I am going to assume for purposes of this article that you want to know how to do it off the tee and with your driver because, let’s face it, if you want to hit the ball longer with anything less than your driver, you simply just pick the next longer club and you’re done.
Having said all that, I do know that there are golfers who want to keep up appearances with their choice of iron for a particular yardage. It’s usually men who have this ego thing going. In other words, they get a little humiliated when they are on a par 3 hole for 150 yards and their partner ask “what club are you using?” The man replies “6-iron.” And then his partner says, “I’m using a 7” and the first man feels weak and then wants to increase his distance to “catch up.”
This may sound silly to some of you but trust me, it happens every day out there on the course. If I just referred to you, then you need to read the rest of my mental game articles or get my Break 80 Without Practice because you have lost sight of the fact that the whole point is to get a lower score and not to look good.
Anyway. The no-practice ways of increasing your distance with your driver comes down to these 2 possibilities. Improving the flexibility and strength of your body and hitting the sweet spot of your clubface more often. Neither of these require any practice.
To increase distance using your body, the advice is simple: stretch more and incorporate some resistance exercises and you can do this at home. One simple thing you can do that will have dramatic effects for an increase in distance is to regularly and often squeeze a tennis ball while kicking back at home and watching TV or at the office. This absolutely strengthens your forearms, hands and finger muscles which will translate into a quicker, more powerful whip-like motion right at impact during your swing and thus put more club speed on the ball and send it farther.
Stretching should be often and everywhere throughout your life. Simple stretches for the shoulders and lower body feel great and allow your muscles to really move the body for a more powerful swing. I’ve been doing yoga a lot lately and I have really been pleasantly surprised at how this has helped my golf game. Many pros are doing it as well. Just stretch yourself a lot more if you want to increase distance.
The problem with this tip is that it’s too simple and most golfers will go back to trying to find the perfect swing because of all the brainwashing coming from the golf industry. I’m sorry to make things so simple and effective that they’re not believable but I am an efficiency fanatic from my days as a Fedex manager.
Then next tip is to focus on that sweet spot of your driver. Put your INTENTION into that spot as the center of your golf world. The more mental energy and attention you expend on communicating to your unconscious mind that that is what you want at the moment of impact, the more likely it is to respond with guiding your body to the balance and precision of movement to make that happen. Think about the sweet spot striking the back of the ball as you drift off to sleep each night for the next week. Bring your driver with you to work each day this week and stand there for just a few seconds holding the club against the ball with both hands in the perfect spot.
The object here is to get the message to the unconscious mind in no uncertain terms that this is the way you drive the ball. When you want to take this to the next level and turbocharge the process, then you’ll want to do golf golf hypnosis and send that message just like a telephone call. Mentally rehearse in a daydream or in golf hypnosis or in slow motion for real with the club in your hands and stop the club at the place of impact with the sweet spot making contact. Freeze that picture in your mind and visit it often.
The more intention you give to this process, the more you WILL hit the sweet spot and your average driving distance will increase. Long distance drivers always advise us: “If you want to hit the ball farther, hit it more solid”
How to get in the zone for golf interview I conducted with Kelly Sullivan Walden.
I have read much from sports psychologists about how to get in the zone. Much of it is common sense and even more of it has been talked about ad nauseum and rehashed by everyone. Kelly comes to golf performance improvement from a much different place and I believe is exactly what many golfers have been missing by following all of the standard advice out there.
In this interview, she gives you a mindset of what will get you to the gateway of that zone. Nobody, but nobody can promise you that you can get in the zone at will. If anybody ever figured that out, they would own the world so don’t buy into that b.s. marketing out there.
You can, however, drastically increase your chances and get into FLOW which is the precursor to the zone. I think that Kelly has really discovered a very time and effort efficient approach that can work for anyone but will be especially valuable to those that don’t have much time to practice. Her website is: Zone Golf Now
If you really listen, you will find something very powerful here: Right click and “Save as” to Download .mp3 Here
or listen right here:
The full training lasted about an hour and a half and we got into much specifics. If you would like to hear it in it’s entirety, go to golf hypnosis. There, I have a $7 for 7 days trial in the membership. There are 14 hypnosis sessions on all phases of the game including “The long game series” for increasing distance and improving accuracy, the putting series for confidence and green reading, eliminating the yips, mental game trainings for focus and concentration and eliminating fears. How to improve your golf visualization skills, and how to do self hypnosis…and much more. All for $7. Click the graphic below.
Ok, Ok, I know 4 parts is a bit much, but it’s soooo important in managing our game for lower scores that I felt I had to fill in some blanks from what is not on the CD’s. I’ll make this the last one for now but who knows, I’m always reading and researching new things to tell you about this area in the future. Anxiety on the golf course comes from all of our difficult emotions. We fear them and we fear the perception of failure. This is what causes the anxiety which could be just a mask over the real fears.
Well, there is something we can do about it on the golf course when we are out of emotional control:
So I left you last week by saying that our unconscious mind is the domain of all of our emotions and that it reacts symbolically. This means that it does things and acts when it is presented with something that triggers one it’s automatic responses. For instance, many people will instantly change their attitude when they see a person in a uniform of some authority. Like say a police officer uniform or maybe a military uniform. They may have a positive or negative reaction but all the same, it’s just some cloth on a body.
We react all day every day to such symbols like logos, flags, monuments etc. The point is, your body can instantly manifest a physical change without your trying to by being exposed to a symbol of some sort and it’s all controlled at the unconscious level. Knowing this, psychology and NLP have come up with some ways to take advantage of this for creating positive states and change. I’ve found it to be useful on the golf course as well.
So let’s say you’ve just lost your cool on the last shot but the next one coming up is very important. You know from the last article that there are chemical processes at work in your body and so you need something strong, right now, as an antidote to turn it around. What you might want to do is to bring something with you in your golf bag, maybe it’s a special red handkerchief, maybe it’s your lucky hat, it could be anything that you believe is your symbol for a resourceful state. Something that you had with you that you associate (an anchor) with a successful achievement from your past like a trophy. Your body has the ability to instantly change it’s chemistry if you are really good at communicating with your unconscious mind.
Studies with multiple personalities have shown that these subjects instantly change such biological functions as: brain-wave patterns, blood flow patterns, muscle tone, heartrate and even allergies (from the book Holographic Universe) when they change personalities. That is how powerful our unconscious mind is. You can turn off the anxiety as fast as you turned it on.
You possess this same skill. It’s just a matter of thinking about it in advance and using some sort of symbol to help get you there when you want it. How about bringing a picture of someone with you to bring out. Or a picture of yourself in a great moment. It doesn’t even have to be a good moment, just something that is a very strong memory that can get you back to neutral at least. This is all very very possible and if you’re one who is prone to letting negative emotions get to you and affect your game, this is a very good strategy. You can do it very easily and all on the sly by just going into your bag and opening your wallet for second and taking a look at that picture right there on the golf course.
The last thing I want to leave you with on this subject is that we can become addicted to the anxiety and emotions. Yep, no kidding, just like an addictive drug. Some of you may be surprised to learn that you can actually become addicted to feeling angry or frustrated. Why in the world would we do that? The answer is the same as why do people like to go see horror movies: it makes them feel alive. It helps them express passion that they may otherwise be lacking. It’s not that we consciously WANT to be angry. It’s just that those darn peptides cause the cells to go crazy, vibrate, move. If you want to see a funny explanation of that in a movie I recommend “What the bleep do we know.”
Anyway, again, it’s awareness. Ask yourself are you in a habit of getting angry? Can you go a full round without losing it? Play your next round with only that goal in mind and forget about your score. And then, at night when doing your mental practice and self-hypnosis or accelerated learning visualizations, see yourself in complete control of all your emotions and state. Play that round in your head like you see Retief Goosen at a major. Rehearse it regularly just like the astronauts did before the first mission to the moon.
Remember, Winners win in advance!
Greens and fairways,
Last time, I gave you my confession for a time I threw a golf club (my putter after missing an easy 4 foot birdie putt). Yes, I was and am ashamed to say it, but, give me some credit though as I did take my own advice and stay in the feedback loop using my cybernetic mechanism toward my goal of getting my handicap down to 2. In other words, I didn’t just say to myself that it was an isolated incident and that I could get total control of my emotions no problem from then on. Oh no, after the round, looking back at what happened, I became aware of my flaws as an imperfect human just as all of us are. I’m not perfect and neither is anyone else. We’re all on a journey of learning toward reaching our goals and as long as you keep learning and adjusting, you’ll keep advancing.
O.k., good, what next? What if this happens again? What will I do?
In the last article, to reiterate, it is best to prevent this sort of thing than to recover from it, right? Ok, good, you’ve got that. So after I came to that conclusion, I went on another book-reading binge to get some answers. I first went back through my NLP training manual to find help.
I think the first thing for us to know is that the unconscious mind is the domain of all of our emotions. What is an emotion really? According to Daniel Goleman, they are, in essence, “impulses to act, the instant plans for handling life that evolution has instilled in us.” His book Emotional I.Q. is a fascinating read and describes the actions that follow each of our emotions and their purpose.
It’s a bodily reaction, a release of a pattern of molecules, or chemicals if that is easier to understand. This is all controlled by our unconscious mind and is triggered by our senses taking in something and then it being filtered to become our internal representation of that event. It all happens automatically, in our unconscious because of the way we have shaped our internal representations over the years through our culture, experiences, upbringing, personality, etc.
These molecules get sent throughout the body from release points all over the body, not just the mind, and bind with cells to cause them to take an action that is appropriate for that emotion. This from the book: The Molecules of Emotion by Candace Pert phd.
The big thing to know about this for golf, is that once this happens, it takes awhile for these molecules that bind (ligands) to unlock from the receptor sites of our cells. So no matter how determined you are to come back to normal after an outburst, like when I threw my club that day, I was up against a chemical process that just takes time to normalize, if I let it.
So what should I have done differently given all this science stuff? Well, the next hole I played was a par 3 about 220 yards. A tough hole yes. I usually play it with my 4-wood that takes a full swing and very good contact to make it there. Normally, I play that hole with confidence and I focus just on swinging it freely like I do with my driver. I pick my spot on the huge green and have the confident idea before I hit that I have the potential to birdie this hole like every other one. But this time, unbeknownst to me, all those chemicals were locked onto my cells into a pattern that was getting me physically ready for a confrontation (which resulted from my anger on the last hole). This prevented me from my normal swing having much chance, and as a result, I hit a very poor shot that went way right resulting in a terrible lie and approach angle.
What should I have done? I should have gone to my next club up, my 3-wood, choked down a little, used a more compact swing that has less chance for error and doesn’t require the finer touch, and played the hole far more conservatively. I should have used my go-to shot. The hole had a huge front opening that makes it a very easy chip up if you miss short. That’s where my miss should have been if there was going to be one. The object of the game for me on that hole should have been to just get through this hole with no more than a bogey and a good chance of par; to just survive my unresourceful state. To wait out the chemicals returning to normal. Instead, I got lucky to get a double, continued to be p.o’d, went to the next hole, a par 5, and again played it like I normally do (going for it in 2) and ended up with a triple!
Many golfers, once they lose their cool, they think they have to “make up” for their choke and they start “going for it” for everything. They take more chances than normal. They get all fired up and vow to erase that last miss with a birdie. Like when you lose a bet at gambling you think you should go double or nothing. But, we really should be doing the opposite after a bad negative experience.
We need to scale back, retreat, and regroup so that we can come back strong after our body chemistry returns to normal, which it will sooner if you use this strategy. Then when it does, then you can become more aggressive again if that’s how you normally play. I had to give you all that scienctific junk so that you would see the value of this strategy and you won’t have to throw or break that golf club!
The next ideas I’ll give you to help with recovering after you lose it is based on the fact that our unconscious mind reacts symbolically. Stay tuned for controlling your emotions Part 4. Until next time,
Greens and fairways,
This is the kind of scenery us golfers get to recreate in. It could be the picturesque contrast of the desert against a bright green grass, or fairways lined with majestic pine trees, or wetlands with wildlife and plants that you rarely would get to see otherwise. Most of us would admit that it’s one of the reasons we love this game; that we love the beauty of the outdoors. Even on a mini course in the heart of the city it’s still a welcome break from the normally chaotic scenes we take in our vision on an average day.
You’re there because you love it. You’re there because you want to be. It’s a release from our every day worries. It’s a respite from the pressures of our jobs. It’s a break from all those people who want a piece of you all day. It’s a time-out from stress and having to think hard to solve problems. And for some of us, it’s an opportunity to challenge ourselves when we don’t get enough of that to stimulate our brain as much as it needs to feel alive. On top of that, we get to do it with people of our choice, like-minded friends and friendly souls to exercise our social nature.
What I’m trying to say right off here is that, we don’t deserve to get anger or frustration. What? No, we don’t. But I just missed a 3 foot putt that cost me $100 and yes, I am angry about it and experiencing frustration!
Go and reread the first paragraph again. Doesn’t it seem downright silly to be angry given all that? Just the fact that we have enough money to be able to spend some of it this way puts us in the top 5% of people on this planet that can even afford it!! Do you know how lucky we are to be able to even play golf? Billions of people don’t know where their next meal is coming from and so we have only the right to be thankful and grateful. And yes, even a duty to really enjoy everything about this game, even the times when we don’t play so well.
The thought I hope comes to your head now is: “I never thought of it THAT way.”
That’s called perspective.
I know, I never thought of it that way either until recently. We take so many things for granted in our lives and I’m now going to make every effort to be grateful and thankful and those conscious-directed thoughts will not only keep my body’s natural balance in order, but I believe it will also do something for my spirit.
I threw a club a few years ago ! It’s true! I was so angry with myself for missing a putt I thought I should have made. I winged my putter about 30 feet toward the next tee (didn’t want to have to do any extra walking you see- Hah!) You know, I wasn’t even so angry that I missed the putt as much as I was for not following all of my own advice that I’ve been giving out. I didn’t follow through and didn’t hold my finish and so the putt was a weak stab. I was angry for not living up to my own expectations. And how many times have I preached and written about not having expectations? And there I went and did it myself!
What’s really ironic, is that the fact that I had expectations of myself to play the way I tell others, perfectly all of the time, is the exact reason why I didn’t play the way I tell others! It’s the reason why I missed that putt! Had I put myself in the correct frame of mind BEFORE playing that day, and kept myself there,
I would have given my unconscious the opportunity to consistently follow all the instrutions I’ve been giving it including making sure that I hold my finish on putts. It all goes back to internal representations, it always does.
You get yourself wound up in this endless loop of “why me?”
More confession time: That day that I threw the putter, I was on the 6th hole and that putt was about 4 feet for a birdie. I had parred all 5 holes prior to that. So even after missing that putt, I was still at par. So I tried to get ahold of myself because I knew there was lots of holes to play. But guess what, the chemicals in my body had already been released from my little tantrum. My limbic brain had already hijacked my neuron transmission processes. I read in the book Emotional IQ by Daniel Goleman that when this happens, you are at the mercy of that part of your brain for awhile. Normal patterns of electrical impulses in the brain get redirected so that some information doesn’t get registered in parts of the brain that help with making informed decisions. Have you ever heard someone say something like “I’m so mad I can’t even see straight?” That’s a physiological fact.
I thought, no problem, I’m an expert at this kind of mental control and I’ll be fine. But I wasn’t! I was in denial and continued to play the same way I was before my losing it. And I double-bogeyed the next 2 holes. I never really recovered that day and my score showed it. I vowed to go home and figure it all out and find out why and never let it happen again.
You know, we’re all human. Give yourself a break! Get in the state of mind at the beginning of the round where you believe in your gut that no matter what happens you will still be enjoying the thing you most want to do – GOLFING!
The thing I want you to get from this article, this lesson, is that the best cure for negative emotions is prevention. It’s so much easier to not have a loss of emotional control in the first place than to try to recover from one.
In Part 3, next time, I will talk about what we can do to get back into control when we do lose it. Until next time,
Greens and fairways,
Most of us golfers have seen the golf comedy movies like Caddyshack, Tin Cup, and Happy Gilmore. If you haven’t, I encourage you to do so. In fact, I encourage you to watch every golf movie you can get your hands on. I recently watched the movie Bobby Jones, a stroke of genius and The Greatest Game Ever Played and both of those movies actually brought tears to my eyes. Really! And I’m not ashamed to admit it. Both were about overcoming huge obstacles and achievement in golf AND LIFE. They tweaked my emotional chords.
Now, don’t get me wrong, the comedies are great too for what they are! But, some of the characters actions are not what you would want to do in your game. Watch those movies with discernment. Enjoy them and come out of them with a big smile thinking “what a great sport I love that has so much fun, joy and laughter to go along with it.”
We like those movies because us golfers so desperately want a pro golfer to be expressive, to show his emotions, to be a “performer” like Happy Gilmore. Lee Trevino, Fuzzy Zoeller and Chi Chi used to do some of that and we loved them for it!. We want entertainment! That’s really why John Daly is a favorite these days. He wears his emotions on his sleeve and we can identify with him. He lets his anger out, he swears, he tells us about his problems in his marriages etc.
But look who are the top people on the tours: Retief Goosen, Vijay Singh, Tiger, Ernie, Phil, Annika. All pretty boring to watch. Out of those, the only one you ever see expressing his emotions is Tiger. He’s an exception as you’ll see him sometimes show his disgust for a bad shot but he has had many many years of mental training in dealing with his emotions and has obviously learned very well how to compartmentalize. Even so, 99% of the time he is as robotic and cold-looking as those others. Unfortunately, it is the rare person that will entertain us as we watch golf and play well at the same time.
So, I’m really sorry to say this but, Happy Gilmore is really just a fantasy and if you want to score well, you’ve got to be more like Retief with regard to our emotions. Why is this so? The answer is because of the mind-body connection and communication system. You may have heard this phrase casually mentioned for all sorts of things related to health and healing and yes, it does apply there for sure. But what is it?
I’ve been asking this question for awhile now and I believe I finally found the answer in a book called: Molecules of Emotion by Candace Pert. She was a government research scientist trying to find ways to help drug addicts recover. Her studies led her to fighting aids and other diseases. And it all boils down to this:
We create our own body chemistry with our habitual thoughts.
That’s the mind-body connection and the more I learned about it, the better my game got.
Did you know that studies have shown that a huge percent of cancer patients have had major life changes happen to them prior to being diagnosed with the disease? Many of you know firsthand about how stress affects your body. I’m getting a little off the subject so let’s get back to golf.
The bottom line to all of this for our game for you to know is that our body chemistry which affects the actions of all of our cells, is very delicate and it doesn’t take much to push it out of balance. And it is all controlled by our unconscious mind that has as it’s prime directive to PRESERVE THE BODY. So when you experience negative emotions, your unconscious mind acts in such a way as to do what it thinks is necessary to first and foremost keep you alive. This comes in direct opposition to playing a game like golf!
When you set if off balance with an emotion like ANGER, it gets ready for a confrontation. This involves sending adrenaline out, sending peptides to cells everywhere to communicate the need to either prepare for battle or to shut down so that the cells that need the resources for battle get them. Many of those cells are NEEDED for golf! Many of those cells are located in your brain that are used to make good strategic decisions about your next shots. Those resources are needed in the nerve cells that you use for touch and feel on the putting green, for instance, and they aren’t getting ’em!
You see, until I started studying some of what scientists have been coming up with the last couple decades in this area, I just wasn’t convinced about all this emotion and feeling stuff. I just didn’t pay attention to it. I thought that the key to my improvement was just another lesson and a few buckets of balls away. yes, I saw that the pros were all very calm, steady, and emotionless but I thought it was because they were naturally like that. That they were just born that way. WRONG! Those men and women have worked very hard to DEVELOP those attributes and skills with regard to controlling their emotions. I think most of them probably didn’t have to learn all about the science of neuropeptides, ligands, fluid transport systems etc. to be convinced they needed to do this to play well. They probably just saw that they played better when they developed their emotional I.Q. and so they worked on it just like they do their putting stroke.
This is what we have to do too if we want some easy scoring benefits Without Practicing and the good news is that everyone can develop and improve on this for the rest of your life. Even more good news is that you don’t have to be a complete robot. Remember when I talked about your 3 different personalities on the course. Go ahead and have fun and laugh and smile during your personable phase. But, if you want to score lower, you will have to get control of your negative emotions.
I read a recent article about “Terrible” Tommy Bolt where he said he admitted he left a lot of money on the course because of all his temper tantrums over the years. He also said ” It thrills crowds to see a guy suffer. That’s why I threw clubs so often. They love to see golf get the better of someone, and I was only too happy to oblige them. At first I threw clubs because I was angry. After a while it became showmanship, plain and simple. I learned that if you helicopter those dudes by throwing them sideways instead of overhand, the shaft wouldn’t break as easy. It’s an art, it really is…And never break your driver and putter in the same round.”
In part 2 of this, I’ll give you some more solid ways to help control your emotions…now that you’re convinced you need to! Look for part 2 in your email.
Greens and fairways,
Last time, we talked about commitment. As a helpful review, we discussed how using our own genetically programmed instructions for propelling us to golf improvement can be very powerful. The second part about the word “commitment” and how it applies to golf is what happens to us on the course. I’m sure you’ve heard it before, “commit to your shot.” Shoot, it’s not like I made this idea up myself. Golfers from over 100 years ago have been saying this and for good reason.
It’s because probably the greatest shot killer is not that you have a bad swing, or that you failed to align properly, or that your equipment stinks or any other reason that you normally come up with. The greatest shot killer is DOUBT! Yep, the slightest little hint that you’re unsure of whether or not you have the right club or not and it’s “all over but the crying” as some of my smart aleck friends say when they are about to whip me in a game.
I mentioned a perfect example of this with the Jack Nicklaus story about the 79 Masters when he couldn’t decide whether or not to use an 8 or a 9 iron and he used the 8 and sailed it over the green after not trusting his instincts and committing to the shot.
Also remember Brad Faxon’s words: “most golfers just suffer from too much doubt when it comes to putting.”
If you haven’t experienced doubt on the putting green before and seen it’s ugly effects, then you are already the greatest putter in the world and I want to know your secret. So many top pros have recounted in interviews that the best putting they ever did was when they were in their teens. Why? Because they had their best mechanics? Because they have a more steady nervous system in their youth? No, it’s because they are full of confidence and have reached a basic fundamental skill level. They have very few past failures and disappointments to cut into their natural cockiness.
And that’s all you need! The best putters in the world have long recognized this. Do you remember being a teenager and you felt invincible? Like you could do anything and nothing bad would happen to you? As we get older, things happen to us and we become more afraid to try things and we get closer to our own mortality.
When I was a teenager, I can remember being unafraid to go swim out to 10 foot waves in the ocean so that I could ride them in with my little blow up raft! Getting rescued by the lifeguard one time cured me of that real quick. I went river rafting once and after running a class 3 rapid, walked back up to the beginning of the rapid and SWAM it! I can also remember jumping off a 50 foot cliff overhanging a lake without knowing what was under the water. I look back at those times and think “how in the world did I ever survive being a teenager?” Could you go back to that time, in your head and create that state that is stored in your unconscious mind for confidence? Of course you can.
Let’s get back to commitment, which is an easier, more do-able route to achieving confidence, the opposite of doubt. See, it’s real easy for a golf psychologist or pro to tell you that you have to have “confidence” on every shot. Unfortunately, they don’t tell you how to manufacture this when all you have is a bunch of doubtful thoughts running through your head. Your standing up there with a shot that’s in-between clubs and all you can hear in your mind is “is it a long 9 or a short 8?” I know, I’ve been there. You’ve got 2 choices here now to get rid of that. You can either distract your mind with something else so that little voice gets crowded out, or, you can PRETEND that the choice you made is the right one and do it strongly and forcefully. You are going to ACT AS IF the choice you made is the best one for that situation. Commit to it! And you will repeat that conscious thought to yourself, maybe even out loud again with something like: “The 8 is the correct golf shot, the 8 is the correct shot.” Once again, fake it ’til you make it.
That’s the secret to commit to your golf shot. Now some help with making the right choice. This is simple: 90-95% of the time, your first choice is your best choice. You may have heard this before as I did but didn’t quite know why and because you didn’t know why, you didn’t trust this old idea. You might have even heard this concept as it relates to taking tests in school. I am now fully convinced of this having read a book called: Blink. The power of thinking without thinking by Malcolm Gladwell. And because I am convinced, it’s easier for me to make the choice and commit to it.
This book is loaded with scientific studies that support the conclusion that our unconscious mind learns things way before our conscious mind does and is far more accurate. Now, I’ve talked about the power of our unconscious mind in the Mental CD but I didn’t know it could do that too. I’ll give you one example of this power that we can use to help you become convinced so that you’ll learn to trust your choice and then commit fully to the golf shot since being logically convinced will only help you be fully behind your choice.
A few years ago, a group of scientists at the University of Iowa did an experiment. They set up a simple card game where there are red cards and blue cards in 4 separate decks. On the other side of each card was a money value. “Each card in those 4 decks either wins you a sum of money or costs you some money, and your job is to turn over cards from any of the decks, one at a time, in such a way that maximizes your winnings. What you don’t know at the beginning, however, is that the red decks are a minefield. The rewards are high, but when you lose on the red cards, you lose a lot. Actually, you can win only by taking cards from the blue decks, which offer a nice steady diet of $50 payouts and modest penalties. It took on average about 50 cards turned over before the subjects figured out that the blue cards were the way to go.” Here’s the interesting part: They hooked the subjects up to sensors that measure the sweat glands in the palms of their hands. The scientists found that after only 10 cards being turned over, the sensors registered a stress response and the behavior of the card turner began to favor the blue decks 40 cards before the subject was able to say they had a hunch that the blue decks were the way to win the game.
What does this tell us? That the unconscious mind accurately learns far faster than the conscious mind. This doesn’t mean that your first choice is infallible but, if you are really undecided and there is no VERY strong evidence or condition that comes up to change your mind about your first choice, then that is the way to go. And it must be a very strong new piece of information that wasn’t available to you when you made your first choice. Once you make the choice, then PRETEND that Tiger Woods himself is standing by you telling you that you have the right club or have chosen the right line on the putting green.
Commitment is the backdoor method to gaining confidence and defeating doubt for your golf shot.
Now go for it!
Greens and fairways!
In the next 2 lessons I want to talk about the word commitment. Yeah, I know, you’ve already committed to wanting to get better at golf right? You might have even taken the time to write down your golf goal as I have been pounding on you to do right? If not, better get on that! I was going to do these lessons in about the same order that the CD’s are in, but, I’ve changed my mind and just decided to put the lessons down as they come to me in thinking of their importance to your game. My research just keeps finding all sorts of interesting information and I don’t want to wait until that section to tell you about something I get excited about and want you to know. Here’s my thoughts on this concept that you hear thrown around a lot in golf circles.
Now, do I mean the commitment to a particular shot or a commitment to myself. Both. Today, let’s start with commitment to myself (yourself) as a golfer. It’s absolutely great that you have come to the conclusion now that you have infinite potential to improve at this game and anything else you want in life. If I have helped with that and done nothing more for folks, then I will die a happy guy when it’s my turn to go. If I haven’t, stay tuned for more on this in future lessons or email me and I’ll get you there if it kills me!
One of the things I am noticing about doing this business and my writings is that a lot of folks have everything they need already to be an excellent golfer and all they really need is someone to give them permission, to push them, to excite them to take what they already have and turn it into golf greatness reality. I want to do that for you because that’s what keeps me going every day. Really!
More on that later but getting back to point here. Part of commitment to yourself, that is,implied in part of the meaning of that word is “action.” You know this deep down, but far too often, we get a new energy from an outside source (me?) and then it slowly fizzles out over time and then you end up reverting back to your old ways. The antidote to this, is Action. Constant, continuous action, no matter how small or insignificant it might seem at first glance. When nobody’s around, and nobody’s checking on you.
Here’s the big key as I talked about in CD1: Incremental action. Always, always ask yourself something like “did I do something today in my round or my warmup that is a step toward improving?” Before the round, tell yourself that one of your main goals today is make sure I learn something, take something from my round for that incremental action like the POW’s did every day. I have read a very good book I can recommend to you that might shed some more light on this subject and help propel you and it’s called “ACTION! Nothing happens until something moves” by Robert Ringer.
The other implied meaning in the word “commitment” is “follow-through.” Once you make a commitment to yourself about your intention to improve at golf, you might be tempted down the line to “justify” a slacking off of your plan.
It’s real easy to do as we do it all the time with things we want to improve on for ourselves like exercising, eating, drinking, and smoking. The way to ensure you follow through with your commitments is to make your committing statements to another person, outloud and in writing both. You see, we as humans are programmed by thousands of years of our ancestry to follow through with what we say we will do with other humans.
For instance,In the past, before modern civilization, it was absolutely necessary for survival that humans cooperated with each other. If a person said that they would trade an animal today,for an amount of a crop when it came in, and when the crop came in the farmer didn’t follow through with his end of the bargain, it wouldn’t just be a little court case and a collection agency matter as it is today. No, the person who didn’t follow through and reneged on the deal would never be able to make a deal with anyone in the village again and that person would starve!
Over generations, those that didn’t follow through on their commitments to others just died out and those that did, lived. This isn’t just cultural, it’s hard-wired into our brains after so many thousands of years of this selection process. Being called a hypocrite is the ultimate insult for many of us and for good reason. If you want to learn more about things like this that us humans do and why, there’s an excellent book called Influence by Robert Cialdini and I’ll give you more items from it in future subject matters.
You all know that it is difficult at times to change our old ways of thinking and that sometimes we have to play “little games” with ourself to get over mental hurdles. There is nothing wrong with this and it is not a sign of weakness, in fact, it’s a sign of strength that you now understand a little bit more about your own mind and can use it to direct your future instead of just waiting for things to happen to you. I’m going to give you more of these kinds of ideas to help you do just that.
If you are an extremeley strong-willed and mentally disciplined person who doesn’t need this kind of thing, great, do it your way but I must warn you that it is written in too many books about golfers who have put every ounce of mental strength into their commitment to improve and all it ends up doing is putting more tension and stress through unfulfilled expectations. Real improvement in mental management for golf should come easy and without “trying.” From psychocybernetics: “our creator made ample provisions for us to live successfully in this or any other age by providing us with a built-in creative mechanism.” Our trouble is that we ignore the creative mechanism and try to do everything and solve all our problems by conscious thought, or “forebrain thinking.”
So, just simply make your commitment to yourself and someone else to taking action on these tips. Make it clear that you will always be moving forward and that improvement will happen. And that you will take small incremental action continuously throughout your golfing life. And then, just let it happen, and it will!
Next lesson, I will “follow-through” with my promise to talking about committing on the course.
Greens and fairways!
Ok all you couch potatoes. I know your only mildly interested in this area. But I’ve got to write a few things here to help you out. First off, to reiterate what I said on the CD’s,
WHATEVER YOU DO GOOD FOR YOUR BODY IS STILL GOOD, no matter how little.
You don’t have to be a world class athlete to play good golf. You don’t even have to be in shape to play your best, of course that would help. What I really want you to get out of this letter today is the fact that every little thing you do helps and here’s why:
It’s the 17th hole and even though you’re riding in a cart, you are starting to get just a bit tired. Your attention is off just a hair as you crack another joke to your partner or golf buddies/gals. That’s excellent and that’s why we come out to golf right? Great! But, you’re still chuckling about that last one about the frog on the man’s head in the bar and it’s now your turn to tee off. You try to get into your pre-shot routine but it just seems so pointless now as you have played pretty well up to this point and you think “so what if I don’t do my practice swing the same way I’ve done it this round so far.” And you step up to the ball and take a big swing and the little white orb goes flying out of bounds with a big fat slice on it.
You cuss yourself out for being so stupid and not concentrating on that last shot. You tee up another one and it hooks into the trees on the other side as you overcompensate for the slice.
When you get to the ball, it’s right behind a tree and because you are so angry with yourself and figure you need to “make up” those shots, you go for a small gap in the trees .You know “the rest of the story” as Paul Harvey would say as you end up carding a triple or quadruple bogey on that hole. You play the 18th hole o.k. and when you add up your score, you find that all you had to do on 17 was to bogey and you’d have broken your scoring barrier.
One swing is all it takes! One swing can turn a score sour like in the blink of an eye. You can’t afford to be lazy for one moment on a round that you care about your score. If you want to go drink beer and just have fun, great! Do it! And don’t even bother scoring if you have a few bad holes because it will just ruin the fun anyway. I sometimes do this myself.
So what could our serious golfer have done different to have kept his/her energy level high for maximum, sustained focus and concentration? Lots of things…
If you have other quick and easy ideas, send em to me and I’ll put them up here for others. Thanks!
I’ll catch you next time with some more ideas for Better Golf Without Practicing.
Greens and fairways,
Nick Bayley, The golf pro whose opinion I most trust, and I recently discussed some golf theory with regard to a Tibetan Lama (spiritual monk) who loves to golf. It seems that this guy has taken lessons but still can’t normally break 100 and his best score is 97. Now, the lama believes that because he knows all about mental toughness and how to use the mind, he has come to the conclusion that golf is 90% physical.
So how much is golf mental and how much is physical?
Ok, here’s what I think….
With regard to the lama, there’s just too much we don’t know about him or his game to be able to really say that he needs more “physical game” than “mental game”.
For instance, we all know that there are some pros out there that are very good golfers but very poor teachers. The pro says to him in the article: “”Try releasing your hands,” he says. “Fire through at impact. Finish high.”
This probably means absolutely nothing to the lama. And may not mean a thing to you either.
Just because the Lama has had lessons doesn’t necessarily mean he had GOOD lessons. There are more ways to teach the golf swing than stars in the sky. It’s very possible that he was taught something that just doesn’t work well for his body type. It’s very possible that if he had the best lessons he could theoretically receive (for him), that he would be breaking 90 instead of trying to break 100.
He assumes that because he’s had lessons and that he has the strongest mental abilities because of his training, that all there is left is that he has to play or practice a lot more and that is the only way he will get better. This is not necessarily true. He could practice til his hands bleed with a defective method (for him) and he’ll never get better. Witness the amount of “ball beaters” you see at a range on any given day. They practice their bad habits!
Proof of this theory lies in the fact that there are zillions of golfers out there who have had lessons, play regularly, hit thousands of practice balls, buy all the greatest equipment money can buy, and they STILL DON’T IMPROVE. I’ve got testimonials from my own customers who say that.
Statistics show that average scores have not dropped among amateurs in the last 50 years despite all the improvements in equipment. And if you go out and golf with average joes, you can just see that they have very weak mental games. You can hear it in the way they talk and their body language. I think this is because the mental game is rarely taught during a set of lessons with most pros and so most average golfers never get much info there. If the Lama said that he has read and uses concepts from Michael Anthony, Bob Rotella, and Craig Sigl and he still thinks golf is 90% physical, then maybe he has a point. But even then there is one more factor left that I don’t even like to discuss. Inborn talent. There, I said it.
Lama Kunga obviously has a good handle on control of emotions and having the right attitude which is many average golfers biggest problem. However, there is far more to the mental game than just that. Does the lama have a consistent, productive, effective pre-shot routine where everything he does contributes to increasing his chances for a good setup, grip, aim, etc? If he was taught one (unlikely), does he use it every single time? I put all of that in the mental category. You might say that’s part of the physical game but I would disagree because most average golfers know of the value of a pre-shot routine and some elements, but they don’t have the MENTAL toughness to do it every time.
When I say that golf is 90% mental to someone, I say it with the assumption that they have already had some basic, good fundamentals taught to them and they know how to use that knowledge. If they practice that knowledge, so much the better, but, I’m of the belief that once they know a reasonable swing system that produces some good shots for them, then they now enter into the 90% mental category. Because too many golfers have proven to have been able to improve their ultimate scoring using just mental techniques once they get the basics down.
Way before I ever said this, Alex J. Morrison, one of the greatest teachers of the 20th century was espousing this and wrote a book called “Better Golf Without Practice”. Now, obviously if you give a complete beginner some clubs and tell them to hit a ball without any instruction, then yes, they are in the 100% physcial category.
My conclusion #1: There are no absolutes in making sweeping statements like “Golf is 90% mental”
Conclusion #2: All physical instruction is not equal. Obvious to those of us that are really into golf but shockingly not known by a good population of average golfers, including me a few years ago and the Lama according to the article. Once golfers get GOOD fundamental instruction from pros like Nick Bayley, then they spend their efforts on the mental side of things. IF THEY HAVE THE TIME, then yes, physical efforts (practice) will pay off in reducing scores. I just live in the real world where you can tell a client til your blue in the face that they need to practice and they still just won’t as I hear time and time again from teaching pros.
Conclusion #3: Golf is a game that is played “holistically”, meaning, with the whole body and mind working together fused together by all sorts of cellular communication systems between the psyche (mind) and the soma (biology).
You really can’t separate out the Mind from the Body and put numbers to them because these systems are just way too intertwined and without boundaries. This is my latest field of study and interest for golf and other things for our life and I’ll be writing more about this as I get into it more. Wondering if I’m starting to lose it now as I go into some way out stuff. Ha!
Conclusion #4: For pros and golfers and the top levels, I have to agree that the game is 90% or more mental. And for new golfers, 90% or more physical. Between those extremes I think in terms of the Pareto principle (80/20 rule) which I love and adhere to.
Some golfers, at certain times and stages of their game need to devote more to the physical game (which might only mean a one-hour lesson to fix a flaw) to get the greatest scoring reduction for their efforts, and other golfers need to direct more mental efforts into their game.
It all depends on where they are at in that particular time and space. And their particular 80/20 rule can change from week to week. This why I always say “assess yourself.” That is, continually use the feedback you get from any given shot, hole, or round as part of your cybernetic mechanism that completes your feedback loop thereby keeping you on a course to your ultimate goal! Sometimes, you need physical adjustments and sometimes you need mental adjustments. I think that most of us believe it to be quicker and easier to incorporate a physical adjustment and so we tend to gravitate toward that area of fixes.
Henry Ford said “Thinking is the hardest things a man can do”
Greens and fairways!