Tag Archives: golf psychology

The reality of every golf shot that you hit – part two


“Playing golf is a little like carving a turkey. It helps if you have your slice under control.”Bob Orben

By Ian Hardie

In the article The reality of every golf shot that you hit I asked you to take a moment to consider a simple question:

What was the reality of the moment as you were reading the article?

For most of you, your first thought would have been ‘Duh Ian – it’s obvious – I’m reading!’ but the reality was that reading was only one of many things that were going on in your world at that point in time

It would have been extremely unlikely that you were ‘only focussing on reading’ simply because if you are like most people you would have had

A bunch of other thoughts swirling around in your mind at the same time

Thoughts that you may not have been consciously aware of but subconsciously they were there in the background all combining to create your reality at that point in time

Not only that but your brain would also have been processing the vast amounts of information that it constantly gathers from your environment during every one of the 1440 minutes that you have available to you during a single day

Of the 20 to 30,000 days or so that most people have available to them in their lives

Information such as what the current temperature is both inside and outside of your body, what sounds are vibrating around you, your current state of hydration and your blood sugar levels, the aromas and other particles that are in the air you are breathing – to name a few

Not to mention the effects of other things like the forces of gravity, barometric pressure and if you believe some people’s ideas – it’s also monitoring lunar forces, magnetism, cosmic rays and solar flares

Just take a minute or two to consider those points above again

All of those things are constantly going on in the background as you experience what you believe is ‘reality’ for that minute or two when you are ‘simply reading something’

These same things are all going on when you go to hit a golf shot – with a few extras thrown in of course and it’s those extras – that make the game of golf the challenge it is for all us

To illustrate this I’d like you to take a good look at the image at the start of this post

It’s an image of the Par 3 – 15th hole of the golf course that I learnt the game on

Not a long Par 3 by anyone’s standards at 160 metres or 174 yards but certainly an intimidating one as it requires a shot that must carry the first 120 metres or 131 yards on its way to the green which as you can see is surrounded by trouble

Failure to carry to the other side of the river will almost certainly end up with a lost golf ball in either the river or the fairly dense bush around the edges of it

To say that this hole gives some golfers a problem – would be an understatement

The most common shot that I saw golfers play on it over the years was a reaction to the visual intimidation the hole provides that invariably ended up with the golfer hitting a wild slice that finished across the river bank – followed by them heading back to their golf bag to get another ball!

Let’s take a closer look at the ‘reality’ that the golfer is experiencing while standing on that 15th tee getting ready to hit their shot on the hole

All of the things I talked about earlier will be running in the golfer’s brain while at the same time the golfer will be consciously thinking about how to set themselves up, where to aim, where they should position the golf ball – not to mention the myriad of other thoughts

That most golfers have in their heads prior to hitting each golf shot

It’s at about this point that most people would suggest this is the ‘reality’ of a golf shot but it’s not fully – as there is a bunch more stuff going on that the golfers brain is of course monitoring silently in the background

For a start on this particular tee – there is the constant sound of the river running past with the occasional trout surfacing

Depending on the time of day there can be a sand-fly or two eagerly feasting on the golfers skin

Every once in a while, the golfer may hear the sound of a golf ball landing on the ground behind them – as the fairway on the previous hole (the 14th) plays right past the 15th tee or if it’s not a golf ball that they hear

It may be the footsteps of a golfer or two coming past, the sound of their voices as they discuss whatever it is golfers talk about, the sound that their golf clubs make as they gently bang together in the bag as they walk past or the most noticeable of all

A slightly squeaky wheel from their golf trundler

If the golfer is concentrating intently – they may be able to ‘block all that out’ but more often than not – doing that only brings nature back into the equation

As when the golfer looks towards the green to focus their aim they slowly become aware of both the feeling and the vision of the river’s movement

I can recall that awareness popping into my head many times on that tee!

Maybe it isn’t the visual aspect that they become aware of but instead it’s the sounds emanating from the bush and forest on the other side of the river that they hear

The constant sound of the insects and birds that make their home around the tee or the noises that come from the forest across the river such as chainsaws, falling trees, logging trucks and the occasional helicopter flying overhead can be fairly distracting

So too can the smell of the surrounding flora and fauna or the irritation that pollen drifting by in the air can provide the golfer – something that you may not have ever thought of but it can certainly play a part in the golfer’s reality

On top of all that there is the underlying fear of hitting the ball into the water

Something that the golfer may have generated after seeing the visual intimidation of the gaping chasm that has to be crossed or by remembering what happened last time they hit their golf ball into the sand trap that guards the left hand side of the green (you can’t see that in the image if you were wondering)

The fear of having chosen the wrong club to play the shot which inevitably results in the golf ball flying over the green into the bush at the back – ending up just as lost as if it was hit in the water – is normally present in most golfers minds as well

And then just before the golfer starts their backswing…………………….

I’m going to finish there for now but don’t for a minute think that is all that is going on during every golf shot that you hit – there’s still more things that are going on in which I will take a look at in ‘The reality of every golf shot that you hit – part three’ soon

Until then

Play well


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