There is probably no greater example of the mental game of golf than that showed to us by Tiger Woods in overcoming his physical pain to win his 14th major tournament, the U. S. Open. Tiger describing his mental focus said, “All week I got off to such a slow start, and I just kept battling back and battling back.”
In the Monday playoff, Tiger and Rocco Mediate both shot even par 71. After winning with a par on the first sudden death hole Tiger said, “Probably the greatest tournament I’ve ever had.” He added, “I think this is the best just because of all the things I’ve had to deal with.”
Jill McGill is a 12-year LPGA veteran who volunteered to post the scores on the 18th scoreboard at the Open. Watching Tiger up close she remarked, “I never believed mind over matter could move inanimate objects, but I’m thinking that dude could do it.” She added, “I think his autopsy will show some magnetic force inside.”
And not to be forgotten is Rocco Mediate’s superb mental game in taking Tiger to the playoff. Rocco’s fun filled personality produced wonderful golf, finishing regulation play ranked among the top 16 in fairways and greens hit, total putts and birdies. He talked, joked, and smiled his way into the playoff, saying he had nothing to lose, and he played like it on the back nine after being three shots behind after the tenth hole. Rocco said, “I was nervous as a cat, but I handled it. I just hung in there.”
Rocco’s fantasy ended when he drove into a poor lie in the left bunker on #7, the first sudden-death hole, pulled an approach by a grandstand, chipped to 18 feet from the drop area and missed the putt.
The Inner Game of Golf is the mental game of golf. The Outer Game is the physical game which includes the mechanics of the golf swing.
The mental game includes learning the skills to decrease the mental obstacles that keep a player from playing at his/her peak levels. These skills are relaxation and concentration. In order to relax and focus on playing the game, a golfer must overcome self-doubt, fears such as failure & embarrassment, anxiety, a limiting self-image, and negative attitudes and beliefs.
The prime causes of mistakes come from the mind of the golfer. Most mistakes are due to doubt, tension and lack of concentration. The mental hazards created in the mind of a golfer on the course are many of the same pitfalls that he/she encounter in daily life. Unless these weaknesses are changed the golfer will be overcome, frustrated, and his/her game sabotaged.
· Golf demands consistency for low scoring. To be consistent one has to have mental discipline. For example, if the clubhead is traveling at 100 mph and contacts the ball with the face open a degree or two, the ball can be sent off-line dozens of yards. To accomplish a square club face at impact requires the mental discipline of relaxed concentration.
· Golf demands emotional control for consistency. Unlike other sports there is no physical outlet for frustration and the golfer must deal with it before he hits his next shot.
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