The Mind Game
There certainly have been plenty of books written about the mental side of golf, and I don’t profess to have the education and experience of Dr. Rotella and the other experts in this field. But I do have a very healthy respect for the role the mind plays in our ability to score and to enjoy the game. It’s really no different from any other aspect in our lives – family life, business, etc. It all yields to us only that which we allow it to yield.
So, I’m not going to delve into the psychology of golf the way these other experts have. What I want to do this morning is expand upon what we started Tuesday by taking a little different tack. And that is that your golf swing, your technique and your entire approach to the game is governed and restricted by your understanding of what it is you are really trying to do.
Look around at your golf buddies and you will see few swings that even remotely resemble the mechanical excellence of the players on tour or the best ball-strikers at your club. Why is that? Do you and your friends just like the swings you have, regardless of their ability to produce the desired results? Are you OK being stuck at your current playing level, your current handicap? Is it OK for you if you never get any better?
My guess is that the answer to all those questions is a resounding, “Heck No!” I think all of you want to get better, to hit better quality shots, to shoot lower scores. I believe that’s what keeps you here and on all the other golf sites you visit. But if it’s not happening, why not take a completely different approach?
And let’s start by rebuilding your own perception of what a good golf swing looks like, feels like and does. Within a very narrow range, there is really only one way to swing a golf club so that it produces quality golf shots with repetition and reliability. Sure, there are little quirks from golfer to golfer, but the range of disparity of the swings on tour is very small, compared to that in your regular Saturday group.
Every swing will have its little idiosyncrasies, but for the most part, it needs to follow a very basic set of proven fundamentals that applied to Hogan, Palmer, Nicklaus, Watson, Miller, Woods . . . . and every other golfer who’s sniffed at excellence. The golf club has to be held properly. The body has to be put in the right athletic position to move properly. The club has to reach the correct position at the top of the backswing, and follow a certain path down to and through the ball. The club has to be released a certain way through impact to yield the desired results. These are laws of golf physics that have been proven for decades.
And unless you really understand those mechanical foundations, you will just not get better. You cannot expect yourself to do what you do not really comprehend. The good news is that these things do not require Woods-onian strength and physical ability. Anyone without serious infirmity can learn how to hold the club, how to stand, where to put the club going back and how to move it through impact. How well you perfect this depends on your commitment to practice, but I think any of you can completely rebuild your golf swing in the next 4-6 weeks while you’re waiting for the season to really start.
If you want 2012 to be your best year ever, the “mind game” I suggest you play is one of learning, studying and committing to achieving a solid understanding of just what a good golf swing does, how it works and what it looks like. And there’s no better book than Hogan’s Five Lessons – The Modern Fundamentals of Golf. This book breaks the golf swing into a “paint by numbers” approach. From the grip through the follow-through, Hogan shows you what a good swing looks like, explains what it feels like and shows you how to build one for yourself.
If you will get a copy, read it, study it and go through the steps to pose and posture into the positions Hogan describes, you will gain an understanding of the golf swing that your mind and body can relate to as you work to get better. I promise.
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