It’s All In Your Mind: Leave Your Physical Golf Skills in the Bag

The traditional model for learning golf and improving your game has typically focused on your swing and short game techniques. Golf professionals and the equipment have relentlessly told us that to idealize a great swing and that the right equipment is a must in order to play better. Video and fast cameras capture our movements and analyze them in infinite detail. We work endlessly to perfect our swing. We buy the latest technology.

But what about our conscious and sub-conscious awareness? How many teaching professionals do you know that focus primarily on the mental aspects of the game.

An awareness of the mental aspects of the Game of Golf is the key to consistency and better performance. Focus more on your thinking ability and less on your perceived physical deficiencies and you will progress faster and in the long run with much greater skill. The Gorilla guarantees it.

Are you dissatisfied with poor performance? It’s not your fault! The only thing you’ve done wrong is to follow standard, typical coaching advice to practice hard and improve by “swinging like this”.

Typically, a pro will start you with a seven iron, then after a while teach you to use the driver. Then work on the driving range wih a variety of clubs. Then there’s the sand and the short game. Then putting. Maybe along the way, the pro will give some lip service to shot visualization and a relaxed attitude. Then there is the mantra of practice, practice, practice.

Sorry, we believe that approach and ones similar to it are completely off base.

There are enlightened professionals and coaches out there. The problem is that a Left-Brained, bases on facts and not on instinct will twist your game and make it less consistent – exactly the opposite of what we golfers are trying to achieve. Our position is that an instinctive approach to the game will lead to more satisfying results.

Here are some of the key performance problems in golf that a strong mental game solves:

Are you, like the majority of us, overly sensitive to the judgment of others?

Your personality and experience, as well as your pride are key arousal factors, which can affect your performance. Comments – some helpful, some hurtful from your playing partners are especially distracting and take on exaggerated importance.

Based on our research, there is an optimum level of stimulation for the long game and a lower level for your short game. When you exceed those levels your physical skills tend to decline. You become distracted. Your swing will change. Your touch and feel will not be as good. Your mind will be busier. Your decision-making will not be as good and you will second guess those decisions. Your focus will decline. Your intuition will not work as well as normal. Frustration will start to creep in.

In addition, you will be more emotionally reactive than normal. If you are naturally dominant, then you will get more aggressive. If you are naturally submissive you will get more defensive.

As arousal increases the more obvious these changes are.

A less obvious problem is that as we become only slightly frustrated and aroused, the problems become subtler, less clearly noticeable. Putts are mis-read. Your ball striking may be off a bit, and you cannot put your finger on the reason why. It’s because your mental game has been ignored.

What does optimum arousal feels like? Not knowing why your game is off leaves you guessing and trying to fix something – something in your swing or technique. It certainly reduces your confidence, and again, undermines your secret weapon – the strength of your mental game.

After the round or the tournament, you go back to the practice range. Your swing is fine; your ball striking often works, you’re sinking the five-foot putts every time.

The result is threefold:

  1. The good performance on the range after (or before) the game drives (!) you crazy.
  2. The next time you go out to play, it starts out great for three of four holes and then things start to fall apart.
  3. You become frustrated because you don’t know what to work on or why it is happening.

Gorilla Golf is committed to improving your game. We will help you enjoy this great game by making it more relaxing and fun. Follow this space over the next several weeks and you will see what we mean..

Watch for the continuing series on Next installment: The Left Brain – Wrong-minded

We welcome your comments.

Image by Monta Elkins
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Terry Crick February 11, 2011

Tom I couldn’t agree more with some of the points you’ve brought up. First and foremost you need to get to know your student before you help them, an engineer processes information much differently than a insurance salesman not that either one is bad but it is surely different. What are their goals and do they have any physical limitations? Sometimes I spend 20 to 30 minutes talking to my students before we ever hit a golf ball, I need to find out how their brains work before I can truly help them. How many times have I heard ‘I can hit it so well on the range and then I get to the first tee.”


Terry Crick PGA Teaching Professional February 11, 2011

“The mediocre teacher tells. The good teacher explains. The superior teacher demonstrates. The great teacher inspires.”

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