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IMGCA Article - The Mental Game of Golf


Understanding The Mental Game Of Golf

Martin F Vincent

Anyone that has attempted to play golf would have heard the saying that golf is 10% physical and 90% mental, well when I started playing just trying to hit the blooming ball was difficult enough let alone trying to put myself in a mental state of calm. My long standing golf buddies Mel, Steve and my brother-in-law Patrick could bear witness. I was a club throwing champion colourfully added with liberal amounts of bad language. I'm sure I am not the only person to have gone through this, so why is the mental side taught only after you have attained a decent standard? I believe in introducing it on the first lesson with a beginner and incorporating it in their routine so it becomes ingrained at an early stage. There are many techniques used to prepare yourself and to help you find your rhythm and tempo.

One of the best books to read is 'The Inner Game' by W. Tim Gallwey, he explains in great detail about how our conscious mind-Self 1, fights with our natural ability to hit the ball- Self 2. By confusing Self 1 and keeping it busy we can then allow ourselves to play without interference. That's the keyword here 'interference' we are all so critical of our own abilities or lack of them, when we play well we don't anaylise our swing like we do when playing badly we just play, so we need to stop trying and start doing.

One of his best drills is the Back-Hit drill, I have taken this and added a few things to help tempo and retain balance, I call it the 'one hundred and one' bounce drill, on your take away say 'one hundred and', where 'one' is the start of the backswing and 'hundred and' is the top of the backswing, then say 'one' when you hit the ball and then hold your finish until the ball bounces and say 'bounce'. Saying this out loud at an even, calm voice or even in your mind will turn off the interference from Self 1 and allow you to swing tension free.

When I play golf now I go to the course with no expectations, if I play well then great I know I can play good golf, obviously not in the Tiger Woods' league or some might say Victoria Woods' league, but they are just bitter and twisted, if I start playing badly then I will use the 'one hundred and one' bounce drill to re-focus and to get the rhythm and tempo back into my game.

The Mental Game has a lot to do with keeping state management, not allowing yourself to get too worked up, after all amateur golfers are just that - amateurs, playing golf for fun and the love of the game. So next time you get off to a flying start or even a bad start, just enjoy the experience, play each shot one at time and try not to get too angry or frustrated when it all goes wrong - after all no one ever owns the game of Golf, we just borrow parts of it sometimes.

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