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Develop A World-class Mental Golf Game:

Develop a world-class mental golf game
Joan A. King, C.Ht., P.NLP

What can a recreational golfer do to improve his/her golf game?

The obvious answer includes taking lessons, practicing, using the proper equipment and playing more than once a week. The average recreational golfer's game hasn't improved much in the last ten years despite the new technology and advanced teaching methods.

What is missing? The missing ingredient is mental preparation. Golfers don't believe that they need mental instruction even though they repeatedly mention that golf is a "mental game" when they make a mistake.

It may take years to develop a sound golf swing, and to understand your on-course personality in relation to course management, but it is possible for a person to learn a mental attitude about the game which will produce the maximum results from his/her own capability.

The golf swing is a very complicated maneuver using many different muscle groups, at times moving in opposing directions. World-class golfers know that this complex movement cannot be controlled by conscious thought. Peak performance is obtained when they trust their subconscious mind to swing the golf club automatically.

If there is a secret to golf, it is using your two minds in the proper sequence. To determine the yardage, strength of the wind, landing area, and which club to use are all functions of the problem solving, analytical conscious mind. Swinging the club easily and effortlessly is the result of relaxing that thinking mind, and moving into the subconscious which controls all of your bodily functions automatically.

To play well, here are 10 tips you need to be aware of to improve your mental preparation for moving into the subconscious mind:

  • Be absolutely certain about which club you are going use.
  • Be absolutely certain about the shot you are going to hit with that club.
  • Begin to prepare your mind by visualizing/imagining/feeling the trajectory of the shot.
  • Connect with your target by seeing/imagining the ball going there. If you are a "feel" player, take practice swings to access your feel.
  • Trust that this information is being relayed to your muscles.
  • Breathe deeply to relax your mind and body.
  • Use the exact same preshot routine with every shot for consistent results.
  • Use an intermediate target to correctly align your body with the target.
  • Focus your eyes on the ball throughout the entire swing.
  • Enjoy swinging the club!
To play at your peak performance level requires that your conscious thinking mind and your automatic subconscious minds are in agreement. If you are telling yourself how difficult the shot is, and then expect an easy, smooth, effortless swing, your two minds are not in sync. The emotionally stronger message will determine the outcome.

The next time you go to the golf course, here are 10 more mental tips to practice for lowering your scores:

  • Whatever you are trying to do, don't. Trying means steering the ball to the target. Make up your mind to swing to your target and just do it!
  • Don't give yourself instruction. Instead of focusing your attention on a specific part of your body or part of the golf swing, go beyond the physical and find your own rhythm and tempo. After a missed shot, swing the club several times until you can once again access your tempo.
  • Indecision is the enemy of golfers. Don't hit a shot until you have absolutely made up your mind about what you want to do with the shot.
  • Believe in yourself no matter what the results are. Believe in your ability to play well. Trust that you can improve.
  • Emotionalize only the good shots. Enjoy every successful shot. Emotions of fear, doubt, anger and anxiety will sabotage your game. Be positive in talking to yourself and others.
  • Less is more. Swing within yourself. Feel your awareness of balance, rhythm and tempo. The ball will go further and straighter with a smooth, easy, effortless swing than with a forceful, jerky swing.
  • Golf requires a balanced emotional level. Leave all problems at home. Keep your conversation on a superficial level. Breathe deeply before every shot to relax your mind and body.
  • Give each shot your full attention as if it is the most important shot you will hit in the round. Stay in the NOW. Be fully present. Play one shot at a time.
  • Let go of all expectations. Don't add up your score until you are finished. Enjoy each shot as its own reward.
  • Enjoy all aspects of the golf course. Play from your heart and have fun playing the game.
Joan King is the founder and President of POSITIVE MENTAL IMAGERY, a mental sports consulting service dedicated to helping golfers achieve their peak performances. She can be contacted at 828-696-2547 or via email, pmi4@att.net. Her Website is www.pmi4.com.

Florida FAIRWAYS, Defining the Southern Golf Lifestyle, the Treasure Coast/Palm Beach Edition, Fall 2002


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