The fast track to better golf in your unconscious – slow play kills your golf mind


How long did your game of golf take this weekend? Maybe 3 hours or less if you played on a traditional Scottish championship course, 5 hours if you played a fourball around a more modern country club or even more if you played in a serious open amateur event. I remember playing in a two-ball at Royal Troon, as the guest of a 70 year old friend, and getting round in 2 hours and 20 minutes and we were chased around by the Club Captain playing in a foursome. I can also remember playing in top amateur events and taking over 11 hours to play two medal rounds as a two-ball and no time for lunch. The quick round was much more enjoyable although we were both a bit out of breath by the end.

As a golf psychologist, I’ve often been falsely accused of contributing to the slow play at my home club. People assume that, with all the extra thinking going on, that my clients will take more time playing their shots. This may be true for people who implement long conscious checklists and complicated pre-shot routines, as outlined in many of the popular "so-called" golf psychology books and magazine articles. Have you noticed that those people usually don’t seem to start thinking about their shots until they have got to their ball and everyone else in their group has played their shots and are halfway to the green!

For me, golf psychology is about being prepared and ready on the golf course and automatically doing the right things using the power of your unconscious. Apart from it being inherently quicker, you also save time by hitting better and fewer shots. If you plan your shots in advance, like a chess player would, you’re more likely to hit your drive to the best part of the fairway and you’ll already know the ideal shot to play from there. All you need to do is to confirm your club selection and the shot you want to play and hand over to your unconscious programming to complete your pre-shot routine and hit the ball – with no need for complicated checklists.

The same thing applies to your putting. Just because Jim Furyk goes through a long and complex pre-shot routine before stopping walking away and starting again, doesn’t mean that you have to. If you’ve assessed the putt you have to play and can see it in your mind’s eye, then again you can trust your unconscious to get on and hit the shot. If you hit your approach shot near to your preferred spot on the green, you should already know what to expect from the putt, so just get on with it.

Now I’m not suggesting that you should hurry the shot, just that you shouldn’t waste time. The more time you take, the more time is available for that inner voice of yours to start sowing the seeds of doubt in your mind. And we all know what happens then.

So there’s my rant of the day to start the week! I’ll be back tomorrow with something a bit more soothing.


  1. […] reason than it’s bad golf psychology. You only have to read my earlier article entitled "The fast track to better golf in your unconscious – slow play kills your golf mind" to see […]

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