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What does it mean to YOU when someone says,... Working on the mental game?

Is it swing thoughts? Course management? Remaining calm? Being focused?

I always found it a very unspecific phrase and I'm not entirely sure what it means, or if it's different for different people?

My gut reaction is that they are probably working on the wrong thing ;-)

Mental game to me is more about being "in the moment" and not worrying or being afraid about the result. If you're nervous about a certain shot or round, try to turn it into a positive and convince yourself to enjoy the pressure and give yourself some positive cues.

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Mental game to me is more about being "in the moment"

Exactly !  -  Like when pressing the Nassau Bet 3 ways on the last hole.

But seriously, I agree with Mike, it's when the gremlin's inside the brain want to come out and play

and one must put them back in the dungeon.

Controlling the moment to execute your play when - nerves, heart rate acceleration, habitual swings flaws, etc.

Then, one will have the best attempt to control the result of your play.

Club Rat

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Exactly !  -  Like when pressing the Nassau Bet 3 ways on the last hole.

But seriously, I agree with Mike, it's when the gremlin's inside the brain want to come out and play

and one must put them back in the dungeon.

Controlling the moment to execute your play when - nerves, heart rate acceleration, habitual swings flaws, etc.

Then, one will have the best attempt to control the result of your play.

Club Rat

According to Zen Golf by Joseph Parent, it's not about "putting the gremlins back in the dungeon", it's more about just letting them roam, knowing they're there and not really caring. I know it might sound like the same thing to alot of people, but for me it's totally different.

I used to always sabatoge my rounds by scorecard watching around the 14th hole when I was trying to first break 100. I shot 100 THREE TIMES and a ton of rounds under 105 early last season where I imploded towards the end (It WAS difficult to avoid, because I use SwingBySwing and its hard to NOT notice your score after you enter what you got on a hole) Everyone says to NOT look at the score yadda yadda and it makes sense. But I'm the kind of person who always knows the score of something in the back of my head.

When I finally did break 100 I made a 10 on the 14th hole and looked to see what I needed to do for a 99. I needed to shoot bogey on the last 4 holes. For most of you that's cake, but for a nearly 30 handicap it's intimidating...especially after shooting a 10! I went bogey-par-par-double for a 98.

Now I realize that 100 is merely a number, but knowing how much pressure I put on myself and that I was able to play MY best golf under that pressure is something I'm very proud of and a feeling I want to take into this season. For me, it's not about hiding from the voice in your head. Its about giving him a nice :censored: YOU as you sink a 7 footer.

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What does it mean to YOU when someone says,... Working on the mental game?

Is it swing thoughts? Course management? Remaining calm? Being focused?

I always found it a very unspecific phrase and I'm not entirely sure what it means, or if it's different for different people?

i would say that someone who says this is working on controlling their emotions.  To me, having a strong mental game means that person can control their emotions during play. That could mean not flipping out when they miss a 3 foot putt causing them to double bogey the next 2 holes, not getting anxious when they realize that they are on pace to beat their personal best score, or not getting flustered when you are 1 stroke back with 2 to play.

I know discussing the mental game has been approached from every angle on this site but the mental game is a funny thing.  A good mental game can't make a 10 handicap play like a scratch player but a bad mental game can make a scratch player play like a 10 handicapper.

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I don't know how much the mental game effects my score - probably more than some think - but it definitely effects how much I enjoy the round.

There are far too few of rounds played where I was just glad to be on the course completely enjoying the moment. I wish I could control that because it blows away even my lowest scoring rounds as far as feeling like golf is the perfect game for me.

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I don't know how much the mental game effects my score - probably more than some think

Or maybe less than you think. @iacas made a good post about this yesterday.

http://thesandtrap.com/t/53453/the-mental-game-in-two-words/54#post_1095429

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Or maybe less than you think. @iacas made a good post about this yesterday.

http://thesandtrap.com/t/53453/the-mental-game-in-two-words/54#post_1095429


Not suggesting swing mechanics isn't by far the biggest reason for high scores. I get it... we (poorer players) are doing the same things wrong round after round (and sadly year after year). That's what's keeping me from shooting in the 80's instead of trying to break 100.

But the mental game still has an effect. I don't know if it's focus/concentration or just staying loose, but what is it that allows us or causes us to shoot 104 one day, 94 the next and 104 after that? Mike, if you can tell me that my mechanics became a bit better for a day, then I'll consider it a strong possibility. I just have a hard time coming up with that conclusion on my own.

Also, I have to believe It's the mental game more than poor mechanics that causes me to blade a chip or miss a tap in. Not to mention that learning the swing is governed by one's mind more than it is limited by physical ability.

Now if we're talking about emotions, I don't believe a positive attitude is going to make you shoot lower as Bob Rotella states in Golf is Not a Game of Perfect . That's an over-simplication.

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Not suggesting swing mechanics isn't by far the biggest reason for high scores. I get it... we (poorer players) are doing the same things wrong round after round (and sadly year after year). That's what's keeping me from shooting in the 80's instead of trying to break 100. But the mental game still has an effect. I don't know if it's focus/concentration or just staying loose, but what is it that allows us or causes us to shoot 104 one day, 94 the next and 104 after that? Mike, if you can tell me that my mechanics became a bit better for a day, then I'll consider it a strong possibility. I just have a hard time coming up with that conclusion on my own. Also, I have to believe It's the mental game more than poor mechanics that causes me to blade a chip or miss a tap in. Not to mention that learning the swing is governed by one's mind more than it is limited by physical ability. Now if we're talking about emotions, I don't believe a positive attitude is going to make you shoot lower as Bob Rotella states in Golf is Not a Game of Perfect . That's an over-simplication.

I have this conversation with my playing partner all the time.. This is usually how it goes.. Him: I shot a high score today because I didn't focus enough, I need to focus more. Me: ummm no, it is because you have poor mechanics Him: well then why did I shoot low yesterday Me: because yesterday you made good compensations and you were able to get the ball to do what you want and today you were not able to do it Him: well isn't the compensation a mental/focus thing Me; not really, it is a mechanical timing thing that can be there at one moment and gone the next, nothing you can do emotionally or mentally to control if you are able to get it done or not The I usually continue and explain why he needs to work on his mechanics because let is separate the good swing and the compensations and say that the total should equal 100 percent, the. Right now he is at 50 / 50, so that means that 50 percent of the time he had no idea what the ball is going to do. While if he worked on his mechanics he can reduce the compensation part accordingly and thus be able to have a predictable flight pattern shot after shot. At least this is how I understand things, does it make sense? Edit: excuse my grammatical errors

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Not suggesting swing mechanics isn't by far the biggest reason for high scores. I get it... we (poorer players) are doing the same things wrong round after round (and sadly year after year). That's what's keeping me from shooting in the 80's instead of trying to break 100.

Correct… those "same things wrong" are mechanical.

But the mental game still has an effect. I don't know if it's focus/concentration or just staying loose, but what is it that allows us or causes us to shoot 104 one day, 94 the next and 104 after that? Mike, if you can tell me that my mechanics became a bit better for a day, then I'll consider it a strong possibility. I just have a hard time coming up with that conclusion on my own.

The timing or compensations are simply a bit better that day. Look at a PGA Tour player. THEY have scoring fluctuations. Some of it's luck, but mostly… some days they have it (their mechanics, to the level they require) and some days they do not.

Also, I have to believe It's the mental game more than poor mechanics that causes me to blade a chip or miss a tap in. Not to mention that learning the swing is governed by one's mind more than it is limited by physical ability.

Blading a chip is ~99% poor mechanics.

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The I usually continue and explain why he needs to work on his mechanics because let is separate the good swing and the compensations and say that the total should equal 100 percent, the. Right now he is at 50 / 50, so that means that 50 percent of the time he had no idea what the ball is going to do. While if he worked on his mechanics he can reduce the compensation part accordingly and thus be able to have a predictable flight pattern shot after shot.

At least this is how I understand things, does it make sense?

Yes, this does make sense. There are days when I have no idea what will come off my driver. When the first few start to fly fairly well, I feel that whatever it is I'm doing, it's closer to "right" - mechanically speaking. As long as I don't try to change anything that day, I usually continue to hit the driver relatively well.

Correct… those "same things wrong" are mechanical.

The timing or compensations are simply a bit better that day. Look at a PGA Tour player. THEY have scoring fluctuations. Some of it's luck, but mostly… some days they have it (their mechanics, to the level they require) and some days they do not.

Blading a chip is ~99% poor mechanics.

I think I understand your point. The only difference from my point of few would be "what causes the poor mechanics" on a single swing that is usually relatively sound.

I hope no one is thinking I'm taking my 3 years of crappy golf experience and trying to challenge those of you who have been playing at a high level for decades. I'm just trying to understand with the end goal of using that knowledge to improve or enjoy the game more.

Maybe better players get to the point where the mind gets to more of an auto-pilot mode, where I'm trying to put a dozen swing thoughts in place??? Having never been good, it's hard to even imagine what it's like.

And as far as luck, you will never hear me use that as an excuse for my level of play, but in the rounds where I scored lower, the few lucky bounces or really long putts are what I seem to remember.

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I think I understand your point. The only difference from my point of few would be "what causes the poor mechanics" on a single swing that is usually relatively sound.

It's not usually relatively sound. You just time things and get away with them usually…

Pros flub chips. Their technique doesn't suddenly become terrible. Golf requires some awfully high precision in order to not hit embarrassingly bad shots.

I hope no one is thinking I'm taking my 3 years of crappy golf experience and trying to challenge those of you who have been playing at a high level for decades. I'm just trying to understand with the end goal of using that knowledge to improve or enjoy the game more.

Nobody's taking it that way. I'm not anyway.

Maybe better players get to the point where the mind gets to more of an auto-pilot mode, where I'm trying to put a dozen swing thoughts in place??? Having never been good, it's hard to even imagine what it's like.

See this thread: .

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See this thread:  ​.

Wow, great article. Been on this site almost two years and have read majority of Swing Thought threads but had never read this one before today. If I'm understanding that post, is being a stupid monkey not only about learning but also how we approach playing?

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Wow, great article. Been on this site almost two years and have read majority of Swing Thought threads but had never read this one before today. If I'm understanding that post, is being a stupid monkey not only about learning but also how we approach playing?


Yep. You said something about twelve swing thoughts…

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But the mental game still has an effect. I don't know if it's focus/concentration or just staying loose, but what is it that allows us or causes us to shoot 104 one day, 94 the next and 104 after that? Mike, if you can tell me that my mechanics became a bit better for a day, then I'll consider it a strong possibility. I just have a hard time coming up with that conclusion on my own.

I agree it can have an effect, I was just pointing out that it's less than you or other golfers typically perceive it to be.

The higher the handicap the more "chaotic" the swing tends to be, more last minute compensations, more variables to account for, more timing involved. That's more of the reason for the scoring fluctuation, it's not really the metal game.

The guys playing on tour aren't really superior to you mentally, they just have a lot more experience playing in competition but they still get nervous, get distracted and make "mental" mistakes.

Also, I have to believe It's the mental game more than poor mechanics that causes me to blade a chip or miss a tap in. Not to mention that learning the swing is governed by one's mind more than it is limited by physical ability.

I'd bet a lot of money it's the mechanics. I've never seen a good pitcher or chipper have what I would consider "bad" technique. With better technique your "mental" game generally improves.

Also want to point out that when we're saying mechanical we don't mean that golfers should get technical. We obviously like to keep things simple but we're pointing out that there is typically a physical, measurable reason for a bad shot.

I hope no one is thinking I'm taking my 3 years of crappy golf experience and trying to challenge those of you who have been playing at a high level for decades. I'm just trying to understand with the end goal of using that knowledge to improve or enjoy the game more.

Not at all, just having a good discussion.

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With better technique your "mental" game generally improves.

This is a great statement. When I learned the proper way to pitch the ball, my mindset went from "don't screw this up" to "stick it close." Having better technique gave me confidence in my abilities and improved my "mental" game.

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Yep. You said something about twelve swing thoughts…

The higher the handicap the more "chaotic" the swing tends to be, more last minute compensations, more variables to account for, more timing involved. That's more of the reason for the scoring fluctuation, it's not really the mental game.

This is starting to make a bit more sense now. I don't know how much I can change what goes on in my head, but I can at least give it more effort (or should I say less effort). I have to replace bad swing habits with better ones during practice sessions (one key at at time) instead of over-thinking things while I'm playing a round.

I have often wondered if I'm making some of this more complicated than it should be and I probably have been. Maybe better to have a less-than-perfect swing that is simpler than to try and have a perfect one that is difficult to execute and even more difficult to diagnose when things go wrong?

This is a great statement. When I learned the proper way to pitch the ball, my mindset went from "don't screw this up" to "stick it close." Having better technique gave me confidence in my abilities and improved my "mental" game.


Agreed. It's what I've always thought about the whole "positive attitude" opinion. Positive attitude doesn't make you a better player, being a better player gives you a positive attitude.

Thanks to everyone.

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When I think of Mental Game it has nothing to do with technique, ability, ball flight rules, course management,,,,,etc.

It's about fading in and out of focus during the round and allowing my mind to escape from the pressure of the situation I may find myself in. It's like overfilling a balloon. If you keep adding more and more air eventually your going to pop it, just as staying overly focused about every little thing in your game, swing, course management, ball flight rules, while your playing for +4 hours eventually overfills your head and it pops(figuratively of course)!

Sometimes it's just the pressure of the moment, a big tournament your trying to win for the first time, or to beat your buddy for the first time. Filling your head with thoughts of the "outcome" of a competition is just as bad as over filling it with technical data.

I don't believe there is one simple answer as to how to have a better Mental Game because every single golfer is different and will respond in different ways to a given situation. For myself I have my best focus on the course when I allow my mind to wander away from golf after I've executed a shot. I will look at the trees, birds, plant life, horizon, anything that I find beautiful and interesting to take my mind away from the game even if it's only momentarily.

My way of escaping the "pressure cooker" for a few minutes between shots fits me well but is not going to work for others. Some guy's are big blabbers and have to release their nervous energy by continuously yapping between shots, aka Lee Trevino. That's not my style, and would lead me into having problems coming back into focus as I approach my ball and prepare for the next shot, but for others that fit that mold it may be the answer to a better mental game and lower scores under pressure.

When do I have my worst Mental Game or "focus" on the course? Playing casual rounds with higher handicaps that are not pushing me! It's not that I'm not trying, it's just my mind wanders(waiting for them to catch up) and has no real reason to come back, lol!

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