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The worst reason for not working on your mental game?

The worst reason for not working on your mental game?


The current paradigm for learning how to play golf primarily emphasizes swing mechanics and technique. The secondary emphasis falls on putting and short-game techniques. Improving your golfing abilities is supposed to come through dogged practice, i.e. hitting lots of balls while focused on those techniques.

Not only is this paradigm seriously flawed but the variety of techniques for any aspect of the physical game is truly staggering. No one today is teaching the swing techniques of Jim Furyk, Lee Trevino, Arnold Palmer or Allen Doyle -- yet they have had and/or are having great success at golf's top levels.

Certainly you need some physical foundation skills but the overemphasis on technique and never-ending pursuit of physical perfection is actually quite damaging and inefficient when it comes to increasing performance. The reasons are based on our physiology and evolution.

When you focus your attention on the mechanics of the golf swing or the chipping motion or the putting stroke, you are engaging your left brain. The left hemisphere of your brain is good at logic and mathematics -- but it is not athletic. In fact, it's a klutz. To compound this un-athletic ability, consider that it takes approximately 250 milliseconds, or .25 seconds, for the brain to send instruction and receive feedback from the muscle group involved. This is called "Closed Loop" functioning. It happens when you try to control your movements. The golf swing takes anywhere from .93 to 1.23 seconds from takeaway to impact. This means you don't have enough time to effectively control multiple movements (or act on the multiple swing thoughts meant to trigger those movements) during the swing.

When you practice the same moves over and over on the range, you can use your left brain to make the same movements each time and work into good shots, focusing on a few mechanical thoughts. However, this left brain mechanical practice will not translate to the golf course -- where you have to play it right the first time. Players often wonder why they "leave their best shots on the range." Well the natural limits of "Closed Loop" functioning and their reduced Left Brain athleticism are the reasons why.

Lets forget about the left brain and start using the right brain to focus on “The Process” to move the ball from point “A” to “B”. Try it, it works.

Bob Shirey, PGA, is a certified GolfPsych instructor and can be reached at 805-286-2590 or This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..