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Is golf more mental or physical?

Golf more mental or physical?  

58 members have voted

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

    • More physical.
      39
    • More mental.
      19


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8 minutes ago, bones75 said:

I think some of us were talking more who stays cool and keeps their judgment in tact in competition (e.g. staying focused, being under pressure)

But that's not what makes you good. You still have to have physical ability to hit the ball well,whether you're a mental midget or ice under pressure.

E.g. If you and I are similar handicaps, you may be better under pressure than me and it might mean you beat me sometimes but probably not every time.  However, if I'm playing someone who is a 15 and is the best 15 on the planet under pressure and I'm 6, the 15 has no chance of beating me scratch, even if I'm not on my mental game. 

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17 minutes ago, bones75 said:

I think some of us were talking more who stays cool and keeps their judgment in tact in competition (e.g. staying focused, being under pressure)

Yes. Composure.

 

That's what the poll was suggesting in my opinion. Not knowledge or strategy

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12 minutes ago, JonMA1 said:

I would put my strategy and my decision-making up against any low capper. Guess what? I still suck at this game because..... my mechanics suck.

A good way of saying it.

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11 hours ago, jsgolfer said:

This has been discussed many times in other posts, but it's pretty much all physical.  You can have the strongest mental player in the world, if he can't swing a club properly, he's not going to be any good.  You have to be able to swing a club consistently, before the mental aspect even means anything. Now when you play for money or tournaments and wilt under pressure, you might consider that mental failure, but you still have to be able to swing the club correctly if you want to play really well.  

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.

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13 minutes ago, JRod4928 said:

Yes. Composure.

 

That's what the poll was suggesting in my opinion. Not knowledge or strategy

Except you need no composure to hit a golf ball. 

When I play, except on weekends, I walk from the car to the tee and hit the ball. I'm not composed at all, barely taking a practice swing and hit the ball pretty well, has nothing to do with my mental state. 

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28 minutes ago, jsgolfer said:

But that's not what makes you good. You still have to have physical ability to hit the ball well,whether you're a mental midget or ice under pressure.

For sure you are correct.  Just when someone says "mental" game, i was automatically not talking about the 15 vs 6 handicapper.  Better mechanics will get you w/e flight or to the gross bracket in the tourney.  But once the field is set, and aside from having the "shanks" that day, mental game may play a substantive role.

 

28 minutes ago, jsgolfer said:

E.g. If you and I are similar handicaps, you may be better under pressure than me and it might mean you beat me sometimes but probably not every time. 

Over ~10 years for me and my golfing buddies, i can say that this is absolutely not true.  We have at least three guys in our group whose win rates vary wildly and consistently in weekend games vs "big $$" games. One guy is the below-average golfer usually, but for $$$ he seems to never pick up a penalty or 3 putt and 80% of the time he "outperforms".  The other two always perform horrifically on those big days. This is over hundreds and hundreds of regular rounds, and ~25 "big" games. There's one guy who I honestly think has never come out cash positive in any "big" game... ever.  But his index is about the same as all of ours.

Edited by bones75

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7 minutes 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.

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.  

13 minutes ago, bones75 said:

For sure you are correct.  Just when someone says "mental" game, i was automatically not talking about the 15 vs 6 handicapper.  Better mechanics will get you w/e flight or to the gross bracket in the tourney.  But once the field is set, and aside from having the "shanks" that day, mental game may play a substantive role.

 

For me and my golfing buddies, i can say that this is absolutely not true.  We have at least three guys in our group whose win rates vary wildly and consistently in weekend games vs "big $$" games. One guy is the below-average golfer usually, but for $$$ he seems to never pick up a penalty or 3 putt and 80% of the time he "outperforms".  The other two always perform horrifically on those big days. This is over hundreds and hundreds of regular rounds, and ~25 "big" games. There's one guy who I honestly think has never come out cash positive in any "big" game... ever.  But his index is about the same as all of ours.

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. 

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21 minutes ago, jsgolfer said:

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 hear ya, I still don't think i disagree.  You're not even in the game if you don't have enough of a swing that day. And my friend isn't a vanity capper, but I know exactly the type of person you're talking about... he's an aforementioned, and self acknowledged "head case".  He plays fine in our regular $2 nassau's, and none of us consider him vanity capping or sandbagging.

Didn't Charles Barkley used to have a non-hitched swing and play to like a 10?. I wonder if there would be any consensus on whether his is a "mental" or a physical thing?  I've heard even today he can swing fluidly when he's off camera.

Edited by bones75

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5 minutes ago, bones75 said:

I hear ya, I still don't think i disagree.  You're not even in the game if you don't have enough of a swing that day. And my friend isn't a vanity capper... he's an aforementioned, and self acknowledged "head case".  He plays fine in our regular $2 nassau's, and none of us consider him vanity capping or sandbagging.

Didn't Charles Barkley used to have a non-hitched swing and play to like a 10?. I wonder if there would be any consensus on whether his is a "mental" or a physical thing?  I've heard even today he can swing fluidly when he's off camera.

I've played with several head cases but they were always really good players. In fact one of our previous club champs is a head case and when he's on, he's as good as anyone and when he's not he can stink it up, as much as a scratch golfer can stink it up, which is still better then just about everyone at the club.

not sure about sir Charles.

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Moe Norman. He’s what differentiates ‘playing golf’ as mental vs physical compared to ‘ability to hit a golf ball well.’

Moe obviously had the physical skill to acquire good ball striking. But it was apparent that Moe didn’t have the mental ability to play professional golf. It may be true that he simply didn’t want to. Either way I suspect it was purely a mental reason why Moe wasn’t a successful touring golf pro. 

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12 hours ago, saevel25 said:

Because the course isn't the practice area.

As another poster mentioned, the ball doesn't care where it is.  Only the mind does.  I will hit bad shots on the course that I almost never hit on the driving range.  I can hit beautiful fades at will on the driving range but can't be loose enough on the course to do it consistently.  (Might have something to do with driving range balls too, which curve easier.) 

Obviously we care very much about where we hit the ball so it is impossible to take the mind out of your swing.   And if you do take the mind out of it, you do so with the mind. 

7 hours ago, BallMarker said:

Both.

But, the more skilled you become, the more mental the game becomes.

This seems close to the truth to me.  When you start playing you are wrestling with the physical side of just learning what "to do".   After you've got that ingrained, it becomes more "how".  Physical effort more often than not gets in the way of a good swing.  After you've hit a few hundred thousand balls and reached a certain level, it's almost all mental. 

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3 hours ago, iacas said:

That's not something I regard as "mental."

I mean, if you want to include "isn't flatlining on an EEG" as "mental" then golf is very mental. If you want to say "your brain tells your body what to do," then golf is very mental.

I'm glad we got that settled. ;-)

I take "mental" to mean dealing with stresses or nerves or whatever.

Not making simple decisions.

Seriously, think about it… someone else could make the decisions for you and tell you where to aim a shot or whatever.

I take it to mean so much more than that. 

Course management is all mental.  How you practice and approach your continuing improvement is part of it too.  Controlling your tempo in your swing and distance on long putts is mental.  Why do we even have to practice?  So our minds can teach our bodies what to do.  

But that isn't what I was after in this thread.  I was looking for different ways people use their brains to optimize their results on the course.  Maybe I should've started a thread on that instead of this chicken and egg debate.

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10 hours ago, alfriday said:

In any case, an instructor who ignores the student's thoughts is short changing the student by focusing only on the physical.  There's an old saying, if the only tool you have is a hammer, everything begins to look like a nail.  If the instructor only deals with physical swing changes, every problem looks like a physical problem.  

On the course, which is more important, the physical or the mental?  I don't know, but it is important that the mental image/goal/focus aids the physical side instead of fighting against it.  

This.  Over the years we've heard so much about golf and sports being mental but where are the great tips and instruction on the mental side of the game?  I've read some books on the subject but so far not by anyone who sounded like they actually played golf. 

Here's one mental thing that I've done to help my game, imo:   While getting into my address position I look long at my target, glance at the ball to get feet and ball position aligned.  One more good look at the target and when I look back to the ball I begin my swing almost immediately.  This keeps tension from creeping into my muscles by staying too long at address thinking about too many things.  It also seems to help me stay more alert during the swing, rather than getting all tense and just hitting a start/panic button. 

To me, this is part of the mental game and is one way the mind can make a huge difference in shot result.

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2 hours ago, bones75 said:

I hear ya, I still don't think i disagree.  You're not even in the game if you don't have enough of a swing that day. And my friend isn't a vanity capper, but I know exactly the type of person you're talking about... he's an aforementioned, and self acknowledged "head case".  He plays fine in our regular $2 nassau's, and none of us consider him vanity capping or sandbagging.

Didn't Charles Barkley used to have a non-hitched swing and play to like a 10?. I wonder if there would be any consensus on whether his is a "mental" or a physical thing?  I've heard even today he can swing fluidly when he's off camera.

I've never actually met a golfer who swings differently when under pressure, that is, if he can swing to his handicap at all?

Golf starts with a good swing, without that you've got no game.

 

52 minutes ago, Runnin said:

As another poster mentioned, the ball doesn't care where it is.  Only the mind does.  I will hit bad shots on the course that I almost never hit on the driving range.  I can hit beautiful fades at will on the driving range but can't be loose enough on the course to do it consistently.  (Might have something to do with driving range balls too, which curve easier.) 

Yes, but the player is dialing things in at a range. On the course everything is much harder because you only hit any club once per 10 to 15 minutes or something like that.

 

52 minutes ago, Runnin said:

Obviously we care very much about where we hit the ball so it is impossible to take the mind out of your swing.   And if you do take the mind out of it, you do so with the mind. 

There's no mental aspect when you have a chance to hit ball after ball successively from the shortest club to the longest one. On the range you're dialed in. That's why many people hit well on the range and not so well on the course.

 

52 minutes ago, Runnin said:

This seems close to the truth to me.  When you start playing you are wrestling with the physical side of just learning what "to do".   After you've got that ingrained, it becomes more "how".  Physical effort more often than not gets in the way of a good swing.  After you've hit a few hundred thousand balls and reached a certain level, it's almost all mental. 

If you do this with a proper swing, then I'd imagine yes. You'd have a good swing.

That good swing in turn will give you more confidence than any sort of motivational speech.

 

6 minutes ago, Runnin said:

Here's one mental thing that I've done to help my game, imo:   While getting into my address position I look long at my target, glance at the ball to get feet and ball position aligned.  One more good look at the target and when I look back to the ball I begin my swing almost immediately.  This keeps tension from creeping into my muscles by staying too long at address thinking about too many things.  It also seems to help me stay more alert during the swing, rather than getting all tense and just hitting a start/panic button. 

To me, this is part of the mental game and is one way the mind can make a huge difference in shot result.

I've never been able to will the ball to go where I want it to, and don't know anyone who can do that without the physical training required to develop a decent swing.

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1 hour ago, Lihu said:

I've never actually met a golfer who swings differently when under pressure, that is, if he can swing to his handicap at all?

Golf starts with a good swing, without that you've got no game.

It's weird, I'm really starting to doubt my own perception of things. i think every golfer in my group can swing differently (and slightly more often worse) under pressure. Amongst the 16-20 of us (and i think it's relevant we all have collegiate athletic experience and all within 4 years of age), these type of things seem prevalent to me:

- 2 footers for $100 don't drop as often as 2 footers for nothing.
- hard-6 vs easy-5 skews more towards the hard-6 during pressure holes/rounds
- there are both more birdies as well more bogey+'s and penalties on "big" days vs a weekend outing (and we play stroke play only)
- and i actually believe all of us, "generally" score worse on "big" days (say looking over at least a year period).  Me for example, I generally play well on "big" days, but my worst rounds of the last 10 years I know for a fact also correlates to "big" rounds, even if it doesn't happen very often.

And for certain guys, it consistently works out bad for them, and vice versa.

Edited by bones75

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I would say it's more physical than mental. Though the latter definitely is a part of it. I've seen many times golfers getting too much in their mind and playing horrible. Of course you still need to learn how to swing properly, just mental strength definitely isn't enough to play well. 

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Revealing thread, there are varying "definitions" of what's mental and what's physical. I would have called game planning, green reading and just practicing effectively mental, along with just maintaining composure/managing pressure/stress. What's the essential difference between someone who just mindlessly bashes ball after ball at the range vs someone who practices with purpose?

"The way I look at it in golf is that the mental game is a mechanism for fulfilling physical potential. Physical potential being a function of natural ability and effort put in through practice, instruction, conditioning, etc. Physical potential won’t automatically be transferred to the golf course in the form of performance. That is where a strong mental game steps in and allows the body to perform the tasks it has already been trained to do.

In other words, the mental game bridges physical potential and physical performance. When faced with consequence on the golf course, the physical motion the body already knows how to perform can be hindered by doubt, fear, and anxiety. Our mind and body know how to physically execute the shot, and the mental game is required to protect that ability by warding off the potential doubt, fear or anxiety."

Edited by Midpack

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7 hours ago, jsgolfer said:

Except you need no composure to hit a golf ball. 

When I play, except on weekends, I walk from the car to the tee and hit the ball. I'm not composed at all, barely taking a practice swing and hit the ball pretty well, has nothing to do with my mental state. 

I agree.... my mechanics are to blame much more than my composure, as is the case with the majority of us. 

If you read my comment in context of the previous comments, you'll see I wasn't claiming composure>physical at all. 

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