I remember the days when I would get so angry with myself when I would miss a shot or an easy putt. I would just be fuming inside and obviously could not play my best on the next shot in that state. I wanted so badly to do well on the scorecard and beat my buddies. When I did, the satisfaction was tremendous. Ooops, there I go again, using another “feeling” word – satisfaction.
Being able to bounce back from mistakes…and we all know golf is a game of mistakes…is crucial to your scoring. It’s at the heart of Tiger’s mental toughness. We’ve all seen him in trouble after a bad shot and then he somehow comes out of it and puts himself back in a great position.
The standard advice given out there these days is that you: 1. Make a mistake 2. Go back to your instructor or swing program to identify the error. 3. Hit a zillion golf balls on the range to ingrain the countermove to cure that swing error.
You might have already tried that and found that it’s like herding cats because every time you fix one problem, another one comes up. That’s because you’ve related the effect to a false cause.
If you’ve been with me for any amount of time, you know that I’m not going to be writing here, that to solve your golf problems, you just need to spend more time practicing and beating balls. And I’m not going to disappoint you with this article either. Rather, I’m going to talk about why that REALLY happens to you and what to do about them.
Let’s get down to what I believe is the REAL cause of most of your inconsistency troubles and here it is:
Why do you think all the golf psychologists tell you to Focus on the present and the process? Does that advice work? Yes, absolutely. But it misses the mark. What focusing on the process does for you is it “Distracts” you away from MEANING. It’s just a good workaround for the true cause. It’s a heck of a lot harder to teach someone how to Focus than what you’ll learn below…especially for highly sensitive people. Keep reading…
As usual, I come from a different place than most golf teachers and yes, this is leading somewhere…that just might be profound for you.
You see, we get negative or difficult emotions like FEAR and DOUBT on the course and everywhere because of the MEANING our unconscious mind is currently assigning to the situation at hand. When that turns into a FEELING in your body, it messes up your swing or putting stroke.
For example, in the past, when I missed a 3 footer with my buddies, my unconscious mind assigned a MEANING to that event that “I choke under pressure” and/or “I’ll never get good at this game” or something like those. How did that happen? Well, it starts with the first time you ever played golf or maybe even another type of competition when you were younger. That MEANING gets reinforced over time because our mind always seeks to affirm what it already knows.
When you are a child and these things happen, the MEANING you give to yourself the first time tends to sink swiftly and deeply into your unconscious mind because you have little to no filter or perspective about the event. The gateway to your unconscious mind is wide open.
Every time you choke under pressure from then on, the MEANING is recalled for that type of event and then the unconscious mind releases a chemical that creates the difficult emotion.That molecule of emotion, called a peptide, is a messenger to the cells in your body telling them to do something…that something is a FEELING.
The FEELING is something like: “the shakes” or “nervousness” or other types of tension. Your reptilian mind starts to kick into gear at this time and actually hampers your ability to think correctly. All it’s thinking is survival. Your fine motor muscle movements are now not working so well because it’s the big muscles that need to work in survival mode and take over.
You already know how the most subtle changes and adjustments in a swing or a putt can drastically change the direction or distance on a stroke right? It takes so little to throw off your swing or cause a slight twist of your club or putterhead.
Golf isn’t a game of inches, it’s a game of millimeters or even smaller when it comes down to you…the player.
You’ve been taught that the cause is something labelled: “mechanical.” In some situations, that could be correct but for the vast majority of problems with golfers who already know the fundamentals and have hit great shots before, the real cause is the MEANINGs that we give to everything that ever happens to us. Those MEANINGS then trigger emotions.
“But Craig,” you might say, “I don’t FEEL bad before I miss those shots.”
I know, I get it. It’s not always something dramatic that you feel that knocks you off your game. Many times, it’s very subtle. It can be simply injecting interference into your process. It’s like a radio signal getting jammed and coming to you as static noise. What happens is that the unconscious mind does not get a clear message of what you want to have happen (can also be called lack of focus) or your conscious mind tries to take over the swing, can you say “STEERING” (which is like trying to ride a bike with your conscious mind directing your muscles).
Either way, when we dig and dig for the root cause, as I have done in my work with my golfers, you will find that it always comes down to MEANING that is stored at the unconscious level….and it may not have anything to do with golf whatsoever!
Ok then. What do we do about it? How do we fix that? I thought you’d never ask because you know that I don’t just give you the WHY and WHAT, I always give you the HOW because I personally need both to make changes in my game and elsewhere so I just figure that you do too.
Here’s what to do:
The next time you make an error or mistake on the course…(or even off the course), you want to immediately stop and ask yourself:
“What is it that I want right now” come up with a good answer that includes WHY you want to do that.
“What MEANING can I come up with for this mistake that will help me get what I want?”
“What is some proof or evidence that this MEANING I’ve given myself is true?
You want to do this when you are at the peak of your difficult emotions about the mistake. Why? Because when you are in any EMOTION, the gateway to your unconscious mind is open. This new MEANING has a very good chance of replacing the old meaning at the unconscious level. That’s where this whole process is regulated and where the change must occur.
In order to have new MEANINGs become permanent, and result in new feelings like: “I just feel like I can do anything out here,” you have to get this into your unconscious programming.
The quickest, most efficient way to do that is through Hypnosis or other unconscious communication techniques. You won’t have to wait for your screwups in order to take advantage of the open gateway of high emotion.
You can certainly do this in your normal awake state as well and I would encourage you to do this kind of mental work off the course so that you automatically do it when on the course.
I find it interesting that serious golfers know that they have to practice their game to get better…and I’m all for that. But they don’t do the mental practice that it takes in order to allow all of that hard work to show itself in competition or under pressure.
If you’ve read this far, I’m thinking you’re not one of those golfers or are you?
Greens and fairways,
To learn how to do self hypnosis, go to:
To get useful MEANINGS into your unconscious mind and
delete the old ones, go to: