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Persistence Pays Off For New Players:

Persistence pays off for new players
by Joan A. King, Sports Hypnotist

Playing golf is a total personal experience.

When you tee off on the first hole, you take your personality, habits, attitudes, and beliefs with you.

Even though your focus is on creating a successful swing, it is the emotional feeling that is created that dictates your success or failure.

There are many varied reasons for taking up the game of golf, but I believe all golfers keep playing for the same reason: It is the emotional charge you get after you hit the first perfect shot that keeps you on the trail of trying to duplicate that great feeling.

A beginner in the game of golf can be overcome by the many challenges that he faces.

First, are the pressures to learn the fundamentals of the swing and then integrate them into a fluid, coordinated swing.

Second, are the personal pressures about how you perceive yourself, your abilities, and your progress.

A new player who consistently tops or misses the ball is probably sabotaging the swing with too many "how to" thoughts that cause tension. Tight muscles will result in a jerky, flawed swing.

Your mind can only focus on one thought at a time. A good analogy would be when you first tried to pat your head and rub your stomach at the same time. To do that, you had to trust one of the motions when you got it started and then focus on the other.

It is important for beginners to learn each of the fundamentals (grip, stance, posture) so well that they become habitual and don't have to think about them when they are over the ball.

Practice makes perfect, but only perfect practice makes perfect. The only place you can practice perfectly is in your imagination. Watch videos of good players so you have a good visual image of the swing and tempo to model.

The tendency of a new golfer is to hit at the ball and try and lift it off the ground. The entire swing motion has to be learned so that the golf ball just gets in the way of the club. Trust that the clubs are designed to get the ball airborne.

Spend enough time just swinging the club without hitting a ball so you can feel the rhythm of the motion and hear the swish of the swing.

Tips For Success

How do you persist when you aren't having the success you want?
  • Look at your motivation.
    Why do you want to play golf? Your desire to play golf has to be great enough to carry you through the ups and downs of the learning process.
  • Remember that humans learn by taking action.
    Experience gives us feedback. Use what works and discard what doesn't.
  • Accept that there is no secret to learning golf quickly.
  • Becoming impatient with your improvement will sabotage your progress. Find a golf professional that you relate to who will help you develop a solid swing. Don't switch from one pro to another as this will impede your progress.
  • Take responsibility for your game.
    To improve, it is necessary to take regular lessons, practice, and work on your mental game.
  • Remember that discipline is remembering what it is you really want.
    Believe in your goal. When you encounter adversity, be disciplined enough to remember your goal to get you back on track. Like life, golf has its good days and bad days. Learn about yourself and your golf game from the "off" days, and enjoy the days when you are successful.
  • When the "wheels come off", release tension build-up by deep abdominal breathing and thinking about something pleasant.
    Use realistic positive affirming statements and empowering images about yourself and what you can accomplish.
  • Remember that the game is played one shot at a time.
    Whether practicing or playing, give every shot the same amount of preparation as if it is the only shot you will hit that day. Reinforce your good shots by "feeling" your success. Learn from your missed shots.
  • Less than one percent of all golfers have played a round of golf in par or better.
    Measuring yourself against par is a set-up for failure. Set your own par for the course, making it your own personal golf course according to your handicap. If you are a beginner, add three strokes to each hole, making that your personal par.
Joan King of Jupiter is the founder and president of Positive Mental Imagery, a mental sports consulting service dedicated to helping golfers achieve their peak performances. Since 1992 she has given workshops and individual consultations to amateur and professional golfers and has produced several self-hypnosis audio tapes and CDs for golf (www.pmi4.com/cart) King can be reached at (561) 747-7276 or by e-mail (info@pmi4.com). For additional information and a free monthly mental golf newsletter, visit the PMI Web site at (www.pmi4.com)

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