Archive for June, 2009

Fear on the golf course can come in many shapes and sizes and it can result in a multitude of problems ranging from lack of enjoyment, through poor scoring and frustration to outright anger. Most golfers will have experienced fear on the golf course, either personally or from watching a playing partner.

As an amateur golfer, although my golf is very important to me, my livelihood does not depend directly on my ability to score well. However, I can think of many times, especially in my younger days, when I was uncomfortable, nervous, scared and downright terrified on the golf course.

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Golf Hypnotist Ezine will have read in a recent post about my nerves on the first tee in the Golf Illustrated Junior Vase at Hexham in the early 70s. When the starter announced on the loud speaker system that they were expecting great things from me after my hole in one there the previous day, I could hardly stand up, let alone hit a good drive down the middle Click here to read the full post »

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I know it’s not cricket golf to talk about golf cricket on this blog, even if cricket and golf hypnosis are in essence the same thing. I’m also aware that many of my readers will have no idea what cricket is all about anyway. However, this story has as much to say about sports psychology and golf hypnotism as it does about cricket. In addition, it shouldn’t be as long-winded as some cricketing stories as I’m talking about a quick form of cricket called the Twenty20 World Cup. Now when I say "quick", I should explain that Twenty20 games take a few hours to play and that’s a lot quicker than the 5 days that constitute a Test Match such as the one starting on 8 July between England and Australia …
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If I were to ask you what you do between shots during a round of golf, you’d probably think I was missing the point. After all, golf psychology and teaching should be all about helping you to hit better shots and putts during a round of golf or in practice, shouldn’t it? This applies whether you’re working with a teaching pro helping you with your golf swing or with a golf psychologist, like me, helping to improve your mental approach to golf.

So what do you actually do in the time between assessing and hitting your shots and putts? It really should take a lot less than a minute on average to size up a shot, decide on how to play it, set up to the ball and hit it. I seem to recall from somewhere that the US PGA allows 45 seconds for all this per shot and very few people take that long over a short putt. So all that should add up to a maximum of 54 minutes actually playing golf to go round in 72 strokes and 72 minutes to go round in 90 strokes. If you take just 4 hours to play a round then you’re not actually playing for approximately 3 hours in every 18 holes …
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Now I know that we’ve all heard a lot about how Tiger Woods uses golf hypnosis to help him play some amazing golf, but surely there are limits! I suspect that there is some other force, like stage management, involved in this video clip showing Tiger walking and playing a golf shot on water.

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Apologies if you are among the 3 million people who’ve already viewed this on YouTube.

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Have you noticed how good some of the leading professionals are at grinding out a good score, even if they are swinging the club below their best or downright badly. It’s interesting to note that the real greats like Tiger Woods and Jack Nicklaus always seem to be able to do this, however they’re playing, and whatever the "rub of the green throws" at them when they get to the last nine holes of a championship.

If I look back to my early years in golf, before I had any thoughts about golf hypnosis or golf psychology in general, I was lucky to have a fair amount of natural ability. At the same time, I was rather too inconsistent for my liking. It seemed that if I started out a round playing really well, but not scoring that brilliantly, then my golf would gradually go from good to bad to worse and I’d have a frustratingly high score. On the other hand, if I started off playing relatively badly, but scoring ok, then my golf would often improve as the round went on and I’d have a bewilderingly good score. What was really odd was that my score after 6 to 9 holes in these two types of round was often similar …
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One thing I’ve learned from golf psychology is how my unconscious mind automatically follows where my conscious mind leads. Have you ever noticed that if one of your playing partners warns you about a particularly difficult bunker or some hidden golf hazard on a hole, your ball seems to be mysteriously drawn to that hazard? And it doesn’t matter whether they were trying to help you or to put you off. So if you’re standing over the ball thinking or saying to yourself, "Don’t hit it in that bunker," then you are unconsciously focussed on the bunker and that’s where you’ll probably hit the ball.

This can also work in reverse. Many years ago, I was selected to play with a good friend of mine as my partner in the Hertfordshire County Foursomes team event at the old East Herts Golf Club, on a course I had never played before. Despite my best endeavours, I didn’t have the time to play the course before the event, so I had to play the course blind …
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Here’s an interesting golf swing change story to finish off the series of articles on the golf psychology of swing change. And this time, there’s no mention of golf psychology – not one word, please!

As I’m writing this as the US Open at Bethpage gets under way – or at least under water at the moment – I decided to avoid commenting on the swing changes being undertaken by any of the competitors and to focus on a superstar from another sport who’s golf swing change has been in the spotlight lately.

Now for my readers from the US, you’ve probably already guessed that I’m talking about Charles Barkley and you know all about how he’s been changing his golf swing under the watchful guidance of Hank Haney.

For my readers outside the US, Charles Barkley is a very famous retired professional basketball player. Rather than describe him and explain his need for a swing change, I suggest you have a look at the first video below – the "before" swing. You’re more likely to have heard of Hank Haney, currently golf swing coach to none other than Tiger Woods.

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I’m sure you’ll agree that’s quite something …
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I hear that Darren Clarke’s looking for putting improvement through golf psychology and working again with Bob Rotella. I know that Darren has worked in the past with Golf Psychologist Dr Karl Morris – after all, I’ve read Golf – The Mind Factor, the book they published together back in 2005. However, for some reason I didn’t know that he’d worked with Bob Rotella.

I can’t say how delighted I am to see Darren’s back competing in the 2009 US Open at Bethpage Black after qualifying as one of the top 15 in the European Money List last year. He’s only played in the US Open once, in 2006 at Winged Foot, since he pulled out at Pinehurst in 2005 to be with his wife who was seriously ill.

Moving back to Darren’s putting psychology problems, I was interested to hear that he has considered putting to be his Achilles heel for most of his career …
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Continuing the theme of Padraig Harrington’s swing change and unconscious golf, I was really amused by this video about Padraig trying out the Happy Gilmore approach of running up to the ball and hitting it. Now I don’t know how long Padraig took to learn to do it, but it looks form the video like he took to it like a duck to water.

What’s more important, in the context of his much reported and lengthy annual swing changes, is that it seems that Padraig’s unconscious golf mind simply knew instinctively how to do it. Sure it took a few tries to get the hang of actually doing it, but he seemed to be learning the technique by trial and error. Not unlike Milton Erickson learning to walk, as described in my earlier article entitled Milton Erickson Learned to Walk as Tiger Woods Learns to play Better Golf.

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I’m really looking forward to watching Padraig getting back into his natural and instinctive unconscious golf swing at Bethpage Black this weekend in the US Open. With the narrow fairways and thick rough, let’s hope Padraig’s forgotten all about playing like Happy Gilmore!

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If you have hit good golf shots at some time in your golfing life, you already have the unconscious golfing ability to repeat those shots and score well. So, how well could you score if you played to the best of your existing golfing ability? Well, you can if you get the very most out of that ability before you decide to change your golf swing again.

One way to find out how well you can score with your existing unconscious golf swing is to add up the lowest number of shots you’ve ever scored on each hole – your eclectic score. Ideally assess your scores on a course you play regularly. Now to add some reality to it, forget about any hole-score that included holing a long shot, chip or bunker shot, unless that’s a part of your regular game! I’ve just done that and I’m astounded to find out that my eclectic score around Beaconsfield’s par 71 adds up to 50, even after adding 3 shots to allow for 3 rather improbable eagles on par 4’s …
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