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Runnin

Is golf more mental or physical?

Golf more mental or physical?  

59 members have voted

  1. 1. In your opinion, is golf more of a physical or mental game?

    • More physical.
      40
    • More mental.
      19


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Just now, iacas said:

That's what everyone does.

At least I can point to results.

No argument there. But it's easier to show results when you are dealing with something that affects 90-99.9% of the outcome (depending on who you think is right in this entertaining thread), vs something that affects the remaining, much smaller part. In the end, every bit counts. Does it not?

You conceded earlier that someone might save themselves a stroke out of say 80 or 90 by controlling their bad temper. That's easy pickings though: I roughly saved myself 1 stroke putting every year for the last 5-6 years in a row by working on it, something much harder than not make a spectacle of oneself with an ill temper explosion, which can spread sometimes over several holes and cost well over a stroke.

I think we are in agreement, anyway. :beer:

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15 minutes ago, bones75 said:

Some people don't use coaches, doesn't mean they are worthless.

They all work on their golf swings. Their physical skills.

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1 minute ago, iacas said:

They all work on their golf swings. Their physical skills.

Part of me just thinks I want this thread to hit 1k posts! I'm sure every pro also works on their mental game too, even if they haven't hired a mental coach. 

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9 minutes ago, bones75 said:

Part of me just thinks I want this thread to hit 1k posts! I'm sure every pro also works on their mental game too, even if they haven't hired a mental coach. 

Not really. And those who do, even those with a mental coach, don’t do it anywhere near as much.

I’m out.

Please don’t quote me, respond to my points, or mention me in this topic anymore.

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1 hour ago, sjduffers said:

True all that, but the flaw was in painful display that day, and not so much on a regular day. Why? One factor was not much sleep because it was an earlier tee time that I am used to, coupled with a much longer travel time. I was probably much less dynamic and focused, and made little to no effort to move forward thru the ball, leading to all kinds of mishits, much like I was doing before I took lessons and didn't know any better how things should be done. Another factor which I already mentioned was poor decisions: you don't end up with 5-6 penalty strokes at my level without them! :whistle:

Mental weakness was a large contributing factor that day, in my mind (pun intended!). :beer:

No argument that I am not Jason Day (or even Wesley Bryan). Duh!  But, players who work on visualization, whether consciously or not, tend to fare better than equal-skilled players who don't. Any sport psychologist will tell you that, including Bob Rotella when it comes to golf.

 

My point (in my post you quoted) is that people have some control over their mental game and can improve it to some extent, whether by getting used to pressure by putting themselves in pressure situations, by visualization, by discipline (e.g. pre-shot routine), by controlling one's temper, etc. Sure, I don't argue that the physical game is by far the most important (I even bolded that part in my post), but there is room to improve the mental game too.

I guess I must be the exception I don't visualize any shot, I know my shot typically goes right to left, I aim right and draw it back and most times I'm pretty good but when my mechanics are not right my shot goes everywhere. And I typically play better than most players at my handicap.

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9 minutes ago, jsgolfer said:

I guess I must be the exception I don't visualize any shot, I know my shot typically goes right to left, I aim right and draw it back and most times I'm pretty good but when my mechanics are not right my shot goes everywhere. And I typically play better than most players at my handicap.

Perhaps you don't need it to repeat your stock shot shape. Then, tons of kudos for being that consistent!

But, don't you visualize any out of the ordinary shot, whether trying to go around a tree (perhaps with a low fade/slice for you), punch from under a tree, flop over a bunker, putt with the hole behind your back on a big bender? I don't mean go in full blown meditation with your eyes closed, ala Jason Day, but at least get a mental picture of the trajectory you are trying to achieve and imagine your body working to accomplish that? That's above and beyond any setup modification needed to successfully hit that shot...

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22 hours ago, jsgolfer said:

How do you know he strongest mental player in the world is on the tour, I made no such qualifier. I'm saying if you are the strongest mental player in the world, doesn't have to be a pro, you aren't getting on the tour if you can't hit the golf ball well. Mental ability doesn't help you hit the ball better. You either have the physical ability or you do not. There is no mind over matter or Jedi Mind trick to hit the golf ball better. 

Again, you're confusing playing under pressure (or nervousness) with mental failure.  

I play with several players like this as well, but they are all vanity handicaps (or baggers) and take so many sweepers on the green during a normal round that when it's in the line they can't make a 3?foot putt to save their life. Or the baggers don't play worth a crap until something is on the line and then they are always way better.  We have several of each at our course.  But still not mental, imo.

I guess we'll just have to agree to disagree on the mental game being a substantial part, even during a tournament.  I don't care how good my mental game is, if I'm in a gross event, if I don't hit the ball extremely well, I have no chance. 

I never said he was on the Tour. Read the post again.

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1 hour ago, sjduffers said:

Perhaps you don't need it to repeat your stock shot shape. Then, tons of kudos for being that consistent!

But, don't you visualize any out of the ordinary shot, whether trying to go around a tree (perhaps with a low fade/slice for you), punch from under a tree, flop over a bunker, putt with the hole behind your back on a big bender? I don't mean go in full blown meditation with your eyes closed, ala Jason Day, but at least get a mental picture of the trajectory you are trying to achieve and imagine your body working to accomplish that? That's above and beyond any setup modification needed to successfully hit that shot...

No, I've never hit a shot imagining how my body would work to accomplish that shot.  I just do it. Simple as that. 

but in regards to your question, if I want to hit a flop shot I hit a flop shot, open the club take an open stance, hinge my wrists, keep lower body stil and hit a lob shot.  If I want to hit a low cut around a tree I open the face, weifht forward, swing outside to in and hit a cut, same with a hook, close club face, swing inside to out.  I don't really visualize it in any sense other then I've hit the shot so many times, I just do it.

 

 

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28 minutes ago, Buckeyebowman said:

I never said he was on the Tour. Read the post again.

23 hours ago, Buckeyebowman said:

I can't buy this. The" strongest mental player in the world" wouldn't have arrived there if he didn't have a sound swing! This is a false premise.

And yes, we've all seen guys wilt under pressure, especially in the later rounds. So, which is it? Mental or physical failure? I'd suggest that failure in the early rounds of a big situation is nearly entirely mental. In the later rounds, it could be either one. Especially if a player has been in a number of tournaments in a row. Mental and physical fatigue can set in at the worst time.

You mean the part where you said especially a player who has played a number of tournaments in a row?  Not sure I know of any amateur players who play several tournaments in a row.  They probably exist, but I wouldn't have thought that with what you wrote. But if I misunderstood what you were saying, my apologies.  But at the end of the day, physical ability outweighs mental ability every day and twice on Sunday.  

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On 9/25/2017 at 9:46 AM, Runnin said:

A little surprised people are so quick to discount the mental side.  No one answered why it is that some people with ugly, limited swings can regularly score better than golfer whose physical game clearly looks better?

The mental - and emotional - side is quite important. How do you practice the mental? Expose yourself to multiple golf situations so you don't have to invent a whole new shot if your ball misses the fairway.

Also, one can do things such as practice alignment and pre-shot routine so that basic things become automatic - eliminate the need for petty decisionmaking. That way, you don't have to go through a 17-line checklist before you feel comfortable to hit the ball.

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The mental side of the game is hard to quantify.

Eric Jones has some good stuff on youtube on the subject.  He talks about 3 brains, the thinking brain, the emotional brain and the athletic brain which does all the work.  The thinking brain handles club selection and course management.  The emotional brain produces confidence and anxiety.  And the athletic brain hits the ball.  His 'athletic brain' term might be thought of as purely physical, though I wouldn't myself.

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4 minutes ago, Runnin said:

The mental side of the game is hard to quantify.

Eric Jones has some good stuff on youtube on the subject.  He talks about 3 brains, the thinking brain, the emotional brain and the athletic brain which does all the work.  The thinking brain handles club selection and course management.  The emotional brain produces confidence and anxiety.  And the athletic brain hits the ball.  His 'athletic brain' term might be thought of as purely physical, though I wouldn't myself.

that's a good summary. 

I think the 'physical' crowd here is arguing that the 'thinking brain' doesn't have a huge impact as that stuff gets simple once you play enough: if you practice enough, you can minimize the emotinal brain contribution: and the athletic brain they consider part of the physical process

the mental crowd would argue that for newer golfers, the thinking and emotional brain is a big contributor at this stage of experience and the athletic brain is a combo of mental and physical

of course, the one is the only true and absolute truth - :-P

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Not really, golfers do 5 things really well. They are all physical.

 

I think people get stuck on it is more mental because they don't want accept they can't do something. It's just an excuse. The only time I think the mental aspect comes more into play is when you are trying to change your swing through practice. You are trying to consciously change your swing so that you can do the swing unconsciously on the course. The other time is with shot selection.

The best golfers in the world are able to control the clubface relative to the path better than any other golfers. The precision they are able to do this is not something you can consciously control. The clubface rotates about 90 degrees in under half a second in the downswing. You do not have the time to mentally think about trying to control this. This is all the physical ability to get the clubface to line up somewhere consistently with the swing path to produce a good shot. The best golfers have even less time to do this since they swing faster. They have to do this more precisely because the farther you hit the ball the more precise you need to be. 3 degrees of error will produce a shot more offline for a person who hits it 300 yards versus a person who hits it 275 yards. 

A golfer isn't thinking, "Ok, on this shot I am going to hit the ball so the clubface is 2 degrees open, and I know the swing path is 3 degrees out. That isn't happening.

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Offhand, I asked my son what he thought the distribution of mental to physical aspects were in golf.

He told me 50/50.

This really surprised me until he explained that during practice you are using mostly mental aspects to make sure you are doing things right. You analyze every shot you make. That takes a lot more mental effort than physical which is like one shot per two minutes or more. The thinking process is the rest of the time. So, maybe 99% mental?

On the course, 99% physical.

Interesting perspective, but I think he's more or less on to something. He gave this like 5 seconds of thought before answering.

Edited by Lihu

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Sorry to break my promise of sorts, but a few corrections needed…

32 minutes ago, saevel25 said:

Not really, golfers do 5 things really well. They are all physical.

Of course, because we're not psychologists, so yeah, they're physical things. The best players also don't have mental breakdowns that stop them from being able to hit a distance wedge, either.

I tend to agree with the rest of what you wrote, though, too.

22 minutes ago, Lihu said:

This really surprised me until he explained that during practice you are using mostly mental aspects to make sure you are doing things right.

Practice isn't playing golf. It's practicing. And you're still doing more physical work than you are mental. The best practicers, after all, are often stupid monkeys.

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1 minute ago, iacas said:

Practice isn't playing golf. It's practicing. And you're still doing more physical work than you are mental. The best practicers, after all, are often stupid monkeys.

I should ask him, but the way he was describing it, I think he was referring to getting into specific body positions, filming and reviewing video as mental things. Maybe those could also be categorized as "physical" as in taking measurements and analyzing physical data?

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2 hours ago, Runnin said:

The mental side of the game is hard to quantify.

Eric Jones has some good stuff on youtube on the subject.  He talks about 3 brains, the thinking brain, the emotional brain and the athletic brain which does all the work.  The thinking brain handles club selection and course management.  The emotional brain produces confidence and anxiety.  And the athletic brain hits the ball.  His 'athletic brain' term might be thought of as purely physical, though I wouldn't myself.

Ok, so what you are talking about is sense (we have 5 senses) processing, motor sequencing, process control, basic decision making based on information provided by 5 senses, etc. But of course!! We all know that we deliberately take the club back using our brains in the opposite direction to the target and return it towards the target. Please give me a break, you know exactly that's not what this thread is about is it since all these deliberate decision making and ensuing action apply to every breathing moment of our lives.   

Isn't your actual premise of starting the thread that golf is unique in that it requires disproportionately more emotional control (fight or flight - which manifest in nerves, loss of confidence, blah, blah, etc.) than other activities or sports? 

If so, NO, still a very emphatic NO. You can make golf about fight or flight (emotional brain - much of what golf psychologist like Bob Rotella teach about dealing with) as much as you want to but it is not even a basic requirement since nothing we do on the course or with a golf club is about life or death (99.99% of time anyway.. ). 

If lot of your golf athletic brain activity is interrupted by superceeding impulses from your emotional brain then by all means practice meditation (I recommend transcendental) or get a sense of humor about kicking a ball around in a park or something, but for god sake stop putting golf on the WRONG pedestal. .  

Edited by GolfLug
Bunch of typos..

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