I am sure many of you have heard the saying “perception is reality”. Basically, perception shapes how we look at our lives and helps create the reality in which we live. Of course, there are counter arguements to this famous quote that our reality is much more complex and there are many other factors to consider. You will have to research each side of the discussion to determine on which side of the fence you fall, but when it comes to our golf game, at least for me, this is a simple answer. How we perceive our game will directly impact our results. Let me explain.
One definition of perception that fits my view of golf is: a way of regarding, understanding, or interpreting something; a mental impression.(Source) How this impression is imprinted on my mind is through the many different stimuli I acknowledge while on the golf. course.
Have you ever felt in the groove? Not matter what shot your were making, there little or no chance of missing. Conversely, there are days with my swing that I could not hit the broad side of a barn from 5 yards away. My swing mechanics has not really changed, but my perception on how successful each shot will be sure changed. My reality on each of those days my score could be different by as much as 10 strokes. Why, the disparity you may ask, will that is a great question!
Golf is a sport directly impacted by a player’s mental state. Perhaps more so than most sports, our mental attitude affects how we approach (or perceive) each shot. If for some reason if I am in a negative place, I see nothing but bad breaks and poor lies. No matter how much I try to change my ‘luck’ on that day, I perceive shot after shot to be very challenging. This mental approach forms a reality of a poor day for golf and this generally is reflected in a high golf score.
Of course, the reverse can also happen and being mentally positive usually results in lower golf scores. My perception of each round does change due to many factors (and many could have happened before I arrived at the golf course) and this forms my golf reality of the day.
Understanding this, the next question in this conversation would logically be: can I influence my perception of my golf reality before I even arrive at the golf course? My short answer is absolutely! One technique I use is mental visualization.
Mental visualization is defined as: A mental image or mental picture is an experience that, on most occasions, significantly resembles the experience of visually perceiving some object, event, or scene, but occurs when the relevant object, event, or scene is not actually present to the senses. (Source)
Basically, I visualize a positive, successful round of golf prior to arriving at the course and most of the time I am rewarded with a great experience. Most of the time my score is plus or minus a few strokes to my handicap, but every once in a while I shoot a lower score. I force my mind to think positively and as a result I perceive positive shots and results when playing. Of course some shots counter this perception, but it does not change my overall reality for that round. Hence, good things happen when I stay mentally positive.
I realize that the saying “perception is reality” is more complex than my explanation, however in my mind if I keep it simple good things happen during my round. Visualizing and focusing on being mentally positive prior to teeing it up helps shape my perception and reality of each round.
I am a grateful golfer! See you on the links!