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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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3 minutes ago, Mr. Desmond said:

Agreed, I don't think the mental side is trivial - if your confidence is shot, you're toast. If you're in your head with swing thoughts, you are toast or inconsistent. You've got to find a way to turn off thoughts and let the swing occur unhindered.

Given all the games I see people playing on each other on the course, I'd guess that the mental aspects have some bearing. For instance, I drove a ball into yet another tree when I was laughing at a joke one of my partners made, but then this didn't explain all the other trees I hit during the same round. . .

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26 minutes ago, Mr. Desmond said:

Agreed, I don't think the mental side is trivial - if your confidence is shot, you're toast. If you're in your head with swing thoughts, you are toast or inconsistent. You've got to find a way to turn off thoughts and let the swing occur unhindered.

I can manage one swing thought at a time, but that's pretty much it. It's my affliction, but thought #1 for me is take a full swing but just don't try to kill it. Why I still have to remind myself again and again after 53 years is a mystery. The rest has to be in my static setup and muscle memory. However, game planning, green reading are largely mental IME, along with a few other mental aspects. I am guessing it's somewhere in the 70:30 to 90:10 physical:mental for me (probably closer to the latter), but it varies from person to person and even round to round, year to year, week to week for me too. Additional anecdotal evidence or examples aren't going to convince me it's more than 90% physical after 53 years playing...and it doesn't matter anyway.

Edited by Midpack
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14 minutes ago, Midpack said:

I can manage one swing thought at a time, but that's pretty much it. It's my affliction, but thought #1 for me is take a full swing but just don't try to kill it. Why I still have to remind myself again and again after 53 years is a mystery. The rest has to be in my static setup and muscle memory. However, game planning, green reading are largely mental IME, along with a few other mental aspects. I am guessing it's somewhere in the 70:30 to 90:10 physical:mental for me (probably closer to the latter), but it varies from person to person and even round to round, year to year, week to week for me too. Additional anecdotal evidence or examples aren't going to convince me it's more than 90% physical after 53 years playing...and it doesn't matter anyway.

According to the breaking 80 website and link I posted earlier, based upon the Pareto principle or about 80/20 is a decent estimate. So, your range falls within that. I bet on days when you are "in the groove" it's more like 90/10 and on days that are lackluster 70/30?

https://break80golf.com/golf-mental/

For people like my son, it's 99/1. He just plays on, and I'm starting to get that way. Score is second to enjoying your game. I just put a handicap of "10" as a placeholder because that's still my official handicap, but if I updated with all my recent scores it would be higher. My guess is around where you are at 15 (shooting mid to high 80s with a few low 90s on tougher courses), but I can also drive short par 4 greens with some regularity if I don't hit over/left/right of it. Tough call what to change it to, but I don't play net anyway.

Edited by Lihu
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3 minutes ago, Lihu said:

 I bet on days when you are "in the groove" it's more like 90/10 and on days that are lackluster 70/30?

So what you're saying is that the 'mental' part of the game should have the goal of taking the mental part of the game out of the game.

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Just now, rehmwa said:

So what you're saying is that the 'mental' part of the game should have the goal of taking the mental part of the game out of the game.

Yes. It was mentioned by another poster as well, and I agreed with him.

Don't stop not thinking about your shots, but definitely don't overthink them. There's no point. My old boss always told me "It doesn't help to worry." for work or life related events. I think it applies to golf as well. It's doesn't help to worry or have expectations. Just swing your best, and hope it lands where you want it.

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2 minutes ago, Lihu said:

Yes. It was mentioned by another poster as well, and I agreed with him.

Don't stop not thinking about your shots, but definitely don't overthink them. There's no point. My old boss always told me "It doesn't help to worry." for work or life related events. I think it applies to golf as well. It's doesn't help to worry or have expectations. Just swing your best, and hope it lands where you want it.

I'll consider it.  My current policy of "swing as hard you possibly can" works GREAT....    (as far as you know)

 

 

(Actually, I was just word playing, it's pretty normal for everyone to know that.  It's more of a nod/smile/mockery to the wierd and highly repetitive thread this has become)

Edited by rehmwa
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3 minutes ago, rehmwa said:

I'll consider it.  My current policy of "swing as hard you possibly can" works GREAT....    (as far as you know)

Believe it or not, I agree with this. However, to me, "Swing as hard as you possibly can" also doesn't meant swing for the fences every time, but rather,  just as hard as you can safely. . .

Edited by Lihu
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1 hour ago, Jack Watson said:

You can't redefine a term like mental in the middle of a discussion.  When that happens I'm out.

You are the one redefining the term. Look at the OP, he was asking about how you practice the mental side of the game. You're talking about something different.

1 hour ago, Jack Watson said:

In individual sports we cannot escape personal responsibility via denial and the assertion that the mental side has minimal effect on performance is comical.

The mental side has a small effect on score, what the ball does, when compared to the golfer's physical ability. Let's say a bad mental game costs you 2-3 shots a round. That's nothing compared to what you would shoot if you started hitting the ball like a 20 handicapper.

This question (or a variation of it) still has not been answered by those who voted for "Mental". Would you rather have Nicklaus' mental game with your swing or Nicklaus' swing with your mental game?

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3 hours ago, klineka said:

If you would have read the entire thread, you would have noticed that "yips" has been mentioned and shot down numerous times, there are physical explanations as to why the "yips" happen. It is not mental. There is a swing fault that is causing it, whether that be alignment, putting stroke etc.

Well my God, if it's already been 'proven' on here how day I say otherwise.

Suffice to say we strongly disagree but there's not much point in me saying much else other than to add that many pros who have had the yips through the years disagree with you and whatever has been 'proven' by TST gods.

Not sure why people are getting so worked up in this thread.

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57 minutes ago, Midpack said:

There are only two types of people in the world, those who can extrapolate from incomplete data...

I think to understand what the people who state that golf is 99% physical, you'd need to swing like them. It's something you either have experienced or not.

Golf is a very statistical game, so, it's physical. How you score, how you drive the ball, your approaches, they all have measures of how far or how accurate you can hit any distance. It's basically a game of distance. From these distance statistics, you can determine how well you can score on average, based upon data from thousands of golfers. Possibly more?

If you play better than your distance would indicate based upon data gathered from many golfers in Broadie's book and LSW, then you are an outlier. However, this also means that you'd need to have every single aspect of your game honed down to a fine point. If any of these things is mediocre any given round, you'll score worse by whatever score that aspect of your game is contributed by that "thing".

For example, and this is just to illustrate my point not based off of real data, if a golfer drives 200 yards on average, then generally he falls into the "bogey" category or would score anywhere from 15 over to 20 over. If that same golfer could drive 225 yards on average, then he would score somewhere in the 10 handicap range and if he drives 250 yards on average he has potential to be scratch if everything else is well tuned. If a golfer averages 280 yards then he'll likely be a low single digit or scratch even with a mediocre rest of his game.

The reason for this is purely statistical. If you are an outlier to this "distance/handicap curve" in that you are let's say a 10 handicap with a 200 yard drive, then the odds are not in your favor of scoring to your handicap all the time. You really would be "maxing out" on all your other skills.

There's a plot in LSW that shows a simple relationship between distance (swing speed) and handicap. Below that is a link to a page that Erik put into his post regarding distance versus accuracy.

 

 

 

9 minutes ago, skydog said:

Well my God, if it's already been 'proven' on here how day I say otherwise.

Suffice to say we strongly disagree but there's not much point in me saying much else other than to add that many pros who have had the yips through the years disagree with you and whatever has been 'proven' by TST gods.

Not sure why people are getting so worked up in this thread.

Who's getting worked up, I think there was a miscommunication a few posts back, but other than that it seems pretty level headed?

Edited by Lihu
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The issue, though, is the mental "aspect" of the game always looks backwards.  Someone always "was" in the zone.  Nobody is ever "going to be" in the zone.  Whereas in 2000, Tiger Woods playing well at the British was probably a pretty likely outcome given his US Open.  Nobody ever seems to be able to predict when a golfer will become mentally strong.  Its always used as an excuse or a justification after the fact.  Which is why its nonsense.

You miss a ton of short chips and putts, and self-diagnose yourself with the yips.  Its a storyline you've made up because you don't want to tell yourself you stink and chipping and putting.  It removes it from your control and makes an inability to roll a 3 foot putt straight into some sort of uncontrollable bogeyman.  This is how human beings cope with things that are outside of their control but about which they care very much - they make up nonsense narratives to try to explain them. Cavemen blamed thunder when their loved ones got sick.  You blame the yips when you can't make a three footer.  Both are equally true, and both excuse you without working to find the cause and fix the problem.

One of my favorite things in golf is the difference between a wormburner hook with my 3 wood and a gorgeous, high, tight draw is pretty tiny at my swing speed.  We are talking tiny degrees and very small increments of measurement.  In the golf swing, the difference between a great shot and an awful one is pretty small compared to the differences in other sports.  Golf is a unique game in that respect.  As Sam Snead said to Ted Williams, "sure, Ted, hitting a baseball is hard, but we have to play our foul balls."  There is no margin for error in golf.

I saw a very good player at the Open at Chambers' Bay live literally cold top a fairway wood.  Mental mistake? No, variance.  You hit enough 3 woods, you'll top one. 

Some of us accept the fact that there is variance and that sometimes we hit bad shots no matter how good we are, and the only path to improvement we can actually control and get benefit from is to work on our golf swings and putting strokes.  Others can't stand the fact that there are aspects of golf completely out of their control, so they call the chaos of golf the mental game so they can come up with theories to try to control it.

Don't be the caveman yelling at the inexplicable thunder.  Work on what you can control, which is the physical.  Make your median shot better and all your shots will become better because they are all anchored by it. Or just skip all the work and read a few Rotella books. Either one.

Above all else, to thine own self be true.

Edited by johnclayton1982
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9 minutes ago, johnclayton1982 said:

Some of us accept the fact that there is variance and that sometimes we hit bad shots no matter how good we are, and the only path to improvement we can actually control and get benefit from is to work on our golf swings and putting strokes.

I hate to burst your bubble, but we're all aware that the only way to get better is to practice.

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1 minute ago, JonMA1 said:

I hate to burst your bubble, but we're all aware that the only way to get better is to practice.

No, he said working on our golf swings and putting strokes. You're contending that practicing your mental game will improve your score, which is what I believe both @johnclayton1982 and I, along with others, disagree with.

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Just now, Pretzel said:

No, he said working on our golf swings and putting strokes. You're contending that practicing your mental game will improve your score, which is what I believe both @johnclayton1982 and I, along with others, disagree with.

With all due respect Tyler, you're mistaken. That's not what I said or meant.

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1 minute ago, JonMA1 said:

With all due respect Tyler, you're mistaken. That's not what I said or meant.

So if you agree that practicing your mental game will not improve your score, why do you think it's as important to golf as you seem to have been stating it is? I was trying to separate the mental game and the physical aspect of the game in my previous post, to keep things clear.

I'm just trying to get the full rationale in this post. It seems to me that if something has a large effect on how well you play golf, practicing it will make you play better. If practicing your mental game will not make you a better golfer, then what does that have to say about its overall significance in your golf game (or mine)?

Edited by Pretzel
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5 hours ago, Jack Watson said:

You can't redefine a term like mental in the middle of a discussion.  When that happens I'm out.

You’re the one redefining the term man.

4 hours ago, Mr. Desmond said:

Agreed, I don't think the mental side is trivial - if your confidence is shot, you're toast. If you're in your head with swing thoughts, you are toast or inconsistent. You've got to find a way to turn off thoughts and let the swing occur unhindered.

Your confidence is shot because of your physical skills. Root cause.

1 hour ago, skydog said:

Well my God, if it's already been 'proven' on here how day I say otherwise.

The current leading theory has the tips as a physical thing. You can google “focal dystonia yips” and other things.

Basically, the eyes see something they don’t like and react to try to “save” the putt/chip.

Regardless most golfers don’t have the yips.

We are almost to the horse meat burgers.

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Just now, Pretzel said:

So if you agree that practicing your mental game will not improve your score, why do you think it's as important to golf as you seem to have been stating it is? 

I'm just trying to get the full rationale here. It seems to me that if something has a large effect on how well you play golf, practicing it will make you play better. If practicing your mental game will not make you a better golfer, then what does that have to say about its overall significance in your golf game (or mine)?

Do you really want to know what I think or do you just want to paraphrase my posts?

This is what I think...

  1. The physical part of the game is overwhelmingly the most important - for everyone.
  2. For some, the mental part plays a bigger part than it might for the average player and more than many believe. Still not anywhere near 50/50, imo.
  3. Practicing the physical part is the only way to make substantial improvement. Other than maybe one person, I've yet to read any posts arguing that obvious point.
  4. For those of us who know emotions and too many swing thoughts have a negative impact on our scores, there may be room for improvement but to a far lesser degree than the physical part. 

 

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