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IMGCA Article - The Mental Game of Golf


How to Take Strokes off your Golf Game
by Mastering the Mental Part of It

Monty Bryan

The game of golf can be broken down into two parts: muscle memory and the mental game. Muscle memory is simple. So long as you have a decent swing you can lower your handicap by increasing your muscle memory and you do that by, of course, putting in range time. By contrast, the mental game is something that is as complex as the human mind itself and even professional golfers who have muscle memory down could endure occasional breakdowns of their mental games. How, then, is an amateur like you supposed to master the mental game? Well, a number of mental practices you can put in your bag will shave more strokes off your game then any gimmicky golf ball.

The mental game has multiple layers of depth just like the human mind. First, let's discuss your rational mind and what it has to do with course management. If you don't play very often, or even if you do, you have probably noticed a heightened sense of awareness on the golf course at times; not just when you notice the birds chirping or the wind blowing -- it's more than that. You get in a zone of thinking like a pro. That means you know your exact yardage, which way the wind is blowing, out of bounds is to the right, sand traps are short left, long is bad, you have a flier lie, the air is heavy and last time you hit a seven iron from the same spot you came up short. Making this mental address to the golf ball is every bit as important as hitting the right club. Smart folks say that what determines a decent round is not how good your good shots are, but rather how bad your bad shots are; you must take every measure to increase your chance of success if you don't hit a perfect shot.

Next, you have to tackle you harsh golf superego and subdue its power. Often your golf superego can make you suffer from a "Tyranny of Shoulds." If you are like most of us, you have probably suffered from an inter-dialogue on the golf course in which you berate yourself for not performing the way you should. Not only is this a surefire way to ruin a good time, it will have a tremendous effect on your stoke average. Thinking too far ahead on the golf course can actually put you behind and will most certainly throw you off your game. Perhaps the most bankable skill possessed by great golfers is their ability to quiet the mind. To them, every single shot is a new game of golf. This advice may seem contradictory to tips given the prior paragraph, but it is not. On your rational surface level, you are considering golf course management, but now you are a level deeper in focus, the rational brain has said its piece and you are focused solely on making the shot. Just like all good decisions are born from a peaceful and focused mind so is all good shot making.

However, none of these states of mind are achievable if they are not built on a solid foundation of gratitude. What does that mean? Someone once said, "Golf is a good walk spoiled." It sure can be if you don't cultivate a mentality of gratitude. When you get to the first tee box take a minute to appreciate all that is taking place; you are playing a game with your buddies for a few hours, the air smells fresh, you have 18 holes in front of you to make good shots and a 19th hole if you need to drown a bad outing in a whisky sour. Regardless of anything, you are privileged to spend a few hours of life playing one of the greatest games on earth. If you can truly achieve that feeling inside your body, that my friend, is the fulfillment of your deepest level -- the golfer's soul.

Learn how to mentally improve your golf game - seven secrets to dramatically improve your golf game from Monty Bryan, President of ReFiner Golf. Visit to learn more and to improve your golf swing.

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