The Golf Performance Center Ridgefield, CT

Golf: To Be or Not To Be Mental?

It was a few years ago but I couldn’t help but reflect on an evening we had with Dr. Rick Jensen at The Golf Performance Center (GPC), a fun learning experience. I believe a few people came away with a better understanding of their game and why golf may not be 95% mental as many psychologists and players may suggest. For those of you that did not attend this event, I will try to give you a taste of what we learned, minus the good humor and illustrations!
I would say we learned, despite our best efforts our brains have something to do with everything we do, consciously or subconsciously. With this being said, the lack of game results is less about our mental skills for most golfers than we would like to give credit. The harsh reality many of you may not have the skills you think you do and are unwilling to admit it. This is not a dig or a knock on you, but reality is we tend to overestimate our golf skills and underestimate the challenge of the game (I call this skill/challenge ratio). Whatever you call it, it is important to realize, we are going to score relatively close to our same numbers or higher based on the effort we put into challenging our weaknesses not our capacity to mentally change our outlook of our situation. What? If I were to put a handicap average for our players at GPC, I would say they are a collective average of 10 hcp and a Player Development Index (PDI) of 58.2, which means a scoring average of 82 give or take 12 shots any given day. There will be marginal gains day in and day out, however the scores will not likely be below 50% of their normal game, 6 shots lower or higher, rarely the full 12 shots in one direction. It doesn’t mean it can’t happen, but in most cases unlikely. With regular PDI assessments and the right practice plans, this can change over time but may not show up instantly.
Amazingly, we still hear 10 handicap players talk about how disappointed they are with having a score of 79 or 85. While it may not be ideal, the fact is, a score like this for a 10 hcp is well within their skill sets. This usually leads to a discussion from a coach to encourage them to be accepting of a score that is within their skill range. It can be a good learning moment as to why a 79 is a good score in a tournament based on circumstance or experiences. Being disappointed leads one to believe golf is more about how the “mental game” may have let you down. Golf isn’t 95% mental, we tend to overlook the fact that the game is hard and to master the skills that create better scores is not a process that should be rushed. Improvement takes all 5 of the 5 Elements of Success, receiving a lot of new information from multiple sources can be more detrimental than good. Be patient, stay the course while developing your skills for the game, if you think it is mental it is probably because you are overestimating your golf skills and underestimating the challenges of playing the game. When this happens, it becomes frustrating with the outcomes on the course, making it easier to undermine your development, instead opting for the quick fix or believe you need to change everything to get better scores.
Admittedly this is when it can become mental. Learn how to accept the challenges of the game, and if you maintain a healthy perspective on developing towards improvements with a process of assessing your game regularly and practicing the right things at the right times you will have more fun and learn that to play your best it requires 100% of your attention and awareness of how your mental game can help you or hurt you. The best way to avoid being “mental” on the course, know your skills, if you have never been or haven’t been PDI assessed in a while, I recommend reaching out to the coaching staff at GPC immediately. Avoid a mental breakdown about your game; if you are confident about your golf skills and have quantifiable proof that it is your mental skills that need the work, call Dr. Josh Brant!
Enjoy Your Journey!