Is Golf Really a “Mental” Game?
I hear so many people repeat a statement that might very well be as old as the sport itself, “Golf is such a mental game.” Who hasn’t heard that, right? Is this really true though? The great Bobby Jones said, “Competitive golf is played mainly on a five-and-a-half-inch course, the space between your ears.” Indeed, some have compared golf to chess, noting that without a cerebral element a golfer will invariably fail.
While this may have some validity, let me for a moment declare the reality. Golf cannot be defined as predominantly a test of one’s mind if the individual attempting to play it has yet to develop the physical traits necessary to compete. I contend that golf is purely a physical test, up until that point at which one has reasonably mastered some of the required skills. In order to reach a level of competitiveness to relate to Jones’ remark, one does not have to become a top notch amateur or a tour professional.
However, I think that one needs to look the part. No, I do not mean that by wearing the latest fashions from Ashworth, Nike, or Adidas an individual qualifies to be a “real” golfer. Every single person who picks up a golf club already possesses the ability to grip like a pro. Each of us has the ability to address the ball as a pro does. Everyone has it within him or her to have the same great posture as a tour player. Anyone anywhere has the chance to have a correct understanding of ball position as any single golfer who plays for a living. The world’s elite players have absolutely zero advantage over you in regards to these crucial pre-swing characteristics.
If you struggle with consistent ball striking, maybe you simply stand too far from the golf ball. Perhaps, your grip is too weak and your stance is too wide. If you are inconsistent, it may just be possible that you have your hands positioned incorrectly in relation to the golf ball and your body. If your issues are directly tied to one or more of these basic fundamentals, then how, too, can you cry “golf is completely mental”?
The truth is that most have such a difficult time on the golf course, because they put themselves in a position from which controlling the clubface and making a good, solid, balanced swing is virtually impossible.
So, the diagnosis is that a clearly visible physical problem exists, not a mental one. The remedy is rather simple, actually. Go back to the basics. Sound familiar? It should. Almost as familiar as Yogi Berra’s famous description of his sport of choice, “Baseball is ninety percent mental. The other half is physical.” You need not try to figure that one out. It all comes down to learning the proper set-up and posture of a “pro.” Anyone can do it. Yes, even you!