Golf is as much a mental game as a physical one. If you have played even one round, you will immediately understand that how we mentally approach and prepare each shot is as (some would say more) important important as hitting the golf ball. After many of my early years of focusing on my physical game, I took a different fork in my golf journey and this change shaped the player I am today. It was unexpected, yet I was not surprised. Opening my golf mind to different possibilities was definitely a turning point in my game.
When I first started playing golf, I was ultra competitive with no control on how I approached each shot. It seemed as if swinging my club as hard as I could was the only smart way to lower my golf scores. After years of following that path, I matured as a athlete and realized that I needed to take a less travelled path on my golf journey. Immediately I noticed lower golf scores and a great feeling of satisfaction after each round. I decided I like that feeling and focused my skill development in that direction.
Opening my golf mind to positive change provided a plethora of topics I had only brushed on previously. I became what a student of the game. In those days there was no internet, so books and talking to better players were my only resources. I could not afford lessons, but understood the importance of talking to better players. Many were middle aged men who carried a single digit handicap. The one player I remember talking to that changed my mental approach was Reg Hennan. He was my dad’s friend and the best golfer I knew. When I asked him about golf, I was surprised that he turned the conversation to the mental side of playing. Specifically, the positive and negative side of thinking. I will admit, that at the time I was a bit skeptical, but about 10 years later after doing it my way, our conversation popped into my head and I was immediately dumb struck.
Mr. Hennan told me that approaching golf with a positive attitude releases our mind to see many more possibilities with each shot. He said that avoiding negative thinking allows our mind to think clearer and with greater focus. At the time he told about his approach to solid gold, I did not appreciate it. I sure do now and try to guide my entire game in realm of being positive. Of course, as all golfers do, I sometimes venture into the world of negative thoughts, but I quickly identify my error and shift my thinking. It does make a world of difference to my all aspects of my game. Here is an interesting drill I found on this exact same subject:
To further the discussion, there is a different between being negative and critical. Critical is analyzing your shot and identifying areas of improvement. We base our mental discussion on facts and results. Being negative is thinking about all the aspects that could go wrong with a shot even before we make it. Blaming conditions, the wind, background noise, etcetera for poor results is negative thinking in my view. This might seem like I am splitting hairs, but to me there is a Grand Canyon of difference between the two.
If you often wonder if you have a negative view towards your golf shots, try the drill above. It will provide empirical evidence as to which mental state you approach your game. Regardless of where your are mentally, it might be time to open your golf mind to new possibilities and see what new heights your game can achieve.
I am a grateful golfer! See you on the links!