Archive for December, 2009

We naturally expect the words we read to be the words that are written on the paper or screen we are looking at. We expect the same when we try to read a green when we’re playing golf. However, we are much more likely to be deceived by the green than by the written word, however difficult either is to read.

So let’s have a look at an example. Quickly read the next sentence and see what you think it says.

Now raed tihs snectene aagin slwoly to see waht it auctlay syas hree in balck and wihte. I ssucept taht it may be vrey dfreneift.

If that one’s a bit too easy for you, have a go at this next one. It’s one of my favourite quotes from my golfing idol …
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Have you ever had one of those days when you played better golf than normal, despite having your mind clearly focussed somewhere other than golf. Maybe it’s when there’s something exciting or absorbing going on in your life that has nothing to do with golf. At the other extreme, it could be a time when you’re feeling ill or worried about yourself. I’m sure you’ve heard the expression, “beware the sick golfer” and that’s what was said about Y E Yang when he shot a 7-under par 65 on the Friday of the Chevron World Challenge. Afterwards, he related the experience to what happened at qualifying school in 2008 when “I had a huge headache because I was under a lot of mental stress.” This time, he went on, “I still have a headache, but it’s more because of illness, not because of any pressure or stress.” Another good example was Tiger Woods winning the 2008 US Open despite the obvious pain from his knee.

So what’s happening here? Well, if your mind is focussed elsewhere, it’s your conscious mind that’s doing the focussing, whether it’s worrying about your health, doubting whether you should be out here on the golf course or just thinking about what you’ll be doing after the game. The only part of you that’s free to think about golf is your unconscious golf mind and trusting your unconscious is one of the most important and effective of my secrets of hypnotic golf …
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How much do you listen to the commentators on televised golf? Do you think they’re good for your golf? Well I used to think that watching golf on TV was good golf psychology. Now I’m not so sure.

So what happened? Well after writing my recent article about talking yourself into better golf, I sat down to watch a replay of the television coverage of the World Cup from Mission Hills in China. Now I ‘m always thinking very positively after completing an article, so I was amazed at how quickly I was becoming negative watching the golf and more importantly listening to the negative messages coming from the commentators. Here’s a list of the ones I remember from just 30 minutes of watching and listening …
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Do you talk to yourself when you’re playing golf? Well, if you don’t, you may have a serious problem. It’s called brain death! Self-talk, otherwise known as internal dialogue or intrapersonal communication, is one of the main functions of our conscious mind. It allows us to make sense of our conflicting thoughts and to express our ideas and feelings to ourselves. Most of the time we talk to ourselves internally and sometimes, particularly after a bad shot, we share our self-talk with everyone in earshot. That can be a large distance with some of the golfer’s I’ve played with!

Self talk really comes into its own when we are internally analysing and evaluating complex choices in our lives. A good example is when you are starting your pre-shot routine and deciding on the type of shot you’re going to play. Have you ever had one voice in your head proposing an ambitious shot with a driver and another one encouraging you to make a more conservative shot with an iron? Don’t worry about it. It’s perfectly normal and unlikely to be a symptom of schizophrenia!

Now, I’ve often written about the concept that whatever we consciously think about our unconscious mind does it’s best to deliver. And self-talk is the most powerful and influential mechanism for conscious thought …
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I’ve been thinking about the application of golf psychology to the issue of the swing thought. In other words, what do you and should you be thinking about when you actually swing the club. It seems that every time I watch someone play they seem to be taking an inordinate amount of time fidgeting with their grip, their stance or their play. The more time they take to get round to swinging the club, the more likely they are to hit a bad shot. One golfer I met recently admitted to almost running between shots so that he has adequate time available to fidget over the ball.

The average golfer is often preoccupied with his current set of – sometimes conflicting – technical swing thoughts, from coaches, books, websites and golf magazines and TV programmes. And even if he isn’t, someone may have given him a set of the tee pegs I saw recently that had different swing thoughts printed on each one!

Now to be absolutely clear, I do believe that you should take adequate time to consciously plan your shots before stepping up to the ball and taking your stance. And this should include time to fully visualise and rehearse the shot or putt that you are about to make. I’ve written before about Jack Nicklaus describing how he’s never hit a shot without first seeing himself playing it …
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