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Is Golf More Mental or Physical?


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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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4 minutes ago, Lihu said:

There is definitely something to this a well. No one denies that your state of mind does affect how you perform.

The only thing people are arguing is how much is a reasonable estimate?

For my wild game, 1 stroke is nothing so mental plays nothing. If I had a round when I need 2 strokes to win or if I needed those 6 to 8 putts per round I could casually lose then my mental game would be “maximized”. However, I doubt without the extra physical training that I’d get more than 2 strokes total though.

I will say it's relative to the amount/quality of practice you have put in.

For a scratch guy mental v physical will be much more on the mental side than for a rank beginner where it's almost all physical.  They have no skills yet.  The rest of us are somewhere in between.  I cannot define actual ratios.  And here is some comic relief to the thread...I have been told about this from my ex pro who held a spot on the European tour for a year...

 

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30 minutes ago, Jack Watson said:

I will say it's relative to the amount/quality of practice you have put in.

For a scratch guy mental v physical will be much more on the mental side than for a rank beginner where it's almost all physical.  They have no skills yet.  The rest of us are somewhere in between.  I cannot define actual ratios.  And here is some comic relief to the thread...I have been told about this from my ex pro who held a spot on the European tour for a year...

 

Nonsense.  Its simply that the scratch has a tighter band so you don't notice the physical as much.  The scratch might hit a 100 yard shot to 10 feet and then 12 and then 16, but its all physical for the most part.  The beginner might hit that same shot to 10 then 50 then 70, and those are also all physical for the most part, they are just fooling you because the beginner has a bigger physical difference relative to each shot.  Just because the physical difference is, on average, 2% in the scratch and 20% in the beginner doesn't make it "more mental".  Its a narrative that people make up to try to explain random variance (I was in the zone! No, you play golf a ton, so by variance you are going to have an insane round once in a while.  Just like if you flip a coin 1,000 times you'll get 10 heads in a row.  Your not in a "heads zone").

Your arms hit the ball using the physical skills you've developed in practice.

This is basically the discussion you are having:

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5 minutes ago, johnclayton1982 said:

Nonsense.  Its simply that the scratch has a tighter band so you don't notice the physical as much.  The scratch might hit a 100 yard shot to 10 feet and then 12 and then 16, but its all physical for the most part.  The beginner might hit that same shot to 10 then 50 then 70, and those are also all physical for the most part, they are just fooling you because the beginner has a bigger physical difference relative to each shot.  Just because the physical difference is, on average, 2% in the scratch and 20% in the beginner doesn't make it "more mental".  Its a narrative that people make up to try to explain random variance (I was in the zone! No, you play golf a ton, so by variance you are going to have an insane round once in a while.  Just like if you flip a coin 1,000 times you'll get 10 heads in a row.  Your not in a "heads zone").

Your arms hit the ball using the physical skills you've developed in practice.

This is basically the discussion you are having:

So ironic you posted that clip because I actually have real world experience teaching people to surf.  

The clip speaks for itself.

Really,  I suggest you read what I have posted already OBJECTIVELY.

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4 hours ago, Jack Watson said:

No,  but you might make a new personal best.  Especially if you currently hold the mistaken belief that golf is not mental.

Nobody has said there’s not a mental part. It’s just a small part. It doesn't affect performance much.

2 hours ago, JonMA1 said:

My only disagreement is with anyone who believes the mental part of the game has little impact for everyone.

Your swing sucks. You’re gonna have better days than others. The days it’s bad you’re often gonna think worse things. The days it’s just as bad but you get away with some things you don’t think as poorly.

1 hour ago, Jack Watson said:

Harry Vardon said a tranquil mind is best for golf.  

That may have been good for him. Maybe not everyone.

And he could beat a five handicapper on his worse mental day.

41 minutes ago, Jack Watson said:

For a scratch guy mental v physical will be much more on the mental side than for a rank beginner where it's almost all physical.

Uh, no.

1 minute ago, Jack Watson said:

The clip speaks for itself.

Really,  I suggest you read what I have posted already OBJECTIVELY.

:doh:

You’re assuming we have not.

You’re assuming incorrectly. For me at least.

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@Jack Watson. Here's two scenarios for an 18 handicapper:

1. He spends 7 days with Bob Rotella.

2. He spends 7 days with a good instructor like @iacas 

In which scenario is he leaving with a better chance at hitting the ball more solid? If the golfer's impact still sucks it doesn't matter that they can concentrate or think positively, they are still going to hit crappy shots. Which will then negatively effect their "mental game".

I understand you're talking about intent to improve but to me that's not what we're talking about in regards to mental game.


Quick observation from my own experience playing in our club championship the past three days. I had a two shot lead with two holes to play and made a poor strategy mistake on 17, played too conservatively, then hit a bad shot, made double and eventually lost in a playoff. 

I would never consider myself a "mentally strong" player. During the last round I'll admit I got nervous when I got the lead early in the round. I had negative thoughts in my head about screwing up, got ahead of myself and thought about how cool it would have been to win, all that crap. Yet I continued to hit good shots and didn't make any bogeys until 17. 

I'm not saying my mechanics are awesome or anything but I've improved it to the point where it's much more functional "under the gun". I did that through training the physical part of my swing. The physical part was good even when the mental game wasn't. Even the physical screw up trumped the mental screw up.

Yes the mental side plays a role but golf is by far more physical. It's normal for us to ride an emotional rollercoaster when we play golf. We have to rely on our physical training to get us through it.

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Hiya

I would venture that it depends on the standard.  This is based, like a lot of things, on personal experience.

When I started off, it was almost all physical.  Just getting the body moving in the right direction was all learning movements - hence physical.

Now, I'll give you an anecdote (yeah, I know, the plural of anecdote is not data).  I was playing a round with my instructor.  First 4 holes, FW hit at 50%,  Shot into green 50% on green.  Instructor says to me - stop thinking, just get up there, look at the target and hit it.

Next 5 holes - 4 GIR.  Simply because I wasn't getting myself all tensed up about the result and ensuring I rotated enough back and forward.  I just relaxed and hit the damn thing.  

So for me, now, mental is a significant percentage.  Is it higher then physical - no. At the end of the day, we are swinging a lump of steel at 100mph.  That is, by definition, physical.  However, the better I get, the less advice I get to keep the wrist flat at impact.....get my posture right.... etc, and the more advice I get to attend to what I am thinking.

 

By the way - I haven't read the whole 21 page thread, so apologies if I am simply adding to some already well debated subjects.

We could also start a debate on why there are no mental coaches in clubs, yet plenty on tour - but I haven't been on the site long enough to get involved in that ;-)

 

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13 minutes ago, carri10 said:

Hiya

I would venture that it depends on the standard.  This is based, like a lot of things, on personal experience.

When I started off, it was almost all physical.  Just getting the body moving in the right direction was all learning movements - hence physical.

Now, I'll give you an anecdote (yeah, I know, the plural of anecdote is not data).  I was playing a round with my instructor.  First 4 holes, FW hit at 50%,  Shot into green 50% on green.  Instructor says to me - stop thinking, just get up there, look at the target and hit it.

Next 5 holes - 4 GIR.  Simply because I wasn't getting myself all tensed up about the result and ensuring I rotated enough back and forward.  I just relaxed and hit the damn thing.  

So for me, now, mental is a significant percentage.  Is it higher then physical - no. At the end of the day, we are swinging a lump of steel at 100mph.  That is, by definition, physical.  However, the better I get, the less advice I get to keep the wrist flat at impact.....get my posture right.... etc, and the more advice I get to attend to what I am thinking.

 

By the way - I haven't read the whole 21 page thread, so apologies if I am simply adding to some already well debated subjects.

We could also start a debate on why there are no mental coaches in clubs, yet plenty on tour - but I haven't been on the site long enough to get involved in that ;-)

 

All the improvents were physical. Relaxing, flat wrist, posture, etc. are physical improvements that were conveyed to you.

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21 minutes ago, Lihu said:

All the improvents were physical. Relaxing, flat wrist, posture, etc. are physical improvements that were conveyed to you.

I know what you're saying.  But at the range I could work on them, ingrain them, slow motion swing them etc.  When I was out on the course (which is what golf is all about) I had to not focus on them and get my mind out of the way.  This, in my definition, is more mental -surely.

Now, I do think that golf is mostly physical, but the ability to "just let it happen", or "flow" or what ever is more significant than other sports.  I've never had to work on this in rugby for instance.  The game goes so quick you can't think technique.  Golf gives you too much time to think about what you're trying to do and sometimes, that just doesn't help.  Would you not agree?

 

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6 hours ago, Jack Watson said:

Your tourney round story is SO the thing I am talking about.

I guess, in that case, my "flow state" is a state of constant worrying about whether prom went well the night before with my date or if I ended up sticking my foot in my mouth without knowing it.

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6 hours ago, iacas said:

Your swing sucks.

Agreed. Just as the opinion that the mental game has less than 5% of an impact for everyone else also sucks.

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4 hours ago, carri10 said:

I know what you're saying.  But at the range I could work on them, ingrain them, slow motion swing them etc.  When I was out on the course (which is what golf is all about) I had to not focus on them and get my mind out of the way.  This, in my definition, is more mental -surely.

Now, I do think that golf is mostly physical, but the ability to "just let it happen", or "flow" or what ever is more significant than other sports.  I've never had to work on this in rugby for instance.  The game goes so quick you can't think technique.  Golf gives you too much time to think about what you're trying to do and sometimes, that just doesn't help.  Would you not agree?

 

Exactly, thinking too much on the course doesn't help, which is why I think the game is by your own logic not mental at all. By not wanting any thoughts or swing thoughts, it seems it's anything but a mental game?

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What a thread - the horse died days ago. Like most sports, golf is more physical than mental, by how much we’ll never all agree, largely because it varies by skill level and each individual. 

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16 hours ago, JonMA1 said:

After today's round, I'm leaning more towards the importance of the mental game. Not 50/50, but a lot more than what some think and more than I previously believed.

@mcanadiens - I replied to one of your posts saying I could relate to where you were coming from. Today, the lack of mental focus hit me right between the eyes.

A much more real thing for those of us without good swings. To keep it together, we got to hit each of our compensations perfectly. Damn near impossible thing to do when you get out of sorts.

For what its worth, my day didn't go much better. I think I'm going to take both my mental and physical efforts into other things for a while and give the ball-in-the-hole game a break.

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17 minutes ago, Lihu said:

Exactly, thinking too much on the course doesn't help, which is why I think the game is by your own logic not mental at all. By not wanting any thoughts or swing thoughts, it seems it's anything but a mental game?

Good point - Let's say mental control, then.  Like a lot of things, it's how we define the question that counts!

When you put it like that, it is quite the opposite of chess, for example.

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5 hours ago, carri10 said:

I would venture that it depends on the standard.  This is based, like a lot of things, on personal experience.

You are completely discounting all of the physical skills you have developed to get you to where you are right now.

3 hours ago, JonMA1 said:

Agreed. Just as the opinion that the mental game has less than 5% of an impact for everyone else also sucks.

No. One is a fact.

I don't think I recall anyone saying it's < 5% for everyone. Maybe you're the exception, and you're really screwy in the grey matter.

It's still not > 50%.


Also, I find it funny that those arguing for a large mental component are arguing amongst themselves, too.

  • Some believe it's a bigger mental component to beginners, newer players, players who hit more bad shots (ignoring the fact that the root cause of the bad shots is a faulty swing).
  • Others are stating that the mental game becomes more and more important as you get better (ignoring the fact that it's your physical game that got you to that stage).
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17 minutes ago, mcanadiens said:

A much more real thing for those of us without good swings. To keep it together, we got to hit each of our compensations perfectly. Damn near impossible thing to do when you get out of sorts.

Yep. Throw in too many swing thoughts - none of which is the one that might actually help  - and it does nothing but hurt a swing that already "sucks" (my swing not yours).

For those of us who experience it, there's little debate. Yet some folks choose to believe it isn't possible. To each their own.

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4 minutes ago, JonMA1 said:

For those of us who experience it, there's little debate. Yet some folks choose to believe it isn't possible. To each their own.

Right, because nobody's ever been proven capable of lying to themselves.

Jon, you could put Tiger's brain or Jack's brain or anyone's brain inside your body and… you're still gonna shoot a really high number. They won't know where to aim either, because your swing produces shots that go all over the place.

And as I said above, if you're an exception and it's 8% for you, or 10% for you, then so be it. But it's not 50%. Your bad shots begat your mental issues. The root cause: physical.

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4 minutes ago, JonMA1 said:

Yep. Throw in too many swing thoughts - none of which is the one that might actually help  - and it does nothing but hurt a swing that already "sucks" (my swing not yours).

For those of us who experience it, there's little debate. Yet some folks choose to believe it isn't possible. To each their own.

Those folks who "experience it" are experiencing a physical swing breakdown that, generally due to putting in so much time and caring so much, their brains will not allow them to attribute to being really bad at the physical act of a golf swing.

Golf is unique in this.  In basketball, if you play a lot, you can hustle around and play D and rebound and generally be OK even if your mechanics in all facets of the game are poor.  In Golf, you can work constantly and incredibly hard on your game and still stink.  Our ego doesn't let us believe that, so it makes up a nonsense narrative about issues with the "mental game".

As Bill Parcells said, your are what your record says you are.  There are no asterisks.  In golf, your game is what your scores say you are.  You don't have a "weak mental game".  You are bad and you are (likely) wasting a whole lot of practice time.  Rather than say "I made a huge mistake with this physical approach, lets try something else, it sucks I wasted all that time" you get "its mental!"

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