The Mental Game Paradox

How important is the mental game to your success as a golfer? If I asked you to rate your answer on a scale of 1-10, with 10 being “very important”, what number would you pick? Over the years, I have asked many golfers that very question, and thanks to a recent survey of Junior Golf Hub members, I was able to increase the sample size even more.  Here’s what Hub members reported:

Of the Hub members that responded (n=149), 58% rated the mental game as a 10, or “very important” to their success. Overall, the average rating was 9.14. These results are very consistent with what I have found in the past; golfers truly value the mental game and greatly attribute it to their success. Now here’s the paradox.
It’s clear that when you ask golfers how important the mental game is, they say it’s important. One would then assume that since they value the mental game so highly that golfers would regularly practice the mental game. However, you might be surprised by what they say when you ask them. And that’s what we did!

As you can see in the above chart, when we ask the same Hub members how often they practiced the mental game, only 5.5% of those surveyed reported they “always” practice the mental game while 17.5% reported that they “never” practice it. Playing with the data a bit more, if you combine the “never”, “rarely” and “sometimes” groups, you get 78% of respondents who don’t seem to prioritize something they deem highly important to their success as players. 
Why is it that we see tremendous value in the mental game yet rarely ever practice the very thing that we know will make a significant difference both in our performance on the golf course and in our overall enjoyment of the game? Are we all golfers closet masochists who found a wonderfully unique and effective way to suffer? Although there are many golfers who might agree with that statement, myself being one of them, I think there are a few more rational reasons why the mental game is neglected. However, before I share them with you, I’d love to hear why you think this paradox exists. If you’re interested in contributing your thoughts as to why this paradox exists in golf, please take this Mental Game Paradox survey and let me know what you think. We are sharing the same survey with Hub members so stay tuned for the results!