is your weight balanced on the inside balls of your feet? Check! Now all you have to do is to perform.
I have personally changed my setup and do not use a practice swing, but if you do use a practice swing then use it to learn. Is it going back from the ball square? At the nine o’clock position is the toe of the club pointing straight up at the sky? If it is, it should come down the same way which increases the chances of hitting a square and straight shot. Are your shoulders maintaining a relationship with your arms hands and chest; all moving together so the club will fold naturally in the correct swing-path? Good for you! You have now put 90 percent of the mechanics on your side to make the best golf swing that you can make.
The final 10 percent consists in two very important things. Your swing thoughts and your focus. At the moment you are about to make a golf swing you are the only one on the golf course and you are aware of nothing but your body and the golf ball. In your beginning routine you selected a landing zone, out there, on the fairway or the green. Now your job is to get it there. You have already established the mechanics for the swing so now your focus needs to narrow to the execution. For me, the swing thought is to stay relaxed as in “Ree-Laax.” (Yeah I know its not a word but it works for me) I start thinking this as I take my grip on the club.
The final thing is focus! For me to get the ball to the imaginary landing zone out there (in the future) I need to put my now swinging club into the back of a stationary ball. Nothing is going to happen until I make contact with the ball in the “NOW” so where is my focus? You guessed it, I do not start my back-swing until I am seriously focused (looking right at) a dimple on the back side of my golf ball. I know that if I can make good square contact with the ball in that precise spot, that the rest of the swing and the game will take care of itself.
The fascinating thing about the golf mental game is training the mind to be calm and not interfere as the sub-conscious body mechanics do what they know how to do. By staring at that dimple on the ball, focusing my total attention on that spot, I am able to distract myself from other potential thoughts that could harm my swing.
I have two caveats. You need to know, relatively speaking, how far your clubs will travel. For that, you need to spend enough time on the driving range to establish some personal statistics. Secondly you need to develop a good repeatable setup routine that you can use with every shot that you take. It may take a while to develop it and initially it will seem like you are taking much longer to make your shots (which may be true for a while). You will quickly learn to go through your routine in a matter of a few deliberate seconds and it will be worth its weight in gold for your new found scoring ability.
Hit them straight and seldom!
P.S. If you enjoyed this article please let your friends know about it with a “tweet” or a “like”. I have many other suggestions for improving your mental game in my free 10 part course. You can sign up in the box on the side-bar. Thanks
Filed under: Mental Golf Game
Like this post? Subscribe to my RSS feed and get loads more!