The Goofy Game of Golf Searching for the Answer

This week I am going to discuss the mind-body connection. First lets look at one of the biggest mind-body disconnects in the history of golf. It happened in one of the most memorable majors of all time, the 1986 Masters. We are going to look at only two players, Jack Nicklaus and Seve Ballesteros, and one hole, the par 5 15th. So lets look at the timeline.

Nicklaus is on the 15th tee and Seve is on the 13th green with about an 8 foot eagle putt. At this moment Jack is -5 and Seve is -7.

Jack hits a great drive right down the middle and as he is walking down the fairway, Seve makes the eagle putt to go nine under par.

Jack is 204 from the pin and hits a 4 iron within 12 feet and makes the putt for an eagle to go to -7

Seve hits the drive of the day on 15 and is only 198 yards from the hole. Nicklaus has birdied 16 to go -8 and is trailing by 1 shot.

Seve also takes out a 4 iron and makes a horrible swing and pull hooks the ball right in the middle of the lake, not even close and goes on to make a bogey, which is a 3 shot swing on this one hole.

Jack Nicklaus goes on to win the Masters with a birdie on 17. Even though Seve and his caddie, who happened to be his brother, had plenty of time to make the decision on a club selection for the second shot into 15, there was enough doubt to cause the mind-body disconnect. The result was a very bad swing and an even worse result. Lets say that Seve was absoulutely sure that 4 iron was the right club. He was totally committed to the shot. His mind and body were perfectly in sync. What would have been the result. He would have smoked that 4 iron and quite possibly would have flown the green and maybe would have even put the ball in the back lake. But he would have hit a solid shot. That is the difference when the mind and body are connected and when they are not. The mind-body connection does not mean that you are never going to hit a bad shot or miss a putt. It does not mean that you are going to go out every time and be in the mythical zone. The Zone is another subject all together. What the mind-body connection does mean, is that it gives you the ability to execute the present shot or stroke to the best of your ability. How is this accomplished? I do not know. Over the next few weeks, I am going to give more examples of the mind-body disconnect, discusss if this mind-body connection even exists, and talk about a lot of theory.



The Goofy Game of Golf Searching for the Answer

It’s freezing in the Burgh with no let up in sight. We have had some brief moments in January where you could get out and play, but it has either been raining when the temperatures have risen, or I just couldn’t get out because of prior commintments. In recent blogs I discussed the first four mental A’s, Anxiety, Anger, Acceptance, and Awareness.  Today I am going to discusss the final mental A, Adjustment. When you are playing this game there will be two adjustments you will have to make.

THE BIG ADJUSTMENT:  This adjustment is related to getting out of bed. How do you feel. How is the weather. How has your week been going. How is this golf day going to go. Many times, things can go badly right at the outset. Here in Western Pa., despite what you are told on TV, the weather is very unpredictable. You may go to bed expecting one thing and get up seeing another. You may go to bed feeling fine and get up with a headache, a stiff back, or just not feeling right. When you get to the course there may have been an unexpected delay, or somebody in your group is late. These are all things you must be ready to deal with if you are going to get the most out of your golf game. Its almost always a bad thing if on your golf day, you have a commintment to be at a certain place at a certain time after your round. Sometimes it may be best just not to play. These are things, just to name a few, that have nothing to do with golf, that can have a huge impact on your golf game.   You must be able to adjust your thinking and expectations, depending on how all these variables are impacting your mind.

the small adjustment: This is the adjustment you must make on a shot to shot basis. As you go through your routine for each shot, chip, and putt, you must feel that you are totally ready to execute the stroke. If you feel misaligned, your address position is bad, or there is doubt about the stroke in any form, then your chance of executing a good shot is remote. Getting in that “just hit it anyway” mode will spell disaster. That’s the mode when you feel that something just isn’t quite right, but you hit it anyway.

There are your two adustments that you are going to have to make if you are going to play to the best of your ability. Now lets look at how the other four A’s affect this.

The bad A’ s: Anger and Anxiety. If your upset or anxious about things going on outside of your golf life, then the BIG ADJUSTMENT will be always difficult to do. Depending on how things are going it may be best not to play until these things can be dealt with. You must find a way to block these things out to really enjoy your game and do your best. If you get angry or anxious over the results of your shots then the small adjustment will very rarely be accomplished.

The good A’s: Acceptance and Awareness. If you are aware and accept the fact that many times life is not perfect, and can deal effectively with life’s challenges, then THE BIG ADJUSTMENT will be easier to accomplish. If you can do the same thing with the results of your shots, then the small adjustment will become part of your game.

Next week I will begin discussing the mind-body connection, by writing about what I consider the biggest mind-body disconnect in the history of golf, at one of the most memorable tournaments of all time. Meanwhile stay warm, and by the way, instead of coming up with these catchy names, like POLAR VORTEX, why don’t you just figure out a way to predict the weather better, WEATHER CHANNEL See you next week.

The Goofy Game of Golf Searching for the Answer

Well, 2014 is here, and after 35 bowl games I am ready to get back into golf. This week I am going discuss the fourth A, anxiety. Anxiety is the most complex of the 4 A’s. First we need to get to some definitions.

Anxiety: Concern or solicitude respecting some thing or event, future or uncertain, which disturbs the mind, and keeps it in a state of painful uneasiness.

Fear: A painful emotion or passion excited by the expectation of evil, or the apprehension of impending danger.

The reason I gave those definitions, is I think we confuse anxiety with fear. There is nothing on the golf course that is going to put us in immediate danger, except lightning,  and we all know that. However fear is the word that is use to describe many failures on the golf course. Afraid to win, fear of short putts and fear of hazards. In reality we are anxious about those situations. In other words fear is a response to something that is real. It’s what keeps us from jumping off the 20th floor or placing are hand on a hot stove. Anxiety is something that is in the future and is percieved. You can have anxiety over your fear of something but you don’t have fear of your anxiety. I told you this was complex.

The number one reason for bad shots in golf, is feeling anxious over the ball and the results of the pending shot. So how do we deal with this? There are lots of standard advice for this, and many of them are not bad. Breathing, staying in the present, thinking of when you made good shots in similiar situations, and slowing down, are some of the better ones. Despite this, everyone has experienced where anxiety has just taken over your game and destroyed a good round, a chance to shoot your best score, or win a big bet. It is the big reason for the yips and the reason the yips continue. I think the solution to the problem goes back to finding the mind body connection. I will write about this in a later blog. For now, one just has to do the best they can with this problem and try to minimize it to the best of one’s ability. Next week I will discuss the final A, adjustment which depends on how well you do awareness and acceptance, and how well you control anger and anxiety.

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