Golf-ball-mental golf

Of course, to master the intricacies of self one versus self two and the “da-da-da-da” method of practicing one must go beyond theory. To take W. Timothy Gallwey’s ideas from The Inner Game of Golf seriously we need to discover how his methods of teaching the game and addressing the complex issues that are part of learning the game of golf, actually work. The proof, comes only from case studies of golfers who have adopted his teaching methods and enjoyed tangible personal success as a result.

The first study we’ll look at is that of the author himself.

Case Study I: W. Timothy Gallwey

As well as being the author of the book, Gallwey tells the story of his own golfing journey. After explaining his frustrations from being a noted tennis player and his inability to transfer his skills from that discipline into golf, he explains how he used the methods with which he learned his tennis skills to teach himself golf.


Gallwey’s set himself the challenge to go from being a golfer who shot over 100 each round, to breaking 80 by the time he finished the book and he would achieve this only by using the techniques illustrated in The Inner Game of Golf book.

Six months after playing as a typical 28 handicapper, the author achieved scores of between 86 and 90 on what he termed courses of average difficulty. By focusing on specific techniques he developed, the author managed to shoot a front and back nine of 39 and 39, for a total round of 78 at Perfect Liberty golf course, just prior to the manuscript being submitted to the publisher.

Mental golf frustration


Case Study II: The Inner Golf clinic

Although not an individual, this story is a great lesson in how a small change in how you mentally approach the game can have an immediate impact on your game. At an Inner Golf clinic the author walked down the range and asked each golfer what they were working on with their swing. He received a variety of different answers, including:

“I’m trying to keep from slicing.”

“I’m trying to make sure I follow through.”

“I’m trying to swing from inside out.”

To each person, the author gave the same simple instruction. “Whatever you’re trying to do, don’t. Don’t try to do it and don’t try not to do it. Simply don’t try at all and see what happens.”

The end result was that each person on the range improved.

Indeed as the author points out “The less a golfer tries, the more fluid his swing will be and the easier it is for Self 2 to achieve the optimum coordination and timing that produces the true golf swing.”

Case Study III: Al Geiberger

As a professional, Al Geiberger is one of the few pros to shoot below 60, hitting a memorable 59 at the Colonial Country Club in Memphis Tennessee. The experienced professional already had an interest in the mental side of the game from his experiences on tour. He realised that when he was talked while putting (normally considered a distraction), he would actually achieve better results than when he was silent and ‘concentrating’.

He used techniques designed to remove the pressure and need to get a result by sinking the putt and rather focused on understanding the feel of each putt, Geiberger noted a marked improvement in both his ability to innately understand where his putt was going and as a result, his accuracy with the putter in his hand.

Furthermore, Geiberger also noted improvement using his irons too and then used the techniques to teach the author how to eradicate a fundamental flaw in his own golf swing.


One of the most refreshing aspects of The Inner Game of Golf is that the book is littered with anecdotes from golfers of all abilities who learn a new way to play the game. It is clear, from the prodigious amount of work it took to develop the Inner Game, that his system works.

The implications for the golfer are profound. In essence, the book is a tool kit to help one win the inner battle that rages in the mind when playing a round of golf. It equips you with technical understanding and simple to follow drills that will allow you to hone the method both on the range and out on the course.

More important however, the book provides the blue print for the right attitude to have to golf. This final quotation will ring true for many golfers out there who struggle with a ‘problem’ in their game.

“The problem seems to be more that you thought there was a problem. Most of our problems come from trying to correct problems and when we stop trying to correct them and just pay attention to the club head, the body makes its own corrections.”

In essence, to win the Inner Game, listen less to what your mind is telling you, and more to the biofeedback your body is giving you.

(Sources: The Inner Game of Golf, by W.Timothy Gallwey originally published in 1981, revised 1998, Random House publishing)


Images by Gorilla Golf Blog©, iStock Photo

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