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The Mental Side of Golf – Introduction

IMPROVING YOUR MENTAL SIDE OF GOLF

Do you need to improve your mental game? To find out, answer the following questions:
  • Do you feel you should make more pressure short putts when the match is at stake?
  • Do you want to play at least as well or better in tournaments as you do in every-day rounds?
  • Are you a beginner who would like to feel comfortable playing with skilled golfers?
  • Would you like to feel comfortable teeing off on the first hole and hit a good drive?
  • Would you like to repeat or better your best round more and be more consistent?
  • Do you want to play smarter golf to shorten the time it takes to improve your game?

If you answered “Yes” to any of these problems, read this series of four booklets and apply its suggestions.

GENERAL CONCEPTS AND COMMENTS

All other influences being the same, if you improve your mental game you will tend to improve your golf game. However, the opposite is also true. If you improve your golf game, you will tend to improve your mental game, especially your confidence. Therefore, this series of four booklets works in both these directions.

You can take two general paths to improving your mental game. The first is a direct approach: you try to improve your mental game, what you say to yourself and visualize, in hopes of improving your golf game. The second is an indirect approach: you improve your golf game to improve your mental game, especially your confidence and the recall of past successful shots.

I favor both approaches. However, the biggest, fastest improvement in confidence comes from improving your golf game, namely lowering your average score and hitting measurably better shots.

BENEFITS TO GOLF STUDENTS AND INSTRUCTORS

Golfers experience more tension playing golf than other athletes do with their game. In baseball, basketball, and tennis, the player must react to a fast moving ball. There is little time to think before reacting. In golf, the ball just sits there until you hit it. Thus, golf gives you too much time to think, worry and conjure up potentially disastrous consequences. As a result, what you say to yourself, feel and visualize in golf can leave you stranded or lift your game, as jet fuel does with a plane.

There are substantial benefits for improving the mental side of your game and, if you are a golf teacher, the games of your students. If you apply the ideas as I suggest and continue to use them, here are the benefits:

PLAYER BENEFITS

  • You will lower your average score, especially in pressure situations.
  • On average, your key pressure shots will stop closer to the hole than they have in the past and a higher percentage of putts will go in the cup from a given distance.
  • You will win more extra-hole matches.
  • You will have a more effective practice regime, with more accurate aim and alignment, more accurate ball flight and far more attention paid to the largest stroke-saving shots.

IMPROVED PHYSICAL AND EMOTIONAL STATE BENEFITS

  • You will learn to lower your physical tension that you can measure in an office setting with the aid of a biofeedback device. This comes about through immediate and accurate feedback you receive in the form of an audio sound on your degree of tenseness.
  • You will be calmer on the first tee, replacing some or all of the first-tee jitters that you may have experienced in the past.
  • In your pre-shot visualization, you will visualize positive outcomes in more detail and on a higher percentage of your shots, which will produce improved shot results.
  • You will look and act more confident, which can adversely affect competitors.

THERE IS ONLY ONE GOLFER WHO’S THOUGHTS AND FEELINGS I KNOW WELL

Analyzing the mental game poses a problem. You cannot see, hear or visualize much of what another golfer thinks and feels. I know thoroughly and completely only one person’s thoughts in preparing for and playing in a competitive golf situation ─ mine─ and the results they produced. Therefore, I will tell you what I said, felt and visualized before a tournament or key shot and what results it produced. I will also tell you what I told other golfers to do in improving their mental side of golf and the results achieved.

TO IMPROVE, PRACTICE YOUR SWING, BUT ALSO PRACTICE YOUR MENTAL GAME

To improve your golf game, the odds are that you practice your golf swing. However, the odds are that you do not practice your mental game. Therefore, to improve your golf game, you will also need to practice your mental game. There are probably three reasons why you do not practice your mental game. One, you probably do not know what mental behavior to practice. Two, you do not know how to practice the mental game. Three, this involves behavior change and you may lack an effective process for changing a behavior. Not to worry, I do, and I offer you such help.

WHY I TELL YOU HOW I TRAIN, PRACTICE AND APPLY THE MENTAL SIDE OF GOLF

There are four reasons I may be of some benefit to you in applying the ideas I suggest in these booklets:
  • SPECIFIC ADVICE
    The advice I give you is more specific, because I am an expert in behavior change in business and in golf. I do not talk about vague attitudes. There are no touchy-feely descriptions here or fictional characters to communicate with.
  • TOURNAMENT WINS
    Over the years, I won about 25 club tournaments: Club Championships, Senior Championships and Super Senior Championships. The latest one was two weeks ago. I hope your total eventually surpasses mine, especially if you use these ideas.
  • 17 AND 2 IN EXTRA-HOLE MATCHES
    In extra-hole matches at the club, city and state tournament level over the years, my win-loss record is 17 and 2. When I calculated it, the high-win ratio surprised me. Extra-hole matches are interesting because everything rides on one or a few holes. Tiger Woods in extra-hole matches at this point in his professional career has a win-lose ratio of 11-1. Granted, he plays far better golfers than I do, with millions watching on TV and for a huge amount of money and fame.
  • BEATING US OPEN WINNERS
    I had the privilege of playing five U.S. Open champions, three men, all superstars, and two women in the LPGA Hall of Fame. There is pressure playing these stars, especially with a big crowd and the TV cameras rolling. I was fortunate to win three of the matches, though two of them were only for a few holes.

BENEFITS TO GOLF STUDENTS AND INSTRUCTORS

When you see this “brain” artwork throughout this series of four booklets, read the text in that area to learn what you should do in specific terms to improve your mental game and golf performance.

 

IT IS EASIER TO IMPROVE YOUR MENTAL GAME WITH THIS APPROACH
After I wrote these booklets, I scanned other books and articles on the mental game of golf. I found one big benefit for you in how I describe what you should do and not do. I tell you what you should say to yourself, visualize or feel in terms that are so specific you can: (1) state with certainty whether or not you did them, (2) record on a paper form or scorecard how often you used them and (3) record results. At first glance, these might not seem like major differences. They are. Most other writers use vague language to describe what you should do to improve your mental game. The problem is you do not know what to do to change or even know whether you are in the mental state they recommend. Here are a few examples of vague language they commonly use:

  • “Stay committed to the shot.” How do you know what they mean by “committed”? What in the world do they want you to do or say that makes you “committed?”
  • A great golfer is “motivated.” What do they want you to do or say that will demonstrate your motivation or lack of it?”
  • Try to get into the “zone.” How would you know you are in the zone? What do you do to get into the zone more often and stay there longer?

Instead, I use specific language at almost all points. You will know what to think, visualize and feel. You will be able to record on a piece of paper and form whether or not you did it, how often you did it and what percentage of the shots you did it. You will know how to train your mental game.

THESE ARE THE FOUR BOOKLETS IN THE MENTAL SIDE OF GOLF

  • The Introduction
  • Before You Play the Round
  • During the Round
  • Updating Your Mental Software

    You install software that tells your computer exactly what to do. Just press a button and the action is automatic. I want you to “install” new software in your mind that tells you how to think and act differently than you do now in golf situations. This software contains short protocols that golfers imbed in their mind to perform golf tasks almost subconsciously. Golfers need to update this mental software to improve their game. I will give you six mental updates that will produce major improvement in your golf game. Proceed to Booklet Two: Before You Play the Round, or whichever one you want to read.
 
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