Sep 9 / admin

Is Golf Really All Mental?

One of the most common refrains in the world of golf is that the game is “all in your head” or “it’s 90% mental” or as Bobby Jones famously said “Competitive golf is played mainly on a five-and-a-half-inch course, the space between your ears.”

The quote that I would counter comes from a guy who knows a thing or two about effort:

“You must work very hard to become a natural golfer.”
– Gary Player

I provide my answer to the question in the video below, please leave a comment if you agree and especially if you disagree.  In essence my belief is that while the mind is in charge of the body, it is limited by the extent of the player’s ability on any given day, which is shaped by innate athleticism and most important, by training and experiences.

  • Tom Hickey

    Hi Nick, just to say that what you are doing is a good way of showing most golfers what is actually possible. USGA reckons over 84% of golfers will never have a H’cap of under 18. My interest is specifically in the mental side of sport with golf as my hobby. The reality is that golf is not mostly psychological and any one who plays on a wet windy links here in Ireland will tell you that its a lot more physical than its given credit for. My experience is that it is impossible to put a % value on the influence of mental vs physical except that its both and if you do not become competent at both aspects you will never reach your full potential (whatever that may be). The best players have both aspects of the game comfortably under control (well most of the time) whilst most players do not and are better at one or the other side of the game. A lot of younger players on tour now are physically built like Navy Seals but the chances are that they aren’t ever going to be the next Dustin or Rory or whatever. They have the physique and the technical ability but they will probably never learn the rest because western culture in general does not accept the input of the mind as being quite so important ( dont mean to come across too heavy there but…..). At any level of any sport it is a combination of technical competence and psychological confidence that makes a winner. Golf competitions are not won by playing perfect golf but by playing consistant golf. Thats my two cent worth. Keep up the process and all the best of luck with it. If there is any help I can give you don’t hesitate to shout out.nRegardsnTom Hickey @reallifehypno:disqus

  • Bill Dreger

    Nick, you might find this recent post from my blog interesting. doesn’t deal directly with the “mental vs physical” question, but I suspect you might find find some connections between the lines.

  • admin

    Tom: Great post and I agree with your points. In fact I do place a heavy emphasis on mental training in the model for improvement that I’m building, but I want to be clear on one key point: You can only play as well as your skill allows, and your skill can be limited by physical dysfunction which should be addressed early and often so that you can truly ‘get out of your own way’.

    Keep following the blog and I see you’re following golfprogress on Twitter now, thanks for that.

    Regarding golf fitness there are a lot of misconceptions about who it is important for and what it can and cannot do for a player and I will be addressing these issues in future blogposts. I love the topic and know that there are a lot of myths that need to be busted so players have a clear view of what a golf fitness program should be tailored to achieve.


  • admin

    Bill, thanks for posting, but the link didn’t work for me.

  • Thebirdiehunt

    Nick I think you are right that most golfers are limited by their lack of practice and attention to their physical capabilities and restrictions. u00a0I do, however, believe that their is a very importantu00a0distinctionu00a0to make between getting yourself ready to play and actually playing. u00a0Proper physical preparation is KEY for any golfer to make serious progress in their game, but once they are on the course and playing a round they have to be able to “get out of their own way” and allow themselves the opportunity to succeed. u00a0Theu00a0distinctionu00a0between preparation and actual play is huge in this discussion. u00a0Golfers need to spend a healthy amount of time working on their swings in order to understand their limitations. u00a0Once they understand those limitations they can work to remedy the things that are holding them back (i.e. TPI & strength training), but once that first ball is teed up most golfers would benefit in a huge way by playing the swing they have that day and letting go. u00a0Just my thoughts, but I love the discussion. u00a0Keep it up.

  • Scorzone56

    True in what you say.u00a0 I understand where you are coming from.u00a0 The 99%er’s lack a firm understanding of developing skills.u00a0 Not their fault!u00a0 Unfortunately, this is the fault of many so-called golf instructors. u00a0 Golf instructors have fallen into the habit of providing “lessons,” and never really getting into developing repeatable motor skills.u00a0 Golf is NOT all mental and NOT all physical.u00a0 It is the both faculties working together to improve skills and quantify potential.u00a0 Cannot have one functioning without the other.u00a0 The key point here, is truly understanding the role of deliberate practice and just not repeating meaningless range sessions.u00a0 Seek out golf “improvement” instructors and not golf “lesson” instructors.u00a0 Hope this helps….scorzone56!u00a0 Question for you and the over 90% of golfers out there: are you willing to go in your golf training where you never have gone before?u00a0

  • admin

    Scorezone56: Thanks for that great reply, I completely concur. Do you have a website? If so feel free to list it.