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  1. There is this one hole on my home course. It is a short par 4 with a tree-lined 90 degree dogleg left. The actual distance from the tee to the hole is about 230 yards, but you can't actually go for it due to the trees and then the water on the other side of them. Just, no. The proper way to play the hole is two 9-irons or something like that. It's really quite easy to par this hole. The first time I took my nephew there, he could not resist the temptation. He went for it, somehow lifted the ball barely over the trees and landed his tee stroke on the green. The next bunch of times we played the course, he went for this shot again, always failing miserably. So he would get a 6 or 7 on what is certainly the easiest par 4 on the course, until he finally figured it out. Thing is, I have done this too. Not as obviously. But I tend to remember that time I nutted the 3-wood and cleared the bunker to be on in 2 or when I punched through the trees to roll it up onto the green. I think the worst thing that can happen to me is to succeed at a low percentage shot the first time I play a course. I even find myself trying to recruit cart-mates to be my caddie with requests like "remind me that I'm stupid if you see this club in my hand for the second shot" or "don't ever let me do that again", like a drunk pleading with the bartender. Calmly typing here, I can see perfectly well the hindsight that informs me that, no, I did not have command of that shot. But at the time, it really does seem reasonable. Someone please chime in with a similar story or advice or something. I think I need a digital shoulder to cry on.
  2. In the other topic (now locked), the question was posed: is golf more mental or more physical. I think it's safe to say that if you throw away the "well, the brain controls everything you do, so it's 100% mental" side of the argument, it's pretty clear that your physical skills affect your score the most: Dustin Johnson on his worst mental day will basically always beat a 20-handicapper having the worst mental game day of his life. Golf, like every other sport, is ultimately a measurement of how well you perform, and the bulk of that performance is physical. Things got contested when we branched out from that original question to begin to discuss how much the mental game plays a role. I'm on record as saying it's pretty small: Dustin Johnson is going to shoot a pretty narrow range of scores if you normalize his physical performance somewhat, and a bogey golfer isn't going to break par on a PGA Tour course any time soon… his scores are also typically 85-100 owing, mostly, to variations in physical performance that day (as well as the mental game and, well, a little bit of luck good or bad). So, the purpose of this topic is two-fold: To discuss just how much the mental game affects golfers generally, as well as individually (please be clear about this distinction when you're posting). To discuss methods and means of improving your mental game. I'm not a psychologist. I have also always had a pretty good mental game - I enjoy pressure, feel I perform well under it, and have the ability to put golf in its place - it's just a game, and doesn't change at all how much my family loves me, how beautiful a sunset is, or even really how I view myself. I also disagree with Bob Rotella: I can think "don't go in the water to the right" and then not hit it there. I feel he's wrong about your brain not being able to process "do" and "don't" as different (though it may be a matter of semantics: I think "okay, the water right is bad, so miss it left if anything.") So I can't help much with the second part. And I'm on record as saying it's pretty minimal on the first part, as I noted above. If I had to put a number on it, generally speaking, 5% of your performance that day is mental. (And I don't mean as a percentage of strokes, because you can't shoot "0," and the math just doesn't work: a shot you hit slightly fat because you were nervous about the hole location might hit a firm spot in the fairway and bounce up to four feet, while the shot you flush catches a gust of wind you couldn't feel and buries in a bunker.). Individually, of course there are going to be outliers. And, because it's going to be necessary, I'm going to define the mental game as such: Shot selection, game planning, strategy (though this is pretty simple, and even non-golfers can make these decisions), and you can be taught this in 45 minutes and do it almost perfectly for the rest of your life. Ability to focus or "get out of your way." (i.e. some people perform best when they aren't hyper-focused, some do). This can also include visualizing shots, not having too many swing thoughts, etc. Nerves, even though they may manifest as shaking hands, sweaty hands, accelerated heart rates, etc. Things that aren't included: Green reading, feeling the wind, how you're feeling that day, or any of the inputs needed to make a decision. "Desire" to practice or improve the physical components, or anything of this ilk. "The brain controls everything, so it's all mental." The effect swing thoughts have on your swing. I play with one swing thought almost every time I play (at most, two, but never on the same swing) because they lead to a change my physical swing. It's a fine line to draw, but let's try to draw it. Knowledge of the rules of golf or any other tangential, fringe-related things. I reserve the right to add to these lists if someone comes up with something that's pretty clearly not in the mold of what I'm striving to get after here… And yeah, I think that's completely fair. I expect most of the "individual" comments to be about yourself, since none of us can really possibly know what someone else is thinking. Anecdotal, personal evidence is just that, though: a sample size of one, and with a very biased reporter. (This includes me, and maybe I downplay the mental aspect because I have never struggled with it…?) I'm also likely, speaking for my side of things, to hold onto the idea that a lot of the root cause of some mental issues is physical. If you regularly top or thin your 3W, and you face a 218-yard carry over a pond with a quartering wind into you and out of the right, and you proceed to mis-hit your 3W… then the root cause I'd suggest is physical: you don't have the skills to pull that shot off, and so of course you're nervous, anxious, etc. Yes, there's a small component to tricking yourself into being confident, and that can likely slightly improve performance… but you're still gonna hit the ball poorly overall compared to someone who is much better physically. I said in the other topic that people will often lie to themselves, too. I think that quite often, people can have a poor mental game on a shot, but if the shot turns out well, they discard that shot. Only the "bad" ones stick out, and even then, they sometimes place more blame than is actually due on the mental game. Maybe they had the same mental "state" as a previous good shot, but made a slightly different swing and so they blame their mental state in retrospect as a means of protecting their ego (which IMO, for sports, is largely based on the physical). Please: Remember to be clear about whether you're speaking generally or individually. Be civil. This is still just a discussion about a silly sport we all enjoy playing (usually). Attack ideas or opinions all you want. Not people. So long as bullet #2 is still obeyed. Have fun. Update (2018-12-07) - Further updated thoughts here:
  3. Written out and modified slightly for my golf team (with some disclaimers about how I don't buy into this stuff very much): 10 Reasons Why Winners Win Winners are driven by a love of winning, not by a fear of losing. Winners remain relentlessly optimistic at all times. Winners focus on solutions when things go wrong. Winners are fueled by feelings of excitement more than nervousness. Winners know confidence comes from preparation. Winners surround themselves with like-minded positive people. Winners expect to win each time they compete. Winners slow down the game in their mind and think clearly. Winners focus more precisely as the game gets bigger. Winners make losing not an option - they either win or they learn. © Dr. Jarrod Spencer, 2019, Mind of the Athlete, LLC. Here's the problem I have with a few of these… I've heard the opposite from some people, some psychologists, and some very successful people, too. Ha! Bull. Sometimes that's true. Other times it's not. Tiger said he was super nervous all the time, it showed that he cared. Notice how I modified it for my players? Excessive is by definition "wrong" because it means "too much." Not really true, and many can't choose who they're around. Not in golf. And not in other sports either; you'd have to be delusional, especially in team sports. Okay, but… that could just be a skill. I don't think you can try to make the game slow down. Okay? What claptrap is that? Of course losing is an option. It's not a good option, but again, you're delusional. Plus, you can learn from winning, too.
  4. Dehydration Alters Human Brain Shape, Activity and Slackens Task Performance Dehydration alters human brain shape and activity, slackens task performance -- ScienceDaily Sweating up a storm gardening? This is what your brain might be doing: Reasonably customary dehydration led to shape changes inside the brains of test persons in a new study. Neuronal activity... Summary: According to researchers dehydration can lead to more errors on task performance. Additionally, fMRI neuroimaging showed dehydration can alter brain structure temporarily. https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2018/08/180821094153.htm
  5. I suspect I am like many other golfers after a round. We look at the scorecard and begin to analyze our round with a pair of rose-tinted glasses. “If I would have just …” If I could have …” I should have …” It is fun imagining how making better club selections, being more conservative/aggressive and taking a bit more time over that putt would-could-should have resulted in a score several shots better. Perhaps this exercise is why we often over value the “mental game” versus the physical aspects of golf. We assign many bad results to faulty thinking. The truth of the matter is, at least for me, that the thinking and planning is often fine; it is usually the execution that is sorely lacking. A good example was from my round last Saturday. Despite a bad break earlier in the round that resulted in a double, I stood on the 15th tee at level par. I was playing extremely well when one considers that I am an 8-10 handicapper. The 15th has OB all down the left side and the fairway slopes considerably to the left. I told myself to keep it right since the right rough is not a bad place to hit from and then promptly duck hooked my tee shot OB. Naturally, my 3rd shot was long, straight and ended up in the center of the fairway. My plan was fine, I just didn’t execute. Of course, my “analysis” after the round indicated that I should have hit my tee shot on #15 like my second effort, making a 4 instead of a 6. I also missed a handful of 5-10 footers for birdie that could have gone in. Finally, but for a bad bounce on a cart path that put me into the edge of a penalty area, I would not have lost a stroke or two on #6. After all the analytics, if I would have concentrated a bit more, I could have saved several strokes here and there, and I should have shot 69 instead of 74. In truth, I played about as well as I can Saturday. Yes, a few shots escaped me, but I did so many things right. Still, in my dreams I coulda shot 69!
  6. I'm having a mental game expert address some of my juniors next Saturday, and I had some additional notes for him. Stuff I wanted him to include that may be particular to my program, the way I teach, my LSW information, etc. And I thought some of you might benefit. So here's that part of the email: 1. Practice is not playing. I'd like them to know that when they're working on their swing, they care what the mechanics are, they care what things "look" like somewhat, they care about making the best MECHANICS or something, to change or improve. But when they're playing, it's all about the results, not what it looks like. Better mechanics eventually lead to better scores, but sometimes you have to find a swing that works THAT DAY. 2. One or two bad shots is not a pattern. If you duck hook it off the first three tees, then yes, you might want to do something different the next time you get a driver out, but don't rush into changing your entire swing thought or game plan after one or two or even three slightly funny shots, or you'll be changing something after EVERY bad swing, which happens more often than people realize. 3. Have realistic expectations. PGA Tour players: make 50% of their 8-footers and only 15% of their 20-footers. On better greens. Average 2.8 shots from 100 yards out in the fairway. They hit it to about 18' on average. Hit about 60% of their fairways, but almost always keep it "between the ropes." Hit three to four "great shots" per round on a great day. Their standard is higher, but still… they don't love every shot they ever hit. They also hit shanks, chunk chips, etc. You only see the leaders on TV. Get up and down only 2/3 times. Scrambling is tough. But they almost never take two chips or two bunker shots. Then of course, talk about how having proper expectations for yourself will be very personal. Expectations can be for one shot or for the score for 18 holes. 4. Have proper expectations and goals for entering tournaments, but enter them BEFORE you're "ready" for them. You might have a better way of saying this, but basically, we entered Natalie in HJGT events before she was anywhere near competitive for them… so that by the time she was competitive in them (now), she'd know what they were like. It's NEVER a bad thing to play as many events where you have to put your name and a number up on a scoreboard for all to see - it can only be BAD if you have unrealistic expectations about your abilities. Go into competitive golf with the proper mindset - that you're LEARNING how to compete, LEARNING how to deal with it all, how to handle the slow pace of play, playing under the rules, playing with strangers, everything… go in with the proper mindset and it's all about growth, regardless of the outcome.
  7. "Focus on the process. Once you do the part that you can control, you can't care about the result." I've heard this phrase said a few times lately. The intent is to get you to focus all of your energy on the "stuff you can control" and to give up control over the stuff you can't control - everything that happens after you hit the ball, the play of others in the field, whether your ball gets a good bounce or a bad bounce, whether your 20-footer goes in the hole or lips out… that stuff. The stuff that we control only very indirectly, by setting things in motion. Though I've downplayed the mental game in the past (and will continue to do so), and though there's some truth to this saying… A number of people recently have taken it far too literally, and if that's how they take it, I think this saying is one of the biggest loads of crap. If you don't care about the result, why the hell are you playing? Why ever practice if you don't care about the result? Winning doesn't feel good, and losing doesn't feel bad, if you don't care about the result. You should care about the result. Hell, that's the only thing you really should care about, because if you care about the result that's what makes some of the other things - like the "process" - important to achieving a better result more often. This is a short "Swing Thoughts" post, but an important one. If what you're doing isn't going to affect the result… why are you doing it? Why should you care about it? Maybe you shouldn't. Care about the result. Care intensely about the result. Don't let it define you - how well you play golf says almost nothing about you as a human being, a father, a husband, a woman, or whatever. But within the context of golf… care about the result, and the things that lead to better results more often.
  8. Hi everyone Just seing if other people suffer with similar problem as I currently have. Originally coming down from a high handicap had such enjoyment and no worries on the course. Got down to handicap of 8 and have set myself goals for the future. All of a sudden have this expectation to play good golf and getting frustrated as not playing near what I should be playing. look forward to playing all week and my game has gone to crap over last few months and handicap blown out to 14. Taking more time over the shots, really concentrating seems to be having the opposite effect on my game :( My current skill level should be around 6~8 handicap but my mind has got in the way. Without getting a labotomy anyone have any ideas lol?
  9. This topic exists for those of you looking to turn your 76s into 73s because of a mental lapse or two along the way, or for those of you who choke in competitions, or those of you looking to gain just a bit more of the small edge that a great mental game can provide on top of your physical skills. I probably won't have much to contribute to this topic. I feel I play better under pressure. I don't even get too nervous. But, since nobody took this ball and ran with it in the other topic, here's a topic specifically about improving your mental game, so that the 5% or whatever it contributes to your performance is not so often in the negative direction, and can be applied positively. Even if you're an extreme outlier with the yips or something, this topic/discussion is for you.
  10. There is a lot of discussions on here about the impact of the mental game. Opinions range from it being the most important thing about golf to it having no importance whatsoever. Bobby Jones said, “Competitive golf is played mainly on a five-and-a-half-inch course... the space between your ears.” Ben Crenshaw said, “I'm about five inches from being an outstanding golfer. That's the distance my left ear is from my right.” The movie Tin Cup is primarily about a psychologist who helps a driving range pro get his head straight to compete in the US Open. He does until he blows up at the end. There are numerous books about the mental game that promise to have you shooting better scores and many people swear by them. All of this seems like compelling evidence that working on your mental game can help you shoot lower scores, but can it? Golf is a strange game. It costs you 2 strokes to advance the ball 350 yards onto a small patch of closely cut grass where it costs you another 2 to advance the ball another 30 feet doing this thing called “putting”. It seems an odd scoring system where a 3’ shot costs the same as a 280 yard shot. There are boundaries and hazards placed throughout the course that can cost you additional strokes, as well as other potential rules infractions like causing your ball to move. It’s quite mind boggling and takes near perfection to regularly score par. Even a novice player can occasionally attain a score of par which undoubtedly will plant a seed in their mind that they are getting better at the game, but reality often sinks in very soon. Aside from playing the game of golf, you have practice sessions where you learn how to swing the club and hit the ball. There are different clubs with varying lofts and shaft lengths designed to make the ball go higher or lower and different lengths. Then you have a flat putter that is designed to make the ball roll across the ground on the green and into the hole. It’s possible that the ball will go into the hole from off the green, but that is a rare occurrence even for the most accomplished players. Conventional wisdom has taught us that putting is the most important skill to scoring since you use your putter on a majority of shots assuming that you reach the green in regulation. Harvey Penick used to say that the driver was the most important club because a good drive builds confidence. I tend to think that they are all important, but there is a lot of conflicting information out there. Given that playing golf is a physical activity of swinging a club whether it’s a driver, wedge, or putter, how could anyone possibly think that your mind plays a significant role in moving the ball? Unless someone is telekinetic, their mind does nothing to move the ball, and the game is all about moving the ball closer to the hole. I played with a guy a month or so ago who kept saying out loud, “You suck!” before almost every shot. Dr. Bob Rotella is a proponent of the mental game who insists that playing with confidence is key to scoring to the best of your physical ability. Although that guy’s assessment of his swing was correct, he certainly wasn’t doing himself any favors with the constant reminders. The bottom line is that a bad swing full of compensations will produce inconsistent results, and no level of confidence will improve your swing. That takes education, preferably by a good instructor and dedicated practice. So again, why is the “mental game” such a big topic in golf? I have read several books on managing the mental game. Even Dr. Rotella says that a player cannot become a winner simply by changing their thinking. Here is the way I look at this subject. Your physical ability to swing a club sets your potential score. Having a solid mental game cannot improve your potential, but it can help you shoot closer to it on a more consistent basis. One of the main benefits of a sound mental game is the reduction of tension. If I am not hitting the ball well, it is usually because I am tensed up for some reason. There are all sorts of things that can create tension whether it’s dealing with tough situations in life or perhaps a stressful situation on the course like hitting into an island green. Learning how to control your emotions on the course will not guarantee that you hit that green, but it will help you hit it more often. It will also help you deal with the situation better if you fail. How many times have you seen someone miss a tough shot like this and throw a tantrum? All too often I’m afraid. One of the key aspects of a sound mental game is focusing on the shot at hand and not the result. Whether you are facing a bogey or a birdie putt, each stroke counts as one. My best scores have happened when I played in a calm state where I didn’t have a care in the world. If only I could bottle that and sell it.
  11. Alright guys, I'm sure this question has been asked before and I apologize if it has. The famous saying "best range player in the club" is the name of my game. On the range I'm a +3 handicap. In reality I'm an 8.4 and trending higher bc of this big problem. I can't bring my range swing to the course. Im going through a swing change to get rid of the over the top pull and I can exicute it perfect on the range (this has been going on for about 3 months). As soon as I get to the course I go back to that over the top swing that I'm oh so terribly comfortable with. I'm not looking for tips on my swing but some mental tips so I can transfer that swing to the course. I usually have about 2 swing thoughts when I play, usually a backswing and a downswing thought. It seems like the harder I try the worse it gets (I shot 93 today) and I'm on the verge of taking a hiatus from the game for a while. I appreciate any advice or wisdom that can be shared. Thanks Tommy
  12. I need some mental coaching...OK, OK...my friends would say "So what's new?" Here's my issue. My practice swing is full, smooth, and gives a powerful swoosh. Put a ball in front of me and my full swing turns into a short, quick, jerky movement. Over the past two years I have lost about 30 yards on my drives. My greens in regulation on par 4's are about zip. If it wasn't for the fact that I have a solid short game, I couldn't break 90 whereas before I was knocking on 80 regularly. It only effects my driver and fairway woods swing. My research says that I have a 'hit impulse' not 'full swing yips' as in Charles Barkley yips. I still shoot mid-80s but it is frustrating to give up so much distance off the tee. I have tried dropping my practice swing to reduce thinking too much (too many mechanical swing thoughts) and just taking aim and swinging. I have tried humming while swinging through the ball. Now I realize I need some mental coaching to get past this. Just hitting balls on the range doesn't work well but my swing on the range is better than on the course. Yes, I know, added pressure and that is the next part. Put a hazard, lake, trap or long carry in the mix and I am hooped. I might as well just throw the ball in the hazard and move to the drop zone. If you have any tips or know of some mental exercises that might work...I am willing to try. I have looked at the work of Dr. Patrick Cohn and David McKenzie but haven't taken that step yet as their programs are expensive. Maybe later.
  13. Good Morning Golfers, I've been thinking a lot about the mental side of golf these days and have realized there is not nearly enough content available on routine building, head mechanics and analytical vs. creative mental training as it relates to amateur/professional golf and pressure situations. Although golf is a passion of mine, my background is not in golf. My experiences with mental game training and weapon sports are from playing pool. Being a journey man road player for many years, mental training became more and more important as I progressed as a player. For instance, analytical thought and execution during play with regards to stroke mechanics, is a players worst enemy (at least in pool it is). It is impossible to play at a high level while thing about changes in your stroke or even thinking about your stroke period. Thats why a pre-shot routine is so important in getting your head out of the stroke while performing at a top level. Especially in competition, whether it be tournament play or other pressure situations (I.e, gambling)... My question to you is, what would be a beneficial and entertaining show on the mental game of golf? I'm not talking about speaking to mental coaches or sports psychologists (because that shit is boring), but rather speaking with high level tour pro's and mini-tour amateur's about their experiences in pressure situations where mental training, or lack there of, has either saved or killed an opportunity. Also, what could be done to avoid/ exacerbate failures or successes? What mental or physical routines have been used, whether it be eye patterns, visualization, breathing, swing thoughts and mechanical process, to bring ones mind to peak acuity during competition. What media format would be most beneficial to an amateur player or even an advanced mini-tour player when it comes to learning more about the mental side of golf while in an entertaining setting? For instance a Feherty for strictly stories on mental successes or failures in the game of golf. Let me know your thoughts on this! Maybe I'm way to far out in left field but I would find it very beneficial and entertaining to hear from guys like Kevin Na on mental successes and failures and what causes them. Thanks!! Uncle Tony
  14. If you put his mind into the body of a golfer who can't break 100? First try, golfer gets a warm up bucket before the round. Let's say the golfer typically shoots between 105-110, hits 1 green in regulation every couple of rounds, can hit his driver 190 yards off the tee and doesn't have any physical issues or disabilities (other than a bad golf swing). Jack's brain doesn't transfer Jack's swing to the hacker's body. So the question basically comes down to: what would Jack shoot if he only hit it 190 off the tee, missed every green, hit a few OB, hit plenty of fat and thin shots. Inspired by this post from @iacas
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