Golf, Part Eight: Mental Aspects

The eight part in a series.

Golfers are inundated from many sources with ‘swing tips’ that address effects, just pick up any golf magazine or book to find them. Little clarity is gained regarding the first causes that produce those effects. Two of the three necessary causes have been introduced in previous articles. Little improvement progress can be expected without a balanced Athletic Readiness & a reliable Grip. There are two effective motion types. Both consist of two parts: Coiling or Gathering (often erroneously referred to as Takeaway or Backswing) & Springing or Thrusting (again, misleadingly referred to as the Start-down or Transitional Move & Follow-through). Information on the most effective type will be supplied in future articles.

The golfer who wishes to improve ball striking consistency must accept the fact that the primary goal is to make a repetitive motion. Ball behavior is a resultant effect of that motion. Therefore, the first mental discipline is to forget about ball behavior when working upon the motion. Sounds like an oxymoron but it is not. When the motion gets better the shots get better.

Secondly, one must understand that there is a difference between Golf Practice & Practicing Golf.

Golf Practice is consciously working upon one of the three causes at a time, with or without a golf ball. As each cause is made up of several aspects, that is quite an assignment. Once Athletic Readiness & Grip are worked into some dependability, a typical Golf Practice session might consist of: (1) Attention to one AR aspect—five minutes (2) Attention to feel of grip—five minutes (3) Attention to Initial Move—30 minutes (4) Repeat. Future articles will offer support suggestions.

Practicing Golf is subconsciously applying the motion at the golf course (playing). Playing subconsciously (in the zone), in its purest sense, means to allow imagination: to be devoid of conscious interference. Soccer great Pele once described the feel of this state of mind as being engulfed in a shroud of invincibility.

No basketball player has 'shot thoughts'. No soccer player has 'kick thoughts'. No golfer should have 'swing thoughts'. Each simply makes an instinctive response to a target. Playing a game is an instinctive thing:

1. The viability of imaginations' plan must be confirmed by the subconscious and trusted by the conscious. Comes only from experience.

2. There can be no argument by the conscious and no complains should the plan go awry. The conscious mind must allow motion to flow to completion. Caring about perfect insures a lesser quality of imperfection.

Ben Hogan once observed that once you start down it is too late to change your mind. Martial arts legend Bruce Lee likened those who have conscious thoughts in competition as being in a cage. Gearing toward athletic balance and tempo is a beautiful thing.


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