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Mind Games or Game Psychology


Alf. S
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My brain is fried with golf at the moment, the game is beating me up. I'm hitting the ball well enough, just not scoring, which is frustrating the hell out of me, which during a round affects my scoring, which frustrates the hell out of me, and so on. Golf's Ever Decreasing Circle of Despair

Anybody got some good recommendations on books that focus on the psychology of the game and tricks to keep your focus on the game.

BTW I'm a fairly objective guy and normally don't let things get on top of me but on the course at the moment I'm like a bear with a sore head.

 

 

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Jon Sherman - The Four Foundations of Golf 

Mark Broadie - Every Shot Counts

Raymond Floyd - The Elements of Scoring

I'm currently reading Jon Sherman's book, have read Broadie's and own Floyd's (just haven't read it yet but it's been recommended by Scott Fawcett of DECADE).

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I will add, and this is something these books touch on, the key to scoring better is to avoid mistakes. It's not all about making more birdies. Playing away from trouble, not taking on the hero shot in recovery situations, etc, these are the incremental gains you can make quite easily to lower your scores. Don't compound mistakes. Take your medicine and move on. 

Another thing to consider doing if you aren't already is tracking your shots using something like arccos, shotscope, or something of the sorts. Doing this, especially if the system provides strokes gained data, will allow you to see where you're losing strokes on the course and what you need to work on.

Lastly, expectation management is a huge thing. I think most golfers expect too much of themselves. I know I struggle with this. I barely get to play or even practice but I still fight with the expectation to play around bogey golf even though I haven't done that in many years.

All of this is touched on in these books but figured I'd add some of the key points.

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23 hours ago, FrogginBullfish said:

I will add, and this is something these books touch on, the key to scoring better is to avoid mistakes. Playing away from trouble, not taking on the hero shot in recovery situations, etc, these are the incremental gains you can make quite easily to lower your scores. Don't compound mistakes. Take your medicine and move on. 

 

... Good stuff. I am always amazed that someone can miss a fairway that is 125 yds wide then think they can thread their next shot through the trees or hit a recovery shot to the green from deep rough. Or aim right at pins tucked over bunkers, short sided or near a hazard instead of the middle if the green or even the far side away from trouble. Most Am's I am paired up with just go at every flag from any distance and then wonder why they "suck" at golf. I am looking at a pin tucked on the left over a bunker from 200 yds and thinking right edge of the green or the collar or even the light rough gives me an outside chance at birdie but probably a par where short sided in the bunker with water next to it to a green that slopes away is a bogie waiting to happen. Just like the physical skill required to hit long drives and delicate pitches, the mental skills of knowing when to go at flags or when to just lay up or pitch out is just as important. 

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1 hour ago, chisag said:

I am always amazed that someone can miss a fairway that is 125 yds wide then think they can thread their next shot through the tres or hit a recovery shot to the green from deep rough.

It does take practice.  When you've tried it a dozen times and happen to make it once, then you know it's possible.  🤣

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23 hours ago, chisag said:

Just like the physical skill required to hit long drives and delicate pitches, the mental skills of knowing when to go at flags or when to just lay up or pitch out is just as important. 

Exactly! I watched my three playing partners go for the gusto all day at Southern Hills. I played smart golf and was the only one that shot in the 80's. Too much risk at that course. 

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I think my issue is expectations and handling things when they go wrong. 
 

My handicap is drifting higher and higher, I put in practise to sort issues that cost me shots, then go out and shoot over 80.

 

An example 

  • Saturday started with 2 good pars on 2 hard holes.
  • 3rd 20yds off the green with drive, chip runs thru the green, chip back to 4 feet, miss putt for bogey. 
  • 4th good drive, heavy lay up but in the fairway, 110yds out, approach hits bank of the green and goes into a ditch, leads to a double (rage building)
  • 5, 6 and 7 uneventful 
  • 8 hit 2 good shots, but end up thru the green with a really tricky chip, hit it the way I want but it sticks on the bank. Results in another double. (Rage beginning to ramp up further)
  • My head has gone at this time, no focus and the world is against me, hole 9 gives me another double.
  • out in 45 => 9 over
  • 10, 11 get up and down for par. (Rage subsiding)
  • 12 good drive but out of position, thread a middled 3w thru the trees, looking for my cut to take it away from the right edge of the bunker. Slight pull puts it in the bunker trapped up the face by the rake, another double ensues (rage building again).
  • I’ve now gone into I don’t give a f.ck and complete the last 6 in 2 over 
  • in in 39 => 4 over

I sound like really bad company on the course but all the rage is internalised. I may swear at myself when I hit a bad shot, ****** a little at bad luck, but externally then it is over. When things do really get on top of me then I’ll just go quiet. 
 

I think I’ll take up yoga.
 

 

 

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6 hours ago, Alf. S said:

 

  • Saturday started with 2 good pars on 2 hard holes.
  • 3rd 20yds off the green with drive, chip runs thru the green, chip back to 4 feet, miss putt for bogey. 
  • 4th good drive, heavy lay up but in the fairway, 110yds out, approach hits bank of the green and goes into a ditch, leads to a double (rage building)
  • 5, 6 and 7 uneventful 
  • 8 hit 2 good shots, but end up thru the green with a really tricky chip, hit it the way I want but it sticks on the bank. Results in another double. (Rage beginning to ramp up further)

 

 

Just an observation (and free advice is worth what you pay for it ... 🙂) ... the mistakes on 3 & 4 seem like pure course management issues. For a talented player (and a 6 hcp certainly qualifies as that), missing the green completely from a 20 yard chip seems like you were trying to get too much. Thinking "chip in for eagle" vs. "leave myself a nice makeable birdie putt". Similarly on 4, from 110 yards, if that bank puts double in play, I'd be looking to a much safer part of the green. With a wedge of some sort in your hand, I would think you could completely take that bank out of the equation.

On 8, it seems like there's another course management opportunity: if the chip is that tricky, move to the thought of "just get a putter in my hand for the next shot". Making sure it's on the green gives you a par putt, and the worst score you'll make is bogey.

YMMV ....

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Zen Golf sounds perfect for you

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28 minutes ago, jlukes said:

Zen Golf sounds perfect for you

 

... Amen to that. I have always though one of the key elements to playing any sport well is not caring about the results during execution. We have all seen excellent college QB's throw some picks their first years and then start hesitating before throwing and that is death in the NFL. Successful QB's learn to have a short memory and concentrate on the execution and timing of a pass, not the results. What makes golf a little different is most sports are reactionary so you have little time to get in your own head. But golf gives you all the time in the world to second guess yourself. The amount of times I see a high index player look up on a routine chip because they are worried they will chunk it short or thin it over the green, and then do exactly that is mind boggling. Instead of giving their brain the information it needs to accomplish the task like "weight forward, hands ahead and solid contact" their brain hears "don't hit it fat or blade it across the green!" which has zero information for how to execute the shot so what chance does it have? 

... I rarely have scores higher than a bogie and then it is usually the result of an OB shot, or finding a hazard that leaves a difficult recovery. Mostly because I don't care about the last shot, just the shot I have now. I never try and make up for a bad shot and I see Am's do this all the time. Hit a bad drive in the rough on a very even lie and with absolute perfect contact on a different swing plane I might reach the green. But there is a better chance the grass grabs the hosel and puts me in the rough on the other side of the fairway, a hazard or worse not getting out if the rough. Wedge out and give myself a chance to save par or worse case a bogie. Play every shot like it is the first shot of the hole and ask what is the best way to play from here and never "an absolute perfect 3 wood might get me to the green" which is the recipe for another poor shot. 

 ... In short, focus on what you can control and ignore what you can't and your game should come around comenserate to your ability.

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55 minutes ago, jlukes said:

Zen Golf sounds perfect for you

I'm assuming  your talking about the book by Joseph Parent!

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Golf is not a game of perfect or any other book by Dr Bob Rotella

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1 hour ago, goaliedad30 said:

Just an observation (and free advice is worth what you pay for it ... 🙂) ... the mistakes on 3 & 4 seem like pure course management issues. For a talented player (and a 6 hcp certainly qualifies as that), missing the green completely from a 20 yard chip seems like you were trying to get too much. Thinking "chip in for eagle" vs. "leave myself a nice makeable birdie putt". Similarly on 4, from 110 yards, if that bank puts double in play, I'd be looking to a much safer part of the green. With a wedge of some sort in your hand, I would think you could completely take that bank out of the equation.

On 8, it seems like there's another course management opportunity: if the chip is that tricky, move to the thought of "just get a putter in my hand for the next shot". Making sure it's on the green gives you a par putt, and the worst score you'll make is bogey.

YMMV ....

Thanks for your input and also getting me to look up what YMMV means!

Having played the course so much, there are some holes which historically hurt me and I have learn a strategy to play them, others which I term as good birdie opportunities maybe I take for granted but with current conditions can still have a sting, 3, 4 and 12 are definitely in the later category. On Saturday I was 5 over for the 3 of them!! 

I take Beta Blockers so maybe on golf days I need to double my dose.

 

 

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Watching the 2nd Round of The Scottish Open I'm feeling somewhat better about my game. They are playing in the conditions that have been present for most of the season in Scotland and struggling.

It is our Club Championship tomorrow. My course is about 30 miles up the coast from the Renaissance course  and 600 feet higher in altitude off at 11am forecast is sunny and windy.

 

BTW ordered Zen Golf and waiting for it to arrive. 

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  • 2 weeks later...

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On 7/2/2022 at 7:18 PM, FrogginBullfish said:

Jon Sherman - The Four Foundations of Golf 

I read this book last week and I think it fits the bill of the OP.  Recommended.

 

One part talks about realistic expectations, another part covers a simple method of course management.  Put the two together and a lot of the OPs frustrations should be minimized.  
 

Available on Amazon/Kindle.  

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5 hours ago, alfriday101 said:

I read this book last week and I think it fits the bill of the OP.  Recommended.

 

One part talks about realistic expectations, another part covers a simple method of course management.  Put the two together and a lot of the OPs frustrations should be minimized.  
 

Available on Amazon/Kindle.  

Getting thru Zen Golf at the moment and then The 4  Foundations of Golf is next.

 

Used a few of the techniques in Zen Golf and they have helped, some others not so much. The section on thoughts and awareness I think is particularly apted, not just in golf but life in general.

When I have a drink the family wait until the "4 Beer Dad" comes out. That tends to be the time that my awareness disappears. 

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  • 2 weeks later...

Another +1 on Jon Sherman's "The Four Foundations of Golf"!

Jon's website Practical Golf is also full of great articles.

Another really excellent (imo) resource for the mental game is ... David Mackenzie's site, "Golf State of Mind".

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