The Importance of a Clear Mind
This dang game is one of the hardest-to-master indulgences we can possibly undertake. You spend time and money to learn and build a repeating swing, but every round of golf . . . every shot . . . is somewhat of a conflict between your mind and your body. If you have ever produced a quality golf shot, then your learned swing – however quirky and “yours” it might be – is actually capable of doing that every time! What gets in the way of that ability, however, is the cluttered or busy mind, and your own lack of diligence in putting yourself in the correct starting position to allow your physical skills to repeat.
The first aspect of this is one I’ve addressed numerous times. You simply MUST be consistent in your set up and ball position from shot to shot to give your learned swing a chance. No matter what your takeaway looks like, how loopy your backswing, or lurching/lunging your downswing . . . that mess has produced spectacular shots for you on occasion. So it can do it again. Not that I would negate the importance of always striving for better swing mechanics, but the swing you have can serve you better than it does, if you’ll just pay a few seconds’ attention to your set up and posture, along with ball position.
But the biggest obstacle we have in this game is our busy and distracted mind. When you are facing any shot on the course, from a drive to a short putt, your mind is filled with instructions and good intentions, warnings, fears and whatever. “Don’t hit it left.” “There’s water on the right.” You sliced that last one, so turn that right hand over.” “You duffed that last chip like this.” “You have really stunk it up on short putts.”
The list of mental intrusions is long and varied, and none of that stuff does anything but reduce your chances of performance. That’s why almost all the tour players engage a mental coach to help them keep it clean. You don’t have that luxury, but you can take a few minutes before each round to get in the right frame of mind, and you can take a few seconds before each shot to “get right” with it before you take the club back.
I’ve anxiously waited for the new movie based on David Cook’s wonderful book “Golf’s Sacred Journey – Seven Days in Utopia”, which opens this weekend with Robert Duval playing the part of the lead character’s Obi Wan Kenobi. There is much to the story, and I’m sure Hollywood has altered it a bit to include a romantic interest, but the central message that Duval’s character shares with this young tour pro is this:
See it. Feel it. Trust it.
In the story, he shows this young pro that he must see the shot before he can execute it. He must feel that shot which he’s hit dozens or hundreds of times before. And then he must “get out of his own way”, and trust that he can execute it just as he has envisioned.
This is the same basic premise that all mental coaches work from, dating as far back as you can explore. And it works. So, go see the movie this weekend, or even better, read the book. Then digest this advice completely.
Good mechanics can certainly make this game easier, no doubt. But a great mind can make up for a lot of physical limitations and quirks.
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One time I counted the mental mistakes in a round and I count 8 and I still shot a 79. I wonder what I would do if I could just keep my mind in it for the entire round. My biggest culprit is that I hit 4 or 5 swings that are perfect and then I because of the good swings forgo my routine thinking I have my swing grooved and then bam, a whack shot.
Or, in the famous words of the immortal Eddie Lowery, "Read it, roll it, hole it."
"Free your mind, Luke"
May the SCOR be with you.
No doubt. When Luke had to make that last putt to destroy the Death Star, what he needed most was a clear mind. He turned off all his instruments so he could focus only on the target and BAM--a great shot.
My favorite one to say is, "You can't putt(or insert any other golf action here) with your hands around your neck."
clear eyes, full hearts, can't lose.
@golfsmith7 -- I've never thought of it like that, but you make a great point. In most every sport I've ever played the idea is to get to a point where you can just let go and groove it, and that has kind of been a goal of mine when playing. Thanks, I'm going to have that thought in my head before/during my next round.
just came back from watching the movie. Great movie for your mental game. Not only for golf, but any sports...even life in general. See it feel it trust it...you can apply this to anything in life. I am going to read the book now. If you are a golfer, must see movie.
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