Think Your Way To A Better Golf Game
By mustang6560 on 4/20/12
Thanks to reader bkhuen1952.

A new study out of Purdue University suggests that the way to make more putts is to imagine that the hole is bigger than it really is.
Jessica Witt, who studies how perception and performance are related, decided to look at golf — specifically, how the appearance of the hole changes depending on whether you're playing well or poorly.

So she took a large poster board to a golf course with circles of different sizes drawn on it. Some circles matched the size of the golf hole, some were larger and some were smaller. As golfers finished their rounds, she showed them her poster board and asked them to select the circle that matched the size of the hole.

After she got the golfers' scores, she did some math: "The golfers who did better and had a lower score selected larger circles as matching the size of the hole," Witt says. The good golfers overestimated the size of the hole by 10 to 20 percent.
I've never thought about the power of positive thinking in this particular way before. But it makes sense because golf is such a mental game. There are days on the golf course when it feels like I am draining every five foot putt. And conversely, there are days when it feels like I can't buy a five footer.

The problem with thinking positively is that it's hard to keep the good thoughts going throughout the round. The negative thoughts creep up so easily, especially after a bad shot or bad break. The moment I catch myself thinking "Don't hit it into the water", I hit it into the water. But I guess that's part of being mentally tough. You have to learn to hold onto the good thoughts and let the bad thoughts pass like a good bowel movement.

I am going to shoot a 79 on Sunday. I am going to shoot a 79 on Sunday. I am going to shoot a 79 on Sunday.

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Image via Flickr, karola riegler photography

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[ comments ]
mtgolfidiot says:
On the front or back side?
legitimatebeef says:
A lot of money gets wasted at the university level.
Banker85 says:
We all know beef wouldn't buy into this, I on the other hand know this to be fact. Positive breeds positive.
Geoffre14 says:
oh so that's my problem? all that time wasted practicing things like my swing...
SpaceMaNy0 says:
Where can I get that shirt?
GBogey says:
Actually, when I play at courses with the white inserts inside the cup, the hole does seem bigger and I seem to putt better, so this isn't really surprising.
kwjenkins says:
it seems to me that the percepion is the result of the performance. if putts are going in easily from everywhere the hole does seem bigger. however when nothing is going in, I percive the hole to be about the size of a thimble.
QuickBrownFox says:
Go make twenty practice putts with a tennis ball. Then go play with your normal ball of choice. If feels like the hole is as big as bucket (at least until you miss a short one!)
rmetz676 says:
"The moment I catch myself thinking "Don't hit it into the water", I hit it into the water."

The subconcious part of your brain that takes over when you swing the club doesn't understand the command "Don't"... So if that is your last thought before pulling the club back, your subconcious hears "hit it in the water". Your thought should be "left side of the fairway" if the trouble is on the right, or vise versa. Your target should probably be more percise than that, even... but "don't hit it in the water" is headed for the water nearly every time.

In fact, as far as your brain is concerned, if you don't hit it in the water, you missed...
falcon50driver says:
That's why it is always a good thing to say to your playing partner "Don't worry about that water over there" ...It helps take their mind off the water...
DaRupp13 says:
I can vouch for the positive thinking based off a recent experience. On Saturday, #17, playing a pretty good round for me. I had to hit a tee shot on a short par 4 with a club I have been struggling with recently. I found myself saying "don't go right, don't go right." I thought about this article, and started saying to myself, "middle fairway, middle fairway." And Hallelujah it worked!
mantajim says:
So, if your a pessimist and just have to say a negative, then saying "Don't hit it in the middle of the fairway", should work.
mjaber says:
@mantajim... tried something like that with a friend of mine once (and only once). He was all over the place off the tee, so I decided to have a little fun. After my tee shot, I walked to my ball and dared him to hit me. I'll be damned if he didn't smoke the ball straight at me down the middle of the fairway. I was far enough away that I had plenty of time to move, but it was pretty crazy.
falcon50driver says:
Funny, I told my son in law the best way to get by a tree is to try really hard to hit the tree. You can never hit it straight enough to actuall hit it. It didn't work for him. the ball ricocheted back and hit me.
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