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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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My wife is a classical musician, and she taught these 4 steps when it comes to learning (I dont't know if its a formalized structure by someone famous):

1. don't know how to do it, can't do it
2. know how to do it, can't do it
3. know how to do it, can do it
4. don't know how to do it, can do it

When she performs a Beethoven piece for example, she learns the sheet music only to forget it later (i.e. no longer sight reading).  The performance is just playing music, not remembering which notes to hit. "Learning how to forget" and it hits notes (pun intended) from iacas's stupid monkeys thread.

This is aside from mental game of handling say pressure putts, and I'm not making claims on mental vs physical, but i do see corollaries to golf (as well as a lot of other things).

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18 minutes ago, bones75 said:

My wife is a classical musician, and she taught these 4 steps when it comes to learning (I dont't know if its a formalized structure by someone famous):

1. don't know how to do it, can't do it
2. know how to do it, can't do it
3. know how to do it, can do it
4. don't know how to do it, can do it

When she performs a Beethoven piece for example, she learns the sheet music only to forget it later (i.e. no longer sight reading).  The performance is just playing music, not remembering which notes to hit. "Learning how to forget" and it hits notes (pun intended) from iacas's stupid monkeys thread.

This is aside from mental game of handling say pressure putts, and I'm not making claims on mental vs physical, but i do see corollaries to golf (as well as a lot of other things).

Have a look at this:

 

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I say "physical." Because when I feel strong, I can pound the ball to my limits. When I don't, I try to pump myself up mentally but don't get the same results. My energy level is inconsistent. I use Swing Oil and other supplements to keep up the energy level. 

Edited by Mr. Desmond

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4 minutes ago, Lihu said:

Have a look at this:

 

That's the one!  It's good to know the established term "stages of competence".  Have heard coaches talk about it my whole life, but didn't know the recognized term.

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I voted physical and it's not even close. I'll take Dustin Johnson's swing and a crappy mental game every day of the week and happily cash a bunch of checks.

Here's where I think mental game is overrated. You have a typical golfer who struggles with hitting it fat, thin and has to hit a shot over water. They miss it and it goes in the water and they blame the mental game because they got nervous.....well hell yeah of course they're nervous, they don't have any confidence (backed up by their experience) to pull the shot off. The problem and solution is physical, not mental.

Guys that are "head cases" typically have issues rooted with a mechanics problem. Take Tiger for example a few years ago when he was accused of having the yips with his pitching/chipping. The reason his short game sucked is because is technique was bad, nothing like it was under Harmon or Haney where he used the bounce of the wedge. When studies have been done on the putting yips it again is a physical issue, there is confusion between what the eyes are seeing and what the player is feeling/sensing. How the putter's alignment, head shape and weight interact with a player are very essential, also grip style is important to consider. Bernard Langer had the yips, his solution was to change how he putted, again a physical adjustment.

Also being nervous isn't necessarily a bad thing. Pros get nervous all the time, some play better because of it. I've hit some of my best shots when I've been "under the gun" and hit horrible shots on the range with no "pressure".

23 hours ago, iacas said:

@mvmac can ask Xander how much time he spends on his full swing vs. his mental game. Guess what: in the 65/20/15 ratio… we included the mental game. It just rounded down to zero is all.

Very, very, very little time on solely mental game. Don't get me wrong mental game still plays a role and I've been very impressed by Xander's ability to not get overwhelmed by this run he's been on since mid-June: getting in the hunt in big tournaments, playing well on courses he's never played before, who he's being paired with, the amount of money each shot potentially means, etc. 

The mental stuff he does is all mixed in with how he builds the physical part of his game. His mental toughness/confidence is a result of his solid physical game: improving his swing, hitting the shots he wants to hit in practice (course or range), solid putting technique and rolling in a bunch of putts from 5/6ft and in on the practice green. He doesn't "fake" his confidence, it's all backed up by what he knows he can do with the physical part of his game.

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23 minutes ago, mvmac said:

Here's where I think mental game is overrated. You have a typical golfer who struggles with hitting it fat, thin and has to hit a shot over water. They miss it and it goes in the water and they blame the mental game because they got nervous.....well hell yeah of course they're nervous, they don't have any confidence (backed up by their experience) to pull the shot off. The problem and solution is physical, not mental.

Bingo.

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I think it's hard to separate the mental and physical as they are so closely linked. 

Speaking as a relatively new golfer, I have to fully concentrate when swinging so I see the mental side as a big part of it. Perhaps when you get much better you don't have to think so much about it so it's more physical.

Also I would say that whilst everyone hits bad shots, if you are stong mentally you react better and are less likely to hit subsequent bad shots.

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1 hour ago, omelette said:

Also I would say that whilst everyone hits bad shots, if you are stong mentally you react better and are less likely to hit subsequent bad shots.

Just not true. Ian Poulter, Hunter Mahan, and many other pros have hit glorious shanks in the middle of a tournament only to hit a beautiful shot immediately after. It’s not because they have amazing mental strength. They’re excellent ball strikers and their physical skill makes it unlikely they will make the same mechanical error again. I don’t hit 20 shanks in a row because I’m a head case. Being happy, confident, cheerful, motivated, will not make you stop coming over the top. Executing the 5 keys properly will.

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32 minutes ago, Vinsk said:

Just not true. Ian Poulter, Hunter Mahan, and many other pros have hit glorious shanks in the middle of a tournament only to hit a beautiful shot immediately after. It’s not because they have amazing mental strength. They’re excellent ball strikers and their physical skill makes it unlikely they will make the same mechanical error again. I don’t hit 20 shanks in a row because I’m a head case. Being happy, confident, cheerful, motivated, will not make you stop coming over the top. Executing the 5 keys properly will.

Yeah true, although getting angry or stressed causes tension which can affect your swing so if you can stay calm and relaxed you're less likely to make bad swings. 

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The better you are physically, the less likely mental issues will affect you. Be the Buddha of unconscious competence.

If your physical game is good enough that it's essentially second nature, cognitive errors won't really manifest themselves in bad shots. If you were as consistent as a machine, your emotional state wouldn't matter. The mental game would be irrelevant. 

Now think about the 25 handicapper. He's more likely to hit bad shots, even in a good mental state. And those bad shots are more likely to negatively affect his confidence (rightfully so), which might increase the odds even more of a bad shot. The great mental player won't let it affect him, but he's still a 25 handicap, he's still likely to hit bad shots. Just slightly less so. Both of those golfers need to get better physically to make significant improvements. 

All things equal, the stronger mental player will be better. But a weak mental player who is excellent physically- machine like consistency- will beat a weak physical player who is rock solid emotionally. 

The physical is far more important.

 

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6 hours ago, bones75 said:

My wife is a classical musician, and she taught these 4 steps when it comes to learning (I dont't know if its a formalized structure by someone famous):

1. don't know how to do it, can't do it
2. know how to do it, can't do it
3. know how to do it, can do it
4. don't know how to do it, can do it

When she performs a Beethoven piece for example, she learns the sheet music only to forget it later (i.e. no longer sight reading).  The performance is just playing music, not remembering which notes to hit. "Learning how to forget" and it hits notes (pun intended) from iacas's stupid monkeys thread.

This is aside from mental game of handling say pressure putts, and I'm not making claims on mental vs physical, but i do see corollaries to golf (as well as a lot of other things).

Wow! I was kind of thinking along the same lines. I studied piano for 10 years, until my teacher announced that she couldn't bring me any further along and wanted to set up a rehearsal for some professors at the Dana School of Music at Youngstown State U!

Well, that scared the living crap out of me! In the limited scope of my knowledge at the time, I thought the only way to make a living in music was to perform before an audience, which I hated! Despite the annual or semi-annual recitals I was required to perform.

Your comment reminded me of one of those recitals. The piece ended with an ascending series of chords, 5 notes per hand, leading to a finale! I was playing from memory, and in that mode I always thought a couple measures ahead. When I thought up to the ascending chord sequence, I couldn't see it in my mind! I tried again and another blank! I started to panic and didn't know what to do. But my hands played that final sequence flawlessly!

Call It "muscle memory" or what you will, that moment scared me so bad that I gave up the piano. Haven't touched one since! A seminal moment in my life, and one I deeply regret!

As far as the "mental" side of golf, I don't think it really involves knowing how to swing a club. It's more like thinking your way around the golf course. Strategy, and not making dumb decisions about how to play a shot .In other words, you have to know your own game. You have to know whether you can make the shot, or not!  

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7 hours ago, GolfLug said:

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. .  

No.  

I wasn't interested in a debate on whether golf is more mental or physical.  I assumed people would say more mental and that would lead to a discussion on ways one might practice the mental side.  I should not have started the poll.  I apologize for starting a silly, meaningless debate. 

My question was and still is, what are the practice techniques and playing approaches to reflect that side of the game which some feel is predominant. 

The Eric Jones videos are really interesting to me.  I like the 3 brain idea, which is actually 3 different parts of the brain that control three different aspects of golf - strategic thought, emotion and execution.  I think it can be very useful to be able to compartmentalize these often conflicting thoughts.

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37 minutes ago, Runnin said:

I wasn't interested in a debate on whether golf is more mental or physical.  I assumed people would say more mental and that would lead to a discussion on ways one might practice the mental side.  I should not have started the poll.

Then you should have written something to the effect of "How do I fix my mental game?" with an OP like "I hit great on the range and am built like an Adonis while my lesser peers are scrawny short people who seem to outplay me because they have a great attitude. . .How do I get that same attitude?" or something to that effect. . . :whistle:

You likely would end up with similar responses. The reason is that there is no amount of mental game that can turn a 10HC into a scratch player.

 

Quote

I apologize for starting a silly, meaningless debate. 

Why? We have those here all the time! :-D

 

Quote

My question was and still is, what are the practice techniques and playing approaches to reflect that side of the game which some feel is predominant. 

Make a solid swing that you can take anywhere. IIRC, you mentioned that you mainly practice on the range, and rarely get out on the course.

 

Quote

The Eric Jones videos are really interesting to me.  I like the 3 brain idea, which is actually 3 different parts of the brain that control three different aspects of golf - strategic thought, emotion and execution.  I think it can be very useful to be able to compartmentalize these often conflicting thoughts.

I'd lean towards getting a copy of LSW, that would help your physical game which in turn will help your mental game.

Edited by Lihu

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36 minutes ago, Runnin said:

No.  

I wasn't interested in a debate on whether golf is more mental or physical.  I assumed people would say more mental and that would lead to a discussion on ways one might practice the mental side.  I should not have started the poll.  I apologize for starting a silly, meaningless debate. 

My question was and still is, what are the practice techniques and playing approaches to reflect that side of the game which some feel is predominant. 

The Eric Jones videos are really interesting to me.  I like the 3 brain idea, which is actually 3 different parts of the brain that control three different aspects of golf - strategic thought, emotion and execution.  I think it can be very useful to be able to compartmentalize these often conflicting thoughts.

Huh.  Really?!

I can't believe that someone actually believes that a game that requires an extraordinarily amount of physical coordination, is more "mental"...

 

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5 minutes ago, Lihu said:

I'd lean towards getting a copy of LSW, that would help your physical game which in turn will help your mental game.

I was absolutely going to until I saw the price.  ;-)

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4 minutes ago, Runnin said:

I was absolutely going to until I saw the price.  ;-)

He must have raised the price. . . :ninja:? Try to negotiate that with Erik. . .

I'm not affiliated nor in any way endorse this site, but I do have a copy of it and recommend it to anyone who really wants to improve their games. :-)

Edited by Lihu

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34 minutes ago, Runnin said:

The Eric Jones videos are really interesting to me.  I like the 3 brain idea, which is actually 3 different parts of the brain that control three different aspects of golf - strategic thought, emotion and execution.  I think it can be very useful to be able to compartmentalize these often conflicting thoughts.

I think you may have assumed many would say mental due to a rather common mistake of people thinking, ‘How hard can this be?’ Ernest Jones’ ideology is misleading at best. Sure, we watch Usain Bolt tear down the track knowing we could never do be as fast as him. We watch a NBA guy do an amazing display of ball handling followed by a jump from the free throw line and dunk it. No way we say. But we watch a talented golfer and nothing stands out as phenomenally difficult. So this silly idea forms that says ‘Just swing the club.’ Sounds pleasing after hours, weeks, hell years of trying to learn an effective and reliable golf swing. We buy books, training aids to no avail. Some people finally just lie to themselves and say they’re happy with their swing as is and it’s all just fun and just go out and ‘swing the club.’ Sorry. As @mvmac said, he’s striped it under pressure and duffed it on the range when no pressure existed. Golf is hard. Anyone who says otherwise is selling something.

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