August 10, 2023

Golf is 100% Physical and 100% Mental

Yogi Berra once said that golf is 50% physical and 90% mental. Again Yogi says the illogical, but hits on a truism. Translation, once the physical aspects of the game are learned, it then becomes more important mentally to applying those skills on the golf course in a structured psychological approach. Golfers have always wanted to lump the physical and mental together, but they are two separate components in the making of a happy golfer. I specifically used "happy", because everyone has different goals and aspirations with their golf game, but all want to enjoy this activity to the best of their ability.

The golf swing is the "Tool" that is used to play golf. This is the 100% physical side of golf. The better your swing, the greater your potential will be. The professional golfer has hit thousands of golf balls trying to perfect their technique and minimize their mistakes so that their "tool" will work the most efficiently. Even the best golfer will continually work on new shotmaking skills to add to their repertoire. For the average golfer, they possess a swing that they can take to the golf course and use effectively. All golfers want to hit more perfect shots with less misses. How much time and energy you are willing to work on your swing is up to you and your objectives, but all "assuming a relative degree of competency" have a swing or "tool" that they can use on the golf course. This physical aspect of the game is separate from playing the game. You can get better golf clubs, take lessons to improve, and hit more practice balls, but you still have to have a plan to use your skill and apply it to the golf course.

How you play the game is a cognitive decision. Your imagination or thought process leads your actions. How well you use your physical skills or golf swing is led by what your mind dictates. The mental side of golf is actually "How you play the game", and encompasses; concentration, imagination, confidence, strategy, logic, emotional control, attitude, and routine. All combine together to the making of the golfer that you show on the golf course. Each component is important in its own way and a flaw in any one of them could be disastrous to your score and enjoyment.

In the coming weeks, I will expand on each element essential to better "play the game". As a golfer, teacher of golf, and a tournament player for a long time, I have seen thousands of people attempt to play golf. Very few succeed up to their potential. At every level of expertise from Tour professional to the recreational high handicap golfer, the defect is in their mental approach. I'm observed a 70 year old grandmother that would shoot between 100 and 110, play the game like it was supposed to, up to her ability and with total enjoyment. I've also seen great talent on the PGA Tour not fulfilled, because someone didn't teach them there is more to golf then a golf swing. Imagination, concentration, confidence, strategy, logic, emotional control, attitude, and routine make up my essentials to "How to play the game". To paraphrase Bobby Knight; "Everybody has a will to win (play better golf). What we need to talk about is the will to practice (do what is essential) to win (become a "happy" complete golfer).


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