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The most frustrating thing about golf is...


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I still believe that ultimately the mind rules over the body.

And I believe the mental game is vastly, vastly overstated in importance. Your swing (general "you") is why you (still general) shoot the scores you (same) shoot, not your (…) mental game.

Unless a golfer is an extreme head case, his mental game has very little affect on his scores. It'd be an SV① skill if we had to rank it.

While I am by no means a scholar in the science of athletic performance, I am aware of a body of literature demonstrating how mental factors (I.e., changing the focus of attention, distraction, etc.) can significantly alter proficiency in athletic skills performance.

You're giving too much weigh to those studies. A golfer with a swing that shoots 90 is not going to shave many strokes at all by improving his mental game. One or two, sure. More? Highly, highly unlikely unless, as I said, he's an extreme headcase.

The golf swing is too complex with too little margin of error. We're not talking about simpler tasks (those types of tests are commonly done with simpler tasks that can be "graded" more easily).

I'd imagine that people who teach the golf swing would agree with you that I'm overstating the mental component....sports psychologists might say I'm understating it.

That's a nice way of saying that I'm biased. And maybe I am, but consider the fact that I will do all I can to help people get better at golf (if it meant learning psychology, taking classes, etc. in order to help my players, I would), and consider the possibility that the instructional group is right.

Psychologists can help the head cases, sure. And on the PGA Tour a single stroke or two over four rounds might mean the world to someone winning a major versus losing in a playoff or finishing T3 or something… but those guys could be in a terrible mood thinking about their six ex-wives and the money they owe them, half drunk, and looking at a caterpillar a foot away from their ball instead of their golf ball and they'll still hit a better shot than you (not the general you), on average.

All I know for sure is that there IS a mental component, and that it is not trivial. The mind can prevent the body from doing what is possible, probable, and often easy, as anyone who has choked on a 2 foot putt with the hole or the match on the line knows all too well. 

I think it's pretty trivial, but then again, I'm not a head case like the two-foot yipper. Yeah, a psychologist might help him. Then again, maybe he yips because he has a bad technique. I've seen the yips "cured" both ways.


Speaking generally, lots of golfers seem to like to think that if they can improve their mental game they'll be significantly better golfers. It's just not true in my experience. In fact, it's just another example of golfers "conning" themselves. They seem to think that because "if I can just think better" (which they likely feel is a simple thing to do), they can shoot better scores.

I've said before and I'll say again: you can put Jack Nicklaus's mind into the body of a golfer who can't break 100 and the guy isn't gonna be winning the club championship any time soon unless it's in the 100+ flight. He's not going to shoot that much lower than he shoots now because, at the end of the day, your mind doesn't hit the golf ball. Your crappy swing does moves the clubhead into the general area of the ball…

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You don't understand what I mean by the mental side of sports. And no matter how I try to explain it, you will simply keep replying and keep disputing and refuting. 

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You don't understand what I mean by the mental side of sports. And no matter how I try to explain it, you will simply keep replying and keep disputing and refuting. 

Yeah, uhhhh, okay.

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The long version of my greatest frustration: I am convinced that becoming very good at golf - which I define as a legitimate handicap under 5 - is equal parts mental and physical. You can get a teacher to help you with the physical part, but you must learn the mental part yourself. By "mental part," I am NOT talking about decision making, course management, shot selection, etc. (Aside: those things are VERY important, and can lower your score substantially, but beciming great at course management alone cannot make you break 80 with regularity). What I am talking about is the mental ability to get out of your own way and allow your body to make a good swing - a swing you ALREADY KNOW how to make and have made many times before - when it counts. I have no other explanation for why I and many others I see can play 6 holes like a 3 hcp and the other 12 like a 15. I don't know exactly what the mental skill is....I had it for a month or so this year, posting several rounds in the 70s and having several more close to that. These were rounds where I typically had as many as 12 GIR and 15 nGIR,,and maybe only one awful shot per round. Sometimes the mental edge feels like confidence....other times it's iacas's "stupid monkey," other times it's just a calmness where no mental noise creeps in during those critical seconds just before you begin to swing. Being good enough to break par on a real,golf course, or play professionally,,etc., I think that level requires a high level of athletic ability. But to just break 80 every time, I think is well,within the grasp of the average Joe/Jane....if they take the time to learn what a good strike is, AND to teach themselves how to let this happen often enough.  

What could you have done differently on those 12 holes? Why do you think that it was a mental thing?

Here's a concrete example when I mess up a hole. It usually starts with a drive that for no apparent reason decides to hook into the trees. Then I make my recovery from 300 yards away from the pin. I hit the best possible 3W or 3H I can, and lands anywhere from 50 to 120 yards short. Next, I hit anything from a LW to a PW in hopes of hitting the green. If I hit it, I am left with a 8 to 20 foot putt and maybe more. I never expect to make 8 to 20 foot putts. No matter how confident I am, I usually miss those putts. That's a bogey. On the next hole with the same expectations of my drive, I can birdie of par. It's totally random.

I just don't see what I could do mentally to improve upon a 15HC performance when a drive decides to do something other than what I wanted?

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For me it's the difference a day can make in my game.  One day I go out and feel like I'm  on top of the world and really improving.  The next do I go out and it's like I've never seen a golf ball before.

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For me the most frustrating part of my golf game is 3 putting. It can ruin a good score and can turn alot of pars into bogies. Ive had at least 3 rounds this summer where I hit double digit GIR and still end up in the 80s score wise. Very frustrating!

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Speaking generally, lots of golfers seem to like to think that if they can improve their mental game they'll be significantly better golfers. It's just not true in my experience. In fact, it's just another example of golfers "conning" themselves. They seem to think that because "if I can just think better" (which they likely feel is a simple thing to do), they can shoot better scores.

I've said before and I'll say again: you can put Jack Nicklaus's mind into the body of a golfer who can't break 100 and the guy isn't gonna be winning the club championship any time soon unless it's in the 100+ flight. He's not going to shoot that much lower than he shoots now because, at the end of the day, your mind doesn't hit the golf ball. Your crappy swing does moves the clubhead into the general area of the ball…

Another way of understanding this is the idea that those who say sport is 90% (or some similar number) are talking about sports at an elite level, where there are marginal differences in performance. Learning golf (I've gone from shooting 110s to high 80s in just over a year), still learning, I know that there is no way my swing before lesson one could have me shooting in the 80s. The mental stuff needs a base of physical skill this case a solid enough swing, in order for it to make a difference, but the better your physical skill, the more important the mental stuff becomes.

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Another way of understanding this is the idea that those who say sport is 90% (or some similar number) are talking about sports at an elite level, where there are marginal differences in performance. Learning golf (I've gone from shooting 110s to high 80s in just over a year), still learning, I know that there is no way my swing before lesson one could have me shooting in the 80s. The mental stuff needs a base of physical skill this case a solid enough swing, in order for it to make a difference, but the better your physical skill, the more important the mental stuff becomes.

I would agree that it's relatively more important, but it's still never really more important than the physical stuff. Maybe if you have a five-footer to win a major, but you've still had to hit some 280 shots leading up to that point or something…

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It is rather frustrating to see one's game come into a level of competence and consistency at the end of October with no immediate plans for golf beyond Halloween until late April.  It happens yearly.  I will try snowbirding on an experimental basis in 2017.

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I would agree that it's relatively more important, but it's still never really more important than the physical stuff. Maybe if you have a five-footer to win a major, but you've still had to hit some 280 shots leading up to that point or something…

@iacas I don't want to argue this too much, because I think broadly we agree on this point. Perhaps a better way of articulating it is that mental skills are supplemental to the swing mechanics.

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And I believe the mental game is vastly, vastly overstated in importance. Your swing (general "you") is why you (still general) shoot the scores you (same) shoot, not your (…) mental game.

 

Just curious. When you say mental, are you talking about mood, temper, positivity etc. Are you including course management.  I get mental game and actual course management confused.

On my local course its the course (along with other things) that beats me most of the time.  I have played with guys that made a lot more bad shots than me but put them in better areas to score better than me.

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The most frustrating thing about golf for me lately is not being able to see the things that I am doing horribly wrong while I am playing.  And realizing it or not after the round while I am trying to figure out what had happened.  Sunday night i went out to practice a few holes, sometimes I play as many as I can others I will drop a few balls here and there etc. Well I wanted to play seriously but I kept pulling or slicing really bad off the tee.  An my approaches were very unpredictable.  I started breaking down my swing dropping more balls. (keeping head still, stiffer left arm, smother or harder swing.) then luckily i randomly hold the club as to check alingment and aim parallel to toes pointing toward direction of target.  and low and be hold I am way left.  Way left.  So way left then a squarish club face (obviously hitting a lil closed or open) was causing the pull hooks and slices. Fixed my aim.  Tight draws and a few lil pushes. Golf is hard.

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Just curious. When you say mental, are you talking about mood, temper, positivity etc. Are you including course management.  I get mental game and actual course management confused.

On my local course its the course (along with other things) that beats me most of the time.  I have played with guys that made a lot more bad shots than me but put them in better areas to score better than me.

I think of metal game as confidence before each shot. So, maybe that's mood? There's a heck of a lot more to it than what I am about to state, but at least it's the difference between me as a high bogey golfer and where I am now.

However, as my swing has improved, my confidence before each shot has gone up. This makes me less apprehensive before each shot. Actually, I rarely feel apprehensive about a shot these days. I still duff them and stuff, but I never feel like it's the end of the world. It's just a stroke. Plus, my duffs are not as penalizing as before. I might get 70-80% distance, and some occasional ones that give me less than 50%?

As confidence in your swing grows, you become less apprehensive about each shot.

 

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And I believe the mental game is vastly, vastly overstated in importance. Your swing (general "you") is why you (still general) shoot the scores you (same) shoot, not your (…) mental game.

Unless a golfer is an extreme head case, his mental game has very little affect on his scores. It'd be an SV① skill if we had to rank it.

You're giving too much weigh to those studies. A golfer with a swing that shoots 90 is not going to shave many strokes at all by improving his mental game. One or two, sure. More? Highly, highly unlikely unless, as I said, he's an extreme headcase.

The golf swing is too complex with too little margin of error. We're not talking about simpler tasks (those types of tests are commonly done with simpler tasks that can be "graded" more easily).

That's a nice way of saying that I'm biased. And maybe I am, but consider the fact that I will do all I can to help people get better at golf (if it meant learning psychology, taking classes, etc. in order to help my players, I would), and consider the possibility that the instructional group is right.

Psychologists can help the head cases, sure. And on the PGA Tour a single stroke or two over four rounds might mean the world to someone winning a major versus losing in a playoff or finishing T3 or something… but those guys could be in a terrible mood thinking about their six ex-wives and the money they owe them, half drunk, and looking at a caterpillar a foot away from their ball instead of their golf ball and they'll still hit a better shot than you (not the general you), on average.

I think it's pretty trivial, but then again, I'm not a head case like the two-foot yipper. Yeah, a psychologist might help him. Then again, maybe he yips because he has a bad technique. I've seen the yips "cured" both ways.


Speaking generally, lots of golfers seem to like to think that if they can improve their mental game they'll be significantly better golfers. It's just not true in my experience. In fact, it's just another example of golfers "conning" themselves. They seem to think that because "if I can just think better" (which they likely feel is a simple thing to do), they can shoot better scores.

I've said before and I'll say again: you can put Jack Nicklaus's mind into the body of a golfer who can't break 100 and the guy isn't gonna be winning the club championship any time soon unless it's in the 100+ flight. He's not going to shoot that much lower than he shoots now because, at the end of the day, your mind doesn't hit the golf ball. Your crappy swing does moves the clubhead into the general area of the ball…

Kevin Na may need some more mental toughening after Sunday's chip on #17.  I wonder if he woke up in a cold sweat last night from a chunky nightmare. Or maybe he dreamed he kept whiffing on the tee.  Two weekends in a row now, rough stuff.

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I'm sure we've all gone through it, but I finally got my swing feeling like money, but my putting went down the drain!  I can't explain how frustrating this has been, as I've been working so hard on the swing just to be let down by the flatstick.  I thought instead of venting to the people I normally bother with my golfing woes, I'd bring it to the forum.  

 

So the question:  What frustrates you most about golf? 

 

For me it's a 3-putt for bogey. It's such a waste because you did the hard stuff well (GIR) and didn't take advantage of it.

Kevin Na may need some more mental toughening after Sunday's chip on #17.  I wonder if he woke up in a cold sweat last night from a chunky nightmare. Or maybe he dreamed he kept whiffing on the tee.  Two weekends in a row now, rough stuff.

Maybe. 

As @iacas pointed out though, his skills (physical, mental) were pretty good for the previous 270 something shots. 

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Just curious. When you say mental, are you talking about mood, temper, positivity etc. Are you including course management.  I get mental game and actual course management confused.

On my local course its the course (along with other things) that beats me most of the time.  I have played with guys that made a lot more bad shots than me but put them in better areas to score better than me.

The course management stuff is pretty easy if you follow what's in LSW. That's not a plug… (well I guess it is)… it's just to say that there's no reason to really spend a lot of mental energy on game planning/course management.

In saying the "mental game" I'm talking about all the mental stuff that isn't GamePlanning. :-)

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I do think for some golfers the mental game is huge!  If I lose focus in the middle of my OHHHHHH did you just see that HR by Alex Gordon in the bottom of the ninth to tie is up in game 1 of the WS?

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