By Bruce Baird
THE MENTAL GAME – THE FIFTEENTH GOLF CLUB – YOUR MIND!
The mental game of golf is as important as the physical part of the game. The golfer must be able to think and visualize his way around the golf course to play the game successfully. A player often overlooks the importance of visualization, but it is a vital part of the game for everyone. Practice visualization skills both on the golf course and on the practice range.
MIND OVER CIRCUMSTANCES
Maintain a positive attitude. A player must believe that he is going to be successful on every shot because negative thoughts breed negative results. On the course and on the practice range, the golfer must trust and believe that he is able within his capabilities to execute the proper swing to make the shot at hand. When practicing or taking a lesson, one must will themselves into making the proper swing. Making a change in the golf swing requires 100 percent commitment to the change and a belief that the appropriate change is possible.
During the pre-shot routine, the golfer should attempt to achieve tunnel vision. Focus only on the fairway or the green. Block out all other elements that are in front of him (the trees, the rough, the water, the sand, and the out of bounds markers). By doing this, the golfer can block out negative thoughts and focus on the task at hand, getting the ball on the fairway or green. Finally, if you believe that you can do it, you can. If you believe that you can’t do it, you won’t do it!. Visualization on the golf course Stand about 10 feet behind the ball. Use imagination to visualize a line traveling from the golf ball to the hole. Close your eyes and imagine the shot you are about to execute. With your eyes open visualize the imaginary ball flying to the hole. The ball should follow the imagined flight path and trajectory. The golfer should then visualize how the ball lands on the green or fairway and then how the ball will roll after it lands. Follow the same visualization techniques when putting. Visualize the line and speed that the ball is rolling and how the ball rolls into the hole. Only visualize and imagine positive things. Do not visualize the ball flying into trouble or not rolling into the hole.
How to use visualization on the course Tour professionals use visualization as a vital part of the pre-shot preparation. They use it to relax and calm their nerves. They only focus on the positive elements of the shot that they are preparing to play. An excellent example of the visualization of a tour professional is shown by this example of Jack Nicklaus. He was playing in the Ryder Cup with Arnold Palmer as his partner. Their match was tied on the 17th green and Jack had a 15-foot putt for par. Arnold was about 7 feet away from the hole with his par putt. Jack told Arnold to pick up his ball. Arnold went ahead and marked his ball anyway, and Jack proceeded to putt his ball into the hole. Arnold then asked Jack why he wanted him to pick up his ball. Jack replied that he has never missed a putt in his mind and he was not going to start then. Jack has stated that under pressure, he willed his mind into making the putt, therefore, the stroke became very easy for him.
What the ordinary golfer can learn from Jack Nicklaus is that we all need to be mentally tough within our own capacities on the golf course. We need to visualize ourselves being successful on each and every shot. We must focus on the positives in each golf shot. We must play each and every shot in our mind before attempting to play the actual stroke. Remember– There is more to us than surgeons can remove!
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