So I’m lying here on my bed this weekend sick with the flu and contemplating weakness. I couldn’t swing a club 10 mph right now let alone play a decent game. My body just pretty much told me I need a break and it shut me down. My thoughts started flowing from weakness to our hero, Tiger Woods. Here’s a quote I pulled from ESPN:
“But 2010 — the Lost Year — has been a direct byproduct of Woods’ personal and professional issues. He has gone 11 consecutive rounds without breaking 70, tying the second-longest such stretch of his pro career. Five more rounds of 70-plus and he breaks his record.”
Conclusion, if the greatest golfer in the world is not immune to mental problems messing up his game, what makes us think we are any better? And this guy is said to be the most mentally tough athlete on the planet!
Did you ever think about why there is a “home field advantage?” Why is it that grown men and women don’t play as well on visiting playing fields/arenas as they do from their home? It sounds all so silly. They play on the same exact dimensions at home as when visiting and yet, many is the team that has a poor away record.
Does this happen in golf? You bet it does. Don’t you feel differently on your home course than one you’ve only played once on a practice round? Why does all of this happen? How do we prevent or turn it around?
What happens in all cases (except my flu), is that our perceptions of things become more than just fleeting thoughts. They actually sink into the muscles and tissues and cause interference. Look up “applied kinesiology” or “muscle testing.”
You see, we have zillions of neurons firing all of the time and when we put intention into something, those neurons follow patterns to get that something done. Tiger Woods has created some serious interference in his neural network that actually gets in the way of his intentions to win again. Every time he thinks about his problems, he strengthens that interference.
If you have perceptions or learnings during a time when you have strong emotions, well now you’ve got a double whammy.
Bottom line…disempowering thoughts literally get stuck in the body whether they are right now: “I can’t buy a putt” or from a couple months ago during a divorce. The mind affecting the body is real my fellow golfers.
There is a solution, you can get rid of that interference. There’s actually multiple ways but I only practice one of them. You can do accupuncture, you might get lucky with counseling, and there are various forms of “energy” work. I use golf hypnosis.
I can’t wait to see how Tiger does next year. Tiger has done hypnosis and other forms of mediation since he was 13 and I”m betting he’ll come back to his old self next year. He still has the skills and tools, physical and mental. You want to make it a regular habit to find ways to “let go” of your chokes, mistakes and other interference however you do it…or it will continue to haunt you.
Greens and fairways,
What? 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. Here’s why: when you start to read golf instruction in books, you start to find that there are some universal truths about how amateurs should play in order to actually cut their scores. I have and will continue to cover these ways in my writings and lessons in this site.
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 the ideas here and not caring about your score. Great! So long as that is your INTENTION for the day. Too many golfers go out there in complete denial of reality thinking they can have that cake of appearances and eat it too. But not you or any of my clients anymore. From now on, you are going to do everything with INTENTION with regards to 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. Just 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?”
What happens out there on the course is you get tempted. Really tempted to “go for it.”
Resist that temptation with the sweet feeling of looking at your scorecard at the end of a round and not finding any double bogeys. If there is anything that age and wisdom have taught me about this game is that a conservative strategy is the way to go. When your buddy is using a 6 iron and you feel that a 5 iron is the more sensible choice, LISTEN to that feeling…it’s your unconscious mind communicating to you.
Decide at the beginning of a round that “Today, I am all about making every decision on the course that a lower score is my priority.”
Think back on rounds in the past where you indulged in useless activities, thought, or emotion that hurt your shot at a a lower golf score. Yes, it’s true, negative self talk is undulgent! I want you to fight it, dispute it, push through it. Stay focused and robotic on your preshot routine, keep to your plan, and play within your game and you will lower your scores.
Greens and fairways,
One cornerstone to good playing is minimizing mistakes. It has been said by many golf pundits that those who play well are those who make the least number of mistakes, least severity of them, at the least crucial times, and recover most quickly from them. Years ago, I created the “cake” metaphor for good scoring. Great shots and pure hits are merely the frosting on the cake. However, consistency is the cake itself. And one way to improve consistency is by controlling mistake patterns.
In any round of golf, there is a plethora of possible pitfalls. On any given shot, there are so many things that can go wrong–mechanically, physically, rhythmically, mentally, emotionally, and tactically. In fact, there seems to be a least ten times as many things that can go wrong than can go right. No wonder so many of us are basket cases!
When we become aware of what can possibly go wrong, we tend to become more tentative and even defensive in both thinking and executing. It is, indeed, a self-fulfilling prophecy that the more we attempt to prevent errors the more we actually ensure them occurring. (Remember your “Don’t hit it right OB” admonition? And where did that shot go?!) However, we can’t ignore their reality either. Inconsistent play, blowup holes, and even giving up are grounded in such ignorance. Clearly, in order to play smart golf we have to better understand and channel our personal error patterns.
Think about it, what is the first thing you remember about the most current round? Mistakes. You think about the number of “shots left out on the course,” the big blunders, the missed opportunities, the dumb choices, and even the outright chokes. The more you reflect on your mistakes the more aware you become that you have made similar ones before. Just as there are patterns to your optimal play, there are also patterns to your mistakes.
Now, think about this: no mistake is ever made in isolation. Mistake patterns have components that are mental, emotional, and/or tactical. Even a blatant mishit is grounded in your mindset as you set up over the shot. From twenty-plus years of playing sessions with golfers, it has been my experience that in every double bogey there was at least one shot that was a dumb play.
Click the image to get your head right and get Mind Links.
Realize that there has NEVER been a perfectly played round. Even at the height of his powers, the great Ben Hogan admitted that in any given round he only hit about seven shots purely or, as he said, “as I intended.” If the great Hogan said he only hit seven pure shots per round, how come you expect to hit every shot perfectly?
Also, in the early days of the golf handicapping system, Walter Hagen equated players’ numbers to about the amount of major swing errors they typically committed per round. There is a lot of wisdom in his concept.
In fact, I have expanded Hagen’s theory to include mental, emotional, shotmaking, and course management mistakes as well. Here is my ratio: ALL GOLFERS MAKE MISTAKES AT LEAST TWO TIMES THEIR INDEX NUMBER. Hence if your current index is 12, you will make over two dozen little mistakes per round. Think about your playing patterns before you accept my ratio. It is nothing about which to become discouraged. You see, only after we fully accept something can we then do something about it.
Golf is just a darned difficult game. And mistakes are an inherent part of the game. Accept the fact that you will make mistakes. Give yourself a break and be easier on yourself. This is the first mindset to establish in playing better and more enjoyable golf.
To be continued next week…
“They Keep Lying And You Keep Buying”
Aren’t you tired of missing 3-footers? They not only cost you the hole, but it costs you your cool and about 5 more holes right after…Yeah, that little train-track putting gadget you bought really saved your butt under pressure there didn’t it?
Did you know that recent machine tests have been done that prove that an old persimmon wood (yep, you read that right, the kind your grandfather used to play) hits the ball the same distance as all those fancy new metals of today?
And yet, with larger sweet spots, with all those gadgets, all those swing instruction programs, all those new high-tech fancy clubs, all those new golf ball polymers, all those perfectly manicured courses and even GPS units that tell you exactly how far your next shot is…Average Golfer Scores Have Not Dropped Since Steel Shafts Replaced Hickory!
Why is this?
The mental game…
Craig Sigl – The Golf Anti-practice expert
Dr. Tom Kubistant, sports psychologist has worked with world-class athletes since 1971. He is the most experienced psychologist on the mental game of golf on the planet!! To take advantage of his decades of golf wizardry, Get
Mind Links now!
Author of “Performing Your Best, Links Golf, Mind Pump: The Psychology of Body Building, business and sales training audios, over 280 articles for magazines and now………Mind Links – The Psychology of Golf.
How did I swing so fluidly on the range 10 minutes ago, but now, on the first hole, I chop at the ball like a lumberjack?
This is one of the greatest frustrations most golfers face. We’ve proved to ourselves that we can swing well on the practice range, but transferring these feelings, the rhythm and confidence onto the course is quite a different challenge.
The ability to transfer your golf game from the range onto the course is one of the essential mental skills to be mastered.
This mental skill can be learned and improved. Just like any teaching professional worth his or her salt better be able to cure a slice, any golf psychologist better be able to help golfers take their games from the range to the course.
To effectively transfer your golf game over, there are essential mental perspectives to apply.
First, the 7-iron you hit on the range is entirely different from the 7-iron you might hit on the first hole. They are two separate situations that involve quite different mental processes.
Most often, we feel good about our swings on the range after we have repeated the same shot. We feel our swings are “grooved.”
But during a round you only get one chance at each shot. Second, When warming up prior to a round there are myriad swing factors to which you may be paying attention – posture, alignment, takeaway, hand positions, rotation, swing plane, tempo, plus any swing cue that has been working for you.
Trying to do all of those things over a shot during the round will probably lead to a
mental meltdown. Forget about all these isolated mechanical issues and perform integrated swings. This
is where mind and body come together.
Third, on the range you’re in a ball orientation, but during a round you need be in target and process orientations. During warm–up, you are focusing on striking the ball and maybe seeing how it flies through the air. There, the golf ball is the end.
But during a round the ball is a means to other ends. Once you step onto the golf course, you have to focus on a target, whether it be the hole or a spot in the fairway.
These three mental perspectives are critical to performing at your best during a round.
During your warm-up on the range, you must gradually and consciously shift your thinking from a practice mentality to a playing mentality~ The best way to do this is to follow what Ed Grant advised back in 1981:
“If you want to play more like you practice, you must star to practice like you play.”
From your practice sessions to you warm-up sessions, everything you do should be done in the way
you would like to do them on the course. Pick out a precise target, follow your preshot routine and commit yourself to the shot. If you’re hitting more than two balls per minute, you’re going too fast.
Granted, there are times to do drills or work on specific mechanics, but the last
half of every practice session should be used to replicate the kinds of on-course performances you seek.
1. GO THROUGH YOUR RELAXATION sequence and settle into
yourself as you stretch. Good players do this before theyhit balls and even just
before theywalkto the first tee.
2. ALTERNATE YOUR SHOTS on the
range. Hit a 9-iron and then a 6-iron. -Yes, you might not feel cdmfoi~table
doing this,but it is more akin to what you will be facing on the course.
3. PICK OUT VERY SPECIFIC
TARGETS. Aim for dead grass or a drain. Get used to focusing on a target.
4. HIT THREE-QUARTER SHOTS
and work the ball. Let’s face it, perhaps only half of the shots you hit during a
round will be your standard full swing on a flat stance with the ball sitting up.
Get a feeling and confidence on the
range for your creative shots.
5. REHEARSE KEY SHOTS you’ll be
hitting in the first three holes. For example, I believe the first hole at Graeagle
Meadows is the most demanding opening hole in Northern California. It’s a 440-yard
dogleg left around trees with water on the right. On the range, Iwill practice
drawing a three-wood. I imagine myself on the first tee with each of these shots I
6. FEEL ThE RHYTHM. The last
3rd of the balls you hit should be rhythmical swings at 80 percent full power. Think
and feel rhythm. You can carry this to the course.
7. MAKE TIME FOR SHORT-GAME
PRACTICE – putting, pitching and chipping. I believe that if you only have time for
either full swings or chipping, you should choose chipping.
8. TAKE TIME FOR YOURSELF
before you walk to the first tee.
Complete your mental transitions, yawn, shrug your shoulders and say hello to the
If you’re aware of these mental orientations, warm up properly and employ some of the
above techniques, you’ll become more effective in transferring your golf game onto the
course. You’ll truly be ready to play.
I hope I have been worth my salt.
“It’s a fact that a person can acquire a complete mastery of the skills needed to succeed in golf. Yet, this same person may not be able to perform in a consistenly winning manner. As a highly regarded sports psychologist, Dr. Tom Kubistant has made a difference when it comes to unlocking the mental barriers that may keep us from success in golf.”
Jan Usher – PGA, Lakeridge Golf Course
Dr. Tom Kubistant has been called “The Master of the Intrinsic.” He maintains the entire bibliography on the mental
game of golf…and has read it all! Nobody is more experienced than Tom. He continues to work with professional and average golfers every day.
If you want to get your game to the next level, click here to get
Mind Links now!
Author of “Performing Your Best, Links Golf, Mind Pump: The Psychology of Body Building, business and sales training audios, over 280 articles for magazines and now………Mind Links – The Psychology of Golf.
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!