Mental Prescription



Last week at the Abu-Dhabi Championship we saw, again, the effect of not being mentally capable of “finishing” a tournament.  I have stated several times that we must not deny the importance of the mind in golf.  This holds true at whatever level the game is being played, as mental pressure is present whether you are trying to win a professional event, a club championship, or finishing a personal best round.  At some point during a good round of golf, one will realize that what is happening is not the norm.  This is when doubt, apprehension, concern or any other analytical thought comes into the mind and changes the way we play golf.  A sense of urgency, control of results takes over the mind and subsequently the swing.

As we watched Tiger  Woods in the past, his mental state of being was superior than his competition.  Sure the fact that those chasing him or those he was chasing, introduced a bit of doubt in themselves that they could not hold off the charge Tiger was going to make by playing “normally”.  Well, since Tiger’s fall from grace several things have happened;  There is a group of players that have not seen Tiger in his best form therefore, do not “fear” the “charge”,  others see that Tiger is not the same and realize that they can play their normal game to secure the win , but most obvious is that Tiger himself seems to not be in the same state of mind where he believes he can win at anytime.  We saw this when Tiger did not make a single birdie on the back nine on sunday preventing him from making that, not so familiar recently “charge”.  I believe this can only be because Tiger himself does not have the confidence he once had, injuries withstanding.  Remember we are talking about a player that has played and won with significant injuries in the past.  Swing change you say?  Tiger has gone through swing changes before and was able to win with what he himself said was his “B Game”.

We are not seeing anything new on the tour.  Nearly every weekend we can watch leaders fall from the top.  Why?  Because the mind gets distracted with negative thought, don’t hit it here, don’t hit it there, and the o so well disguised analytical thought, just hit a good one.  You can recognize these situations by listening to the announcer who will usually refer to these shots as “twitchy situations” which usually leads to a controlled swing.  As I write this I have just watched Spencer Levine play the last nine holes with four bogeys after playing the previous 54 holes with only two and now trails by one stroke in the Waste Management Tournament in Arizona.  Reminds us of one Rory McIlroy in the Masters last year.  The mental game is such a valuable asset to a golf game that it should not be, but is too frequently, overlooked.

I understand the concern one may have about focusing too much energy on developing the mental game when one is not playing at the same level as a tour pro.  My question to you is, have you not hit that shot you want to hit right now, before?  Have you not played that round, a couple of holes, nine holes the way you want to play, before?  What should be exciting or at least interesting, is what allows you to do that for short periods of time but not regularly?  And no it is not because you all of a sudden can’t make a golf swing that will produce that game, it is because you cannot perform, mentally, to create the results you want.

As Harvey Penick used to say and I paraphrase, the mind of a golfer is a fragile thing.  I concur Mr. Penick.

The hardest thing to do is to trust in something, your swing, that has not yet earned trust.  I thank you and  commend all of the regular readers of this blog because you truly are on the right path to better golf as you obviously recognize the importance of a sound mental game.  There are billions of dollars spent each year on golf equipment, training aides, instruction in this game.  What is ironic to me is, as has been written since the dawn of the game, golf imitates life…and in life there are currently over 170,000 psychologists in the US with an expected growth of  7.9% this year,  what is life’s training aid, should be imitated in golf!

Do not underestimate the power of your mind at what ever level you are playing the game!

Good Golfing,


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