Category Archives for Mental/Emotional

The Real Cause of The Golf Yips – Putting, Chipping, Full Swing

I read with empathy and fascination golfers descriptions and struggles with the yips. Everyone knows what it is but nobody seems to know the definitive way to get rid of the problem.

In trying to solve a problem, especially when you are working with the human body, wouldn’t it be most efficient to find the cause first? Unfortunately, much of Western Medicine and golf instruction ignores this and treats the symptom.

In my opinion, this is what folks trying to fix the yips do as well. Most instructors will give you some kind of workaround for your swing or putting stroke.  This is like giving aspirin to a person with a brain tumor.

Yes, you need band-aids and aspirin as part of any first aid kit but they aren’t going to cure cancer now are they?

I have heard many stories of golfers getting one of these work-arounds for, say, putting, and then the yips moves over to becoming chipping or full swing yips!

And we all know about the famous failed workarounds of Hank Haney trying to help Charles Barkley with the full swing yips on his TV show.

Most Get It Wrong

Even the famous Mayo clinic did a study on it and concluded that it’s caused by “focal dystonia” from overuse of certain muscles. Yeah, right.  This makes no sense…

If that is so, how is it that golfers get the putting yips ONLY when they are facing crucial putts in competitive situations and NOT on the practice green?  How is it that an older golfer gets the putting yips but not the full swing or chipping yips when they have had FAR more full swings in their lifetime which are far more physical than the act of putting? How is putting the “overuse” and not the swing?

Secondly, go look up “focal dystonia” and most information says there is no cause.  This is what science likes to say when they don’t have answers because of sheer arrogance, in my opinion.

I believe there is a cause for every effect! Just because we can’t see or know the cause doesn’t mean there isn’t one. Sometimes, an educated guess that is BELIEVABLE is all you need to be able resolve the problem.  That’s what I present to you here because ultimately, the mind and body are one and the same and, even if my theory about the cause is totally false, BELIEF in it is what contributes greatly to solving this problem anyway!

If you suffer with the putting yips, all you care about is getting out of it, right? Who cares if the “science” supports how you got out of it, just get out of it!

I call this my “Plausible Cause and Effect” principle.

Where am I going with all of this?

Many sports psychologists have rightly come to the conclusion that the yips come from an accumulation of perceived mental, emotional, and mechanical errors in golf. I would add to that all the “errors” in life as well.

In short, your unconscious mind has accumulated or repressed unresolved “negative emotions” and the reasons for them in your memory. Many get attached to the act of putting or swinging to such an extent that it has now created a response that is similar to many irrational fears and phobias.

Why does your unconscious mind create the yips?

It’s simply to protect you.

Remember, the number one job of the unconscious mind (ucm) is to keep you alive. It doesn’t care about your golf game or your putting. Everyone is different but in those folks who get the yips, their ucm is running a program to stop them from putting because:

  1.  It believes it is dangerous to their health
  2. AND/OR, the yips are a message the unconscious is sending you that you now can deal with all that old stuff since you are now out of danger (this is why it hits so many older retired golfers.)

Your unconscious mind has the dual, opposing functions of repression and bringing up for resolution. It keeps unresolved traumas repressed so that you can go about your life doing what you need to do and then when your life settles down, it brings them up for final resolution.

Golf putting is dangerous? How is that possible?
Because the negative emotions surrounding putting are causing internal stress to you. Stress is a killer. Your ucm knows that and is trying to get you to stop playing golf because it’s made you a wreck of built up emotion that leads to physical illness.

This stuff goes deep and nothing about your surface thinking or actions is likely to solve it. You can’t practice your way out of the yips.

The real solution to fixing this is in:

  • Clearing all the negativity stored in the cellular intelligence of your body (The inner mind or unconscious mind) from your past experiences with putting, especially the fingers, hands, arms, etc.
  • Creating rapport with and teaching the ucm that putting is not only safe, but that it is beneficial to your health to golf and putt so that it will release the behavior. De-link golf from your personal stuff in the process.
  • Reconditioning a new response mechanism (undoing the “habit” of yipping)

The most important point for you to go with here is THE BELIEF that you can fix this problem. After all, you created it and so you can also un-create it. Nobody did it to you. It’s not a disease. There’s no virus. It’s not overuse as I said above.  It didn’t happen in a vacuum.

I personally have seen mental/emotional patterns from numerous golfers that have given me this theory that we use to clear all forms of the yips – putting, chipping, and full swing. My theory here has come from studying the work of Dr. John Sarno, in particular, his book: “The Divided Mind. The Epidemic of Mindbody Disorders. ”

Bottom line?

This is caused by primarily mental/emotional issues and have everything you need inside for physical, emotional and mental health to undo it.

Powerful release intervention work through this inner mind connection is THE quickest and most effective way to get back to enjoying your game and your time on the greens. This requires your full attention, focus and INTENTION if you really want the results fast. The yips didn’t happen to you overnight and so they won’t go away overnight either but you absolutely can get there in a few weeks or maybe a bit longer. You may find some additional personal benefits outside of golf from working your way through this.

Do not attempt to putt during the first two weeks of this process unless the yipping is very slight or you don’t do it that much in the first place. Don’t expect a miracle during these first 2 weeks but it is possible.

I have created a 3-part guided visualization process that is obviously not personalized that has done wonders for many golfers. The next step after that would be to work with someone One on One who understands release processes and the connection to the yips so that you can go deeper through your specific and unique issues.

Greens and Fairways,


How to reduce tension in the golf swing

52 Ways To Lower Your golf score without practiceTip #19  from my book, “Break 80! 52 Ways To Lower Your Golf Score Without Practice” is about overcoming all of the nervousness, tension and tightness golfers face on the course that destroys their swing and putting stroke. Simply put, it comes from fear.  Fear of missing to be precise. Sometimes it’s a strong feeling and you can literally shake or tremble but most of the time, it’s very subtle and IS THE CAUSE of not being able to bring your relaxed practice swing to a round that matters.

Typical sport psychology mental game advice to deal with that is the golfer is told to “play in the present moment.”  This is good advice, however, most golfers have no idea HOW to play in the present…and the tension and tightness continues no matter how many times you tell yourself to “play in the present.”  

No, you need stronger medicine. You need a quick thought that can trigger a different emotion to get you out of the emotion of FEAR that is causing the tension.  This mental shift tactic has the potential to do that for you.  You’re welcome!

Greens and fairways,  



19.  Instant cure for the fear of missing

golf putting tricks…You’re on your home course at the 12th hole with that out-of-bounds fence line on the right.

…You long ago lost track of how many balls have sailed over that fence and cost you a balloon score.

…Every time you get up on the tee box for this hole you find that you get a pit in your stomach feeling or a twinge in your arms that works it’s way to freezing up your muscles.

…You make it worse by allowing the thought that “I hate this hole” or “I’m not going to hit this one out of bounds.”

…You might even voice it out loud as if you are telling God or The Universe that that is exactly what you want to have happen…    

Sam Snead used to say that he was more afraid of a 4-foot putt than a charging elephant on his hunting safaris.

Fear sets in and you feel it.

golf putting tricksBoy do you feel it, and you know what usually happens next- right?

I’ve got the shortcut for how to deal with fear when you haven’t learned my emotional mastery process.

The antidote to fear is CURIOSITY and it is now and forever your best friend on the golf course.

Any time you feel any sort of overblown fear going into some unknown situation (like “will I make this putt or not”), you want to tell yourself in the most playful, cheery tone you can muster: “I wonder what this will be like?”

You see, if you go into things for the main reason of satisfying your CURIOSITY, then you will always be successful at that and you will have no fear.

Changing your outcome and then knowing it will happen can rearrange your emotional chemistry in seconds.

How To Clear Mistakes And Get Over Bad Shots

Tip #6  from my book, “Break 80! 52 Ways To Lower Your Golf Score Without Practice

52 Ways To Lower Your golf score without practiceis about continuing to learn how to golf with your unconscious (subconscious) mind and fully utilize it’s power. It controls your body, right? Last time I checked, you golf with your body.  My foundational formula that I build everything off for performing in anything is:  

Performance = Potential – Interference.

When you make mistakes and choke on shots, you literally create like a tiny “injury” to your psyche and it is literally “stored” in the wiring of the nervous system – your unconscious mind. This is some of what we are calling “Interference.”    These things build up just like a volcano. The tip below may seem a little “out there” I know, but trust me, it works, even if you don’t believe it will work. But if you BELIEVE it will work to improve your performance, well then, it works even faster and more efficiently.   So, what would you like, faster or slower results from using the tips below?  It’s your choice.    Whatever you do, you must eliminate the interference.  

Greens and Fairways,



6.      Clear your past misses and chokes, unleash your potential!

clear mistakesYou see, your body stores these misses in it’s cellular memory. The emotion you felt from those misses encodes the thoughts you have about the chokes literally right into your tissues.

Over time, these build up and your nervous system automatically re-runs the disappointment, anger, frustration and pain that you felt over the years every time you now have a putter in your hand facing a must-make putt.

Eventually, for some of us, this can turn into “The Yips” where the golfer literally shakes or jabs during the putt or shot. Here’s how to unleash your potential by clearing your failures:   Start with a few moments of FOCUS and conscious breathing as described earlier.

Then spend a few moments or minutes quickly rehashing your mistakes in your mind. Bring them all up and then imagine throwing them into a trash can, sending them out into space or, you can actually write them down on paper and burn the paper.

You can also write them on a chalkboard of your mind and then erase the chalkboard to start the next round fresh and clean just like a school teacher at the end of the day of to get over a bad shot in golf

You can and should do this for individual misses and mistakes while on the course.  It takes 5-10 seconds and you can do it in between shots.

Objectifying or personifying the mistake activates and engages the unconscious mind to physically release the stuck negative energy and you can enjoy that lighter feeling and freer movement.

What You Can Use In Your Game From Watching The Pros

52 Ways To Lower Your golf score without practiceTip #40  from my book, “Break 80! 52 Ways To Lower Your Golf Score Without Practice” is about using what is USEFUL from watching the pros. We all know that we play a different game than the pros and shouldn’t be concerned with things like backing the ball up on an approach shot when we have multiple double and triple bogeys to let go of – first and foremost!

However, what most golfers DON’T know is that sometimes, their scoring problem on a particular hole or shot comes down to simply not taking every shot seriously and focusing on everything you need to do to make a successful shot or putt…

Especially, the pre-shot routine. Pros NEVER make that mistake. After your next round, ask yourself how many times you casually went up to a shot or putt, and it cost you? Golfers are famous for forgetting that but very good at thinking they missed the shot because of some mechanical problem. Often, that’s not it.  Start becoming aware and make some easy fixes to lowering your scores…

Below is a quick tip from the book along these lines. Use it! 

Greens and Fairways,


p.s. Want all 52 Ways To Lower Your Score Without Practice?  Sign up for these emails.

40. What you can copy and learn from the pros


Bernhard langer focusI recently attended the Senior U.S. Open Championship and watch some of the greats up close.  I was particularly looking for things that pros do that amateurs typically don’t, but could do.

The leader at the time and eventual winner, Bernhard Langer, really showed me how he sends the message to his unconscious mind as to where he wants the ball to go to.

From when he started his pre-shot routine through to the ball coming to a stop, he had the most powerful, steely-eyed stare at his target.

I intently watched his eyes the whole time and he only took them off the target for a short time when he had to to set up and then during the swing.

It was the most amazing thing to watch as I have never seen such a powerful intention on another golfer’s face as his.

golf putting set upIt was like there was nothing else but the target and the ball out there. No crowd, no noise from the other fairway, just him and the target. It was sort of like watching a kid play a video game.

Someone could have called his name and I’m sure he wouldn’t have heard it he was so focused on his target.

The other major noticeable difference between average players and pros is that they spend much more time and effort in reading a green.

They walk around and get different angles, they bend down and feel the grass with their hands, and they look so much more purposeful than amateurs.

You can do much of this while waiting your turn to putt so time is no excuse.

The only difference between a pro and you doing this and reaping the rewards…is effort.

How to stay focused in golf

52 Ways To Lower Your golf score without practiceTip #48  from my book, “Break 80! 52 Ways To Lower Your Golf Score Without Practice” is about being EFFICIENT at using your Focusing abilities. We all know that it’s so easy to let your mind get the best of you and it often does that by going “negative”and bringing up negative thoughts. That leads to tension which wrecks your swing and putting stroke.  Instead, take charge of your thoughts and practice how you will think BEFORE you ever get to the course.  That’s effective mental practice if negativity and lack of focus are your problem.  Read more below.

Greens and Fairways,


p.s. Want all 52 Ways To Lower Your Score Without Practice?  Sign up for these emails.

48.   Build FOCUS to use at crunch time

focus boosterThis is actually a very important strategy on how to have more INTENTION and FOCUS at the exact moments when you need it out there on the course in order to implement what you have learned here.

I want you to have MORE FUN out there on the course in between shots. I know I am fulfilling my mission on this planet when I get testimonials telling me: “I am enjoying the game much more.” 

You are not Ben Hogan…he was a golf freak of nature for his ability to FOCUS  for an entire round.

If you attempt to do this, you will either get a headache or start to dislike the game. All you really need is an intense focus for about 18 minutes out of the whole round.

Here are some things that you can do to keep your attitude up, crowd out negative thoughts, and enjoy the reasons for why you play the game in the first place.

Get creative and find ways to put more FUN and less seriousness in between shots to build FOCUS:

  1. Juggle the ball with an iron. You know, bounce it up and down off the face and see how many you can do. This looks so cool when you get good at it.
  2. Come prepared to the course with a bunch of golf jokes to tell your friends.
  3. Play side games like Bingo, Bango, Bongo or Wolf. Did you know that the USGA has approved of informal betting in the rules?
  4. Make it a point to ask your playing partners about their personal lives. People love this and your interest in them will reflect back to you in positive energy for your next shot.

Feeling good leads to playing good.

#1 Golf Strategy Tip: Set Your Intention For Lower Score

52 Ways To Lower Your golf score without practiceTip #3  from my book, “Break 80! 52 Ways To Lower Your Golf Score Without Practice” is about overcoming all of the temptations golfers face on the course to do things that WILL NOT lower their score. For example, have you ever faced a shot from a difficult lie that would be a very low percentage chance of success and good strategy dictates that you should just pop it back out in the fairway and yet, you can’t resist and take your chances and end up with a blow up hole?  That’s just one example and there are hundreds like that. It’s time to make a real decision about your score and how that is the most important thing to you…unless it’s really not! 😉  

Greens and Fairways,



Here’s a common “secret of the pros:”
If you want to become as good a putter as a PGA Tour pro you should never practice improving your stroke on a putting green.
Here’s why…

Way # 3. Golfers don’t want to score lower


golf scoresWhat? How can I say that when golfers everywhere spend billions of dollars on this game chasing the lure of the great feelings of achievement they get when they improve?

The problem is that many amateurs are far more interested in things other than scoring lower such as:  big booming drives, making miracle shots, having a pretty swing (rather than an effective one), mimicking their pro idols, keeping up with their playing partner’s club choices, and/or just partying out on the course.

All of those outcomes are fine and dandy and I indulge in them too, but many times, they are directly opposed to you scoring lower! Wake up and smell the coffee! It’s time to make a decision that you are interested in lower scores and that you are going to do everything in your power to allow that to happen now- aren’t you?

Having said that, sometimes you might still want to go out on the course with the idea of just having some fun, or working on the concepts in this book and not caring about your score. Great! So long as that is your  INTENTION for the day.

INTENTION as regards your game. 


INTENTION simply means that you are going to make conscious decisions about what it is you are doing.  Decide right now that when you have the INTENTION to score lower, you are going to follow through with that.

golf swingJust so you know, INTENTION is my favorite word and I’m going to be using it and other important words in CAPS throughout the book because words have meanings beyond the obvious.  🙂

In summary, with everything you do, think or ask yourself out loud such questions as:

“Will this _____ help me to a lower score?”

“How can I turn this _____ into helping me lower my score?”

“What can I be doing right now that will lower my score?”

How To Lower Your Golf Score Immediately

Tip #17  from my book, “Break 80! 52 Ways To Lower Your Golf Score Without Practice

52 Ways To Lower Your golf score without practiceis about switching your REASON for playing the game. We all know that tension ruins a golf swing. What most golfers DON’T know is that they can eliminate it quite easily and this may be the biggest score-reducing tip in the book that is so easy and efficient.  Spend all day practicing if you want but that won’t change one thing about whether or not you have tightness and tension when facing a 4-foot putt under pressure.

Greens and Fairways,


Way #17. Stop TRYING for lower golf scores

You go out to the course with a score in mind that you would like to record and the feeling of satisfaction that comes with it. tip to lower my golf score You have that in mind through every shot you take, as you walk between holes, and pretty much throughout the whole round.

What you have now done is set yourself up for tension, pressure, and anxiety – the enemies of a golfer.

You have created a mental framework that says:

Good shot = feel good and bad shot = feel bad. Good score = feel good and bad score = feel bad.

You have about a 50/50 chance of feeling good.

What if you set up the framework for your round in a different way so that you guarantee yourself of always feeling good and eliminating tension and nervousness? Wouldn’t you play a heck of a lot better if you started shooting lower golf scores?

The way to do that is to give yourself a new reason why you are out there on the course and playing this grand game. You want to be out there for the sheer joy and ecstasy of attempting to master the sport and being in the experience of what you love about the game.

Write down all the reasons why you love the game and then review it before you go out to the course. Vow to play the game for those reasons.things we love about golf

When I ask my clients why they play the game they say things like: the challenge, the scenery, the camaraderie, the outdoors, the excitement, anticipation and a whole host of other things that have nothing to do with the score.

Ironically, your best scoring rounds will happen as a byproduct of this intention and not because you focused on scoring well.

10 Tips That Work For An Average Golfer

Golf Tips for all

Golf Improvement TipsBefore I give tips about playing well as a golfer, let me introduce myself, and why I am “qualified” to give golfing tips since I have been golfing for less than 10 years, am past my 50’s and have not really taken any professional teaching per se.

I live in Oregon, where it sunshine’s on the days I work, and rains on my days off.  I have used the official pro golf grip successfully when golfing, but not really wired for that grip.

I was born when all people were right handed  (1950”s).   Left handed people did not exist.

When I began golfing, my cross handed grip caused a minor stir, and I tried to adapt to the correct grip, but found it to be awkward .  I found out that there were a few cross-handed pro golfers, and they were good golfers, but never really acknowledged as such.  (BTW, Phil Michelson is right handed).

After struggling for a couple of years trying to adapt to the correct grip, I found a pro golfer who encouraged golfers to grip the club anyway they wanted to.

As he so well said, the goal of golf is to move the ball from the tee box to the green and ultimately to the hole in the green in the fewest strokes as possible.”  I adapted that mind set, and am a happy golfer even when the ball doesn’t go exactly where I want it to go.

3784888_xlTip #1.  A golfer’s goal should be the least strokes, not how far you can hit the ball.  Too much money is being spent on buying the newest club, rather than learning on how to move the ball from tee to green in fewest strokes.

Tip #2Leave the driver in the bag unless you can consistently move the ball forward and keep it in the fairway.  Digging the ball out of the rough costs strokes.

Tip #3.  Find a good 3 wood or 4 wood and use it as your driver.  Played correctly, the distance between the 3 & 4 wood and the driver is not that far, and the ball is still in the fairway >75% of the time.  (I have a 3 wood that I can carry almost 250 yds, and the ball is in the fairway  >75%).

16148799_xxlTip #4.  Stop spending money on expensive golf balls.  The average golfer does not swing fast enough to fully compress high-end golf balls.  Buy a 3 ball sleeve of several golf brands and play them.  Some give you more distance, some less spin (more control and straighter), some putt better.  (Also gives you more money to play golf.)  You will find golf balls that fit you perfectly.

Tip #5.    Practice putting, practice putting, practice putting.  Of the 18 holes placed , “the perfect score is 72 strokes and 36 of them are putts. “  How many putts do you use?

486693_xlTip #6.  Try different ways to putt.  At present time, after getting a sense of the greens contours, I set up and then focus on the hole, not the ball.  Relax, keep your eyes on the hole and stroke the ball.    Practice this for a while, and you will be making 20 foot 1 putts, no matter whether the green is flat or undulating.  Why does it work so well, I do not know, it just works.  (BTW I have a golfing partner who is scratching his head over this.)

Tip#7.  “Remember this is a game.”  Remind yourself every time you golf that “this is a game”.  There is no reason to bend your clubs, scream and holler (feels good though), and have any other types of tantrums because the ball did not go where you wanted it to.  (Yes you can throw it into the pond, but that means you will have to buy more balls.)  Remember the goal is to use the same balls, every time you golf.  (They should be well trained about 4th time out).

diet for golfers

Tip#8.  Get rid of some of your irons,  #3, #4, #5 and maybe #6, and use hybrids instead.  Hybrids are easier to use, hybrids are easier to use, did I say hybrids are easier to use, and that means more distance and consistency.   Be careful of the loft you get.  Make sure the hybrid loft is either the same loft as or within 1 degree of the iron you are replacing.  Practice with them to find the normal distance.   (Hybrids also make good “chip & run “ clubs).  I have used hybrids for a number of years and do not regret taking irons out of my bag.

Tip#9.   Take drinks, (Gatorade, not that other stuff), snacks, sandwich, cookies, nuts, and other snacks when golfing.  Keeps energy up and keeps game fun.

Tip#10.  If you don’t remember anything else I wrote, remember this…..  Golf is a game, play it as a game, enjoy it as a game.

Tee high, score low

John V.

Tiger Woods Comeback – What Did He CHANGE?

Tiger Woods Comeback – How did he do it?

Tiger Woods Interview

That’s almost hilarious. There was never anything wrong with his swing or his physical game or talent. We all know exactly what happened to him.

Nobody thinks it’s a total coincidence that his game went downhill after his personal problems.He has said in interviews that he rebuilt his swing and his game…blah blah blah…

Awhile back, I wrote a post saying that Tiger Woods is not mentally tough. I got all kinds of flack for that from Tiger fans. But, I was just calling it exactly like it was at the time. He wasn’t. His personal life hurt his golf and he didn’t win for quite a long time.  That’s not even debatable.

So what about today? Well, since I preach to all the teams and athletes I work with that mental toughness is 50% resilience, then yeah, I have to say that Tiger, having regained #1 world status again, has become mentally tough….and that’s not really debatable either.

Whatever you think of Tiger Woods, his recovery in golf brings up an important point for your game…and your life.

What did he change and how do you make CHANGE like that?

Well, this is exactly what I do…help people CHANGE.

If this weren’t the case, people could give up smoking easily, we wouldn’t have an obesity or drug and alcohol problem.  AND, this is the same functionality that creates problems with your golf swing or putting stroke. If you’ve been with me for any amount of time, you know that this is the core of everything I teach here.For starters, in order to make any kind of permanent or long-lasting CHANGE, it has to be done at the unconscious (subconscious) level of the mind.

Tiger Woods Comeback SwingWhen you tighten up, you have a program at the unconscious level that needs to CHANGE.

When you “yip” a putt, that’s your unconscious mind creating that problem.

When you can’t stop all of that negative thinking and worrying on the course, that’s also your unconscious. You are in need of CHANGE.

In fact, all of your problems out there can be traced to the unconscious mind…and so were Tiger’s.  There was never anything wrong with his game or swing.

So…step 1 is just understanding that you have a conscious and an unconscious mind and that you must INTEND to make your CHANGE in the unconscious mind because this is what controls your emotions, and your emotions are the police force for your behaviors and performance. If you get to understanding this, you are 40% of the way to making your CHANGE.

8121786_xxlStep 2 Find an antidote thought. This is something that “counters” or directly challenges the problem at it’s core. For instance, you might have the program:  “This hole always gets to me and I never do well on it.”
The antidote could be:  “A golf hole is a golf hole no matter where I play and the fact that I know this hole makes it more likely that I can own it.”

Do you see how this antidote is really specific to the problem? We’re not just doing a general “affirmation” like:  “I’m a great golfer”  which is supposed to overcome all of your problems. That kind of general antidote doesn’t have near the CHANGE power as one that is specific. You are now 60% of the way there.

Step 3Mental repetition with INTENTION to go to the unconscious.  Think your antidote thought at least 10 times a day. Take a moment, stare off into space or close your eyes, take a deep breath and think your antidote thought.  Let the antidote thought integrate with the rest of your knowledge of the game and your other beliefs. Process it in. ( I could write a book on just this step but this is the basics)

This is probably the most common and simple way to make CHANGE. If you do step 3 with INTENTION, you are basically doing hypnosis. Hypnosis is nothing more than communication with the unconscious mind.

Golf Mental Game TipsAnother even more powerful way to make CHANGE is to take advantage of highly emotional states.  Whenever you are in high emotion, you have opened the gateway to the unconscious mind.  When that gateway is open, whatever you are thinking at the time has a very good opportunity of becoming your new program in the unconscious mind.

So, going back to Tiger Woods comeback, I don’t know exactly how he rebuilt his mental toughness but somehow, he had to integrate what happened in his personal life with his beliefs as a world class golfer.

Clearly he did that. Bravo for him for making this CHANGE. Sure would be nice to hear from the press about any positive changes he’s made in his personal life in addition to his game.

You can do the same thing with any problem for your golf game all on your own…or, you can get guidance with someone like me. Basically, coming up with antidotes is all I really do. Maybe you’ve picked up some by now!

I’d love to see your comments or questions below.

Greens and fairways,


Craig Sigl

How to Avoid A Back 9 Choke On The Golf Course

practice putting 3 balls

Putting warmup

You show up to the course with 20 minutes to spare before your tee time. You spend it chatting with your buddies, stroking a few on the practice green to get the feel of the day’s putting.

Maybe you squeeze in a small bucket and somewhere in there you find the time to put the club behind your back and stretch a little.

Maybe you kind of just wander around feeling your way around the practice area and clubhouse or maybe you have a really solid, consistent pre-game routine.

Either way, you walk up to the first tee like you’ve done a hundred times or more before and everything seems ok. Not amazing or in the zone, but just ok.

The holes fly by and before you know it, the front 9 is over and you are making the turn.

positive golferYou add up your score and are somewhat surprised to see how well you’re doing! You thought you were playing pretty good but didn’t realize just how good! Wow, exciting. Much better than usual. “This game is pretty fun after all” you think to yourself.

Walking up to the 10th hole your mind is filled with thoughts of what could be.  “If I can repeat what I did on the front, I’ll shoot a ______ “(which would be one of your best if not your best score ever.)

A little jolt of energy shoots through your body.

You tell yourself to calm down and just get back to playing golf like you did on the front 9. You start having a full-blown conversation with yourself with one part of you thinking about how great it will be to get the respect from your buddies for such a great round.

Another part of you, the worrier part, starts to give you all sorts of advice inside your head for how to repeat what you just did with your swing and putting or the last advice you got from a book or pro.

Your game falls apart.

Making the turn

Making the turn

You start steering your tee shots. You spend too much time over the ball on the green and overthink everything there.

You feel the tension or stiffness in everything you do.

…and another round that “Could have been”  goes into your memory banks.

As you followed that story from the perspective of me writing this as an outside observer, can you see yourself in it?  It’s so hard to see/feel/know  what’s going with us WHILE it’s going on but it’s crystal clear from this viewpoint right?

What caused the problem in the story?  The obvious answer is because SCORE became the focus of the game on the back 9.

“But Craig, how am I supposed to avoid focusing on the score? It’s right there and I have to put down a number every hole. I can’t just ignore it.”

Yes, I get that.  Our unconscious mind is too smart to try to fool it by pretending SCORE doesn’t exist or doesn’t matter or to NOT think about it. Your unconscious is what kicked into gear those destructive parts that hurt your back 9.

I teach all of my clients that it is SO MUCH easier to replace thoughts than it is to NOT THINK of certain thoughts.  This is what you did on the front 9 that worked so well for you. In sports psychology terms, it means “playing in the present moment” or “one shot at a time.”

You hear that advice so often but it goes in one ear and out the other and what does it really mean anyway in reality out there on the course?

ScorecardIf you want to actually follow that advice and play like the first 9 holes, It means to make a DECISION at the beginning of a round WHAT you are going to focus on for the whole round.

It means WHAT are you going to fill your mind with while you play so that SCORE doesn’t have an opportunity to take over and ruin your game?

Why not make a list, in advance, on a 3×5 card for what things in your game that you will dedicate the next round to focusing on.

Pull that card out of your pocket and look at during the round to keep you on track.  This kind of mental work is what is going to keep SCORE in the proper mental compartment  and allow the back 9 to repeat the front.

Craig Sigl

Craig Sigl

Also, the next time you have a great 9 (or if you can remember the last time), see if you can identify the difference in your thinking from front to back. Write down WHAT WORKED on the front about your THINKING.  Add it to that 3×5 card. Bring it to your next round.

DO NOT assign your front 9/back 9 breakdown to any physical part of the game. That’s the trap you’ve always been in and there’s no way out of that because your swing is already good enough to go low.

Greens and fairways,


P. S. I’d love to see your comments and additional help for other golfers on the front 9/back 9 problem. Let’s help each other all out. I read and answer every comment.

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