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Are you over-thinking the game?


Mental Game  

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  1. 1. Are you over-thinking the game?

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    • No
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If I look back in time, I had the usual mind clutter most golfers have. Swing thoughts, don't top it, don't get in the sand trap. Don't go in the water. Keep the ball on the green below the hole and so on and so on. In the last few years as my handicap dropped way down it seems that everything just went away. I don't think about anything during the swing. I line up my direction from behind the ball. Pick a spot I want to hit. Step up beside the ball and take one practice swing. Step in and swing. Same on the putting green. I believe that once you have a repeatable swing and you know what the ball is going to do, the stress and over thinking goes away. This allows a free swing and therefore good results (for the most part).  I can't tell you when it happened but all I know is it happened sometime over the past two to three years and my game changed and my handicap went down big time. Saying that the mental part of the game is a big part is true. If I had to put a number on it I would guess it is equivalent to an additional six strokes on your handicap. It was for me at least. From roughly a 6 to now a .6 in a few years with no increase in practice and playing once a week. Two if I'm lucky. 

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There is another thread about most difficult par of the game and I said mental.   If you  have done the DECADE foundations you hear that the mental aspect of the game is where people struggle; specifically staying focused for 18 holes and making decisions Lou Stagner talks about expectation management which in my mind is part of the mental game and about not being disappointed with results.   I know when I hit a bad short game shots struggle mentally to regain composure and execute the next shot.  As @Tom the Golf Nutmentioned the mental game can cost you lots of strokes on the course.  

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Golfers have unique personalities, at least the ones who play the game for long periods of time. We are always fighting ourselves, most are type A personalities, and a good portion are analytical. Add all this up along with a game that you can never master and you have the constant thoughts or what ifs or whatever. IMO the key to this is separating all the thoughts and questions for the actual execution of the shot. I believe that for most people to stop the thought train is almost impossible. However having that same train while trying to execute is not usually a recipe for success. There are a couple of things that I have implemented recently that have helped stop the thoughts, if only for long enough for me to swing. Pre shot routine is the same, pre-shot thought process is the same, however when I am getting into the shot my only thought is react to the target. I am not 100% of course, however I have seen that the results are getting better and the after shot thought process is more about the next shot versus the thoughts I had when I hit it good or bad. 

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Sam Snead once said something to the effect of, "Give me a big dumb man with big hands, and I'll turn him into a golfer." Sometimes when I hit a poor, or poorly advised, shot, I'll actually say out loud, "I'm too smart for this game."

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I think there's a couple of issues at play here, and I'm not sure how best to parse them so I'm just going to go in a bit and I hope you all follow.

Do I "overthink" on the golf course, I don't think I do and to be honest, I think outside of the rare Bryson type, I don't anyone does for a full round of golf. When I hear the word overthink, I think of someone who is trying to be smartest in the room or someone who gets to be too cute for their own good in how they are attacking things. From time to time do I potentially get too cute when the simple action is the best, yeah, but it never takes over for the whole round.

I think the bigger issue, and the one brought up by @cnosil, that I we all lose focus through a round. I'm incredibly guilty of it. Hell, it's part why of why when I went through my iron fitting I wanted to get into something that stimulated my brain into shots and set-up instead of something big and bulky like the G710's I was using.

Another point in this is that we become very results oriented as we golf since at the end of the day we care about the score we post. As such, and again, brought up by @cnosil, we shift expectations to an untenable state, especially comparing ourselves to the contemporaries we see on television or even those better players at our local club.

So I guess that's my take on this question? Are we overthinkers, by and large no, but we are under focusers and idealists when discussing our games.

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2 hours ago, Berg Ryman said:

I think there's a couple of issues at play here, and I'm not sure how best to parse them so I'm just going to go in a bit and I hope you all follow.

Do I "overthink" on the golf course, I don't think I do and to be honest, I think outside of the rare Bryson type, I don't anyone does for a full round of golf. When I hear the word overthink, I think of someone who is trying to be smartest in the room or someone who gets to be too cute for their own good in how they are attacking things. From time to time do I potentially get too cute when the simple action is the best, yeah, but it never takes over for the whole round.

I think the bigger issue, and the one brought up by @cnosil, that I we all lose focus through a round. I'm incredibly guilty of it. Hell, it's part why of why when I went through my iron fitting I wanted to get into something that stimulated my brain into shots and set-up instead of something big and bulky like the G710's I was using.

Another point in this is that we become very results oriented as we golf since at the end of the day we care about the score we post. As such, and again, brought up by @cnosil, we shift expectations to an untenable state, especially comparing ourselves to the contemporaries we see on television or even those better players at our local club.

So I guess that's my take on this question? Are we overthinkers, by and large no, but we are under focusers and idealists when discussing our games.

Yea, that's an interesting perspective on the subject.  Regarding the unfocused part, I think that actually helps me move away from the too serious, over thinking part.

 

4 hours ago, THEZIPR23 said:

Golfers have unique personalities, at least the ones who play the game for long periods of time. We are always fighting ourselves, most are type A personalities, and a good portion are analytical. Add all this up along with a game that you can never master and you have the constant thoughts or what ifs or whatever.

Guilty as described 🙂.

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Funny!! I am enjoying the Game more!! Why > have stopped writing my Score Down on the Scorecard!!  Now; do have a good idea what I shot on a Hole. I know!!

But the reality is the Score is the outcome!! Not the process!!. "One Shot at a Time" Counts!! 

Yep; still have the odd Bad Hole. Probably more "odd"!! 

But, a saying got my attention [as in the 51/2" to 6" between the Ears] "WIN" resonated with me!!

"What's Important Now" is got me playing better & Laffing more!!

Cheers. b

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I don't keep score any more either. If you play all the time, year round, over thinking golf would be a buzz kill. I don't have to worry about a bad round today because tomorrow or the next day will be different. I think if you play only on the weekend, like I did when I started, the round meant way more to me because I would have to live with it for a week. So in that case, I made sure to really be committed to every shot, living and dying based on the result. We all know where that leads. Golf is a game, we aren't making money at it, it needs to be fun. And fast, please play fast. So ya, not overthinking the game.                                                                                                                         

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Judging by the posts on this site, I certainly think most of the people here are overthinking... and overly technical. My God, guys shooting in the 90s who are trying to focus on 7 different positions in the swing, worrying about overpronation, using launch monitors to try to "perfect" launch angle, and so many other things that just clog up their natural abilities. Master the basic fundamentals, grip, alignment, stance, and basic swing path, then aim it and let fly until you are shooting reasonable scores. 

And... One swing thought only on the course please. And speed up... slow play will not improve your game. It's what gives you the time to overthink.

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Several years ago I stopped thinking/worrying about the process & results. Instead, it became:  ‘Swing the club, hit the ball, find it — Do it again.’  As scores dropped, it became more enjoyable. Still keep the stats which reveal what I actually need to improve rather than what I assumed/thought was important. Using the LSW shot analysis & recommendations have been made the day-to-day that much easier ….

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Yes sir. I generally do. I have been trying more this past year not to let mishits mess my mind up. Same goes for the "thoughts". One thing that has helped me is after getting a hip replacement a year ago Sep 90 % of my rounds are walking. That extra time walking to my ball you'd think would fill my head with all that garbage but enjoying the world around me has help relax me. I think that is the key for me. Better relaxation.

 

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I dont “over think” it. Im not sure you CAN over think it. Smart golf usually leads to good score cards. I DO however frequently have a cluttered mind thats filled with fear and worry, which gets me in trouble 🤣. I think the “hit ball, find ball, repeat” method works because you are calm and not worried, not that you arent over thinking it. But 🤷‍♂️

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Sometimes it helps to remember that there's really no such thing as a backswing and a downswing, there's just a swing. I played hockey, and it never occurred to me to break down a slapshot into separate parts. You just hit the puck. Same with golf, just hit the  ball. You can break things down and look at positions in practice, but when playing, it's best to think about nothing but the desired flight and the clubface hitting the ball.

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Rule #1...never think while playing. Keep your mind a blank.

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14 hours ago, Riverboat said:

Judging by the posts on this site, I certainly think most of the people here are overthinking... and overly technical. My God, guys shooting in the 90s who are trying to focus on 7 different positions in the swing, worrying about overpronation, using launch monitors to try to "perfect" launch angle, and so many other things that just clog up their natural abilities. Master the basic fundamentals, grip, alignment, stance, and basic swing path, then aim it and let fly until you are shooting reasonable scores. 

And... One swing thought only on the course please. And speed up... slow play will not improve your game. It's what gives you the time to overthink.

Ha, LOL.  To be clear, I'm not suggesting that understanding and working on swing mechanics, to improve ball striking and scoring, isn't worth the time, but rather that doing so can get in the way.  I agree that a nice steady pace of play helps me play better.  

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22 hours ago, fixyurdivot said:

We've heard many times that at least 90% of our game is played between our ears.  When one stops to think about the myriad of conscious and subconscious things we do preparing for and executing a shot or putt, it's a wonder we're not all in rooms with padded walls. Since arriving in AZ last month for our winter season, I have been playing the best golf I can recall.  Now I do have the new irons, new putter, and new driver shaft, and it could be that it just took a few months for those to hit full stride - but I'm thinking it's more my recent decision to try not to over-think, over analyze my shots.

I cannot recall which pro interview it was where he discussed "freeing his mind of the clutter" and allowing the more "natural, free swinging" part of his skills back onto the course... but it resonated with me.  Since retiring in 2016, finding MGS in 2018, and playing lots more golf, I have read lots of tips and advice aimed at improving our game.  Some have really been helpful and others not so much.  But this particular comment really got me thinking that perhaps I've fallen too far into the over-thinking side of the balance.  Rather than step into a shot/putt worrying about not executing it correctly, I'm now expecting that I will.  Instead of thinking through a long pre-shot checklist, just trying to think less and trust your ingrained memory and muscle/moto skills will be there.

My last three rounds have all been sub 80 and yesterday's 76 my best of the season and near lifetime best.  I'm hoping this level of play continues and that my effort not to let all the conscious and subconscious swing things get in the way.

What are your thoughts on this?

I certainly used to but I dont anymore.  I think that much of it has to do with me starting a daily Buddhist practice, daily meditation and learning the way that my mind works.  Im able to tune out much more of the negative self talk, overanalysis, worrying and other mental clutter and just believe in myself and swing the freaking club.

I often remember the line in the movie, "The Legend Of Bagger Vance", where he says something along the lines of how playing good golf is all about being able to stop thinking without falling asleep.  I like that and its a mantra that Ive tried to emulate.

I dont care about new equipment (its cool and all but its not something that I feel that I need any more), I dont care what the pros are playing and I dont care about swing tips.  I mean, the best swing tip that you could ever get is to stop listening to swing tips. LOL

I just show up  at the course with whatever swing I have that day, play with what Ive got that day and I let the rest go.

I would say that for anyone who struggles with the mental side of the game, meditating can be hugely beneficial.  Its not all that difficult either and theres really nothing spiritual or mystical about it.  Meditation is little more than learning how to notice your thoughts and let them go without clinging to them.  You certainly may have spritual or mystical experiences while meditation but even those arent something that you should seek out or cling to and those too you simply let go.  Meditation is all about learning how to accept the present moment with no clinging or judgement.

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I read "Golf Is Not a Game of Perfect", and it changed my golfing life!  It's a little dated, but the lessons in it set me on a path to having a consistent swing routine and mindset over the ball.  It has dropped strokes off of my game and made it more enjoyable.

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12 hours ago, wtcaldwell73 said:

I read "Golf Is Not a Game of Perfect", and it changed my golfing life!

I'm going to look for that one.

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Wouldn't we all just love to step up and swing? I suspect some can pull it off. Others can't, that why there's golf instruction. With that said, what prevents me from just swinging my swing, is the thought that the downswing must start from the ground up. I have difficulty with this. But, still believe in it. What do you think? Must the swing start with a lower body part (feet, knees, hips up to the core, shdrs. arms, club etc)

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