The Right Mind

Feature Article

The Right Mind

By Michael Riggs, with Bob Rotella

So, what is “the right mind” for playing competitive golf?

Golf mental 3While there are many elements to “The Right Mind,” one particular ingredient comes to mind right away – learning to stay in the moment by keeping your cool on the course.

There is possibly no other sport that requires a calmness of mind and emotion more than golf. An excellent golf swing is one of tempo and fluidity – rigidity and forcefulness are the enemy to a great swing. When a player becomes angered or frustrated on the course, it is a foregone conclusion that his swing will become choppy and stiff. He stops swinging the club and begins to hit the ball. There is a difference.

As Dr. Bob Rotella puts it, I view anger and frustration as impediments to playing the game as well as you can. For starters, if you’re angry, you’re not focused on the only shot that matters, your next one. On top of that, anger introduces tension into the body. Tension damages rhythm and grace. It hinders your effort to get your mind and body into the state where you play your best golf.”

Think back on the last round you played when you became upset or angered. At the moment when you were upset, what was your mind on? Was it completely focused on the shot at hand, or were you rethinking a previous mis-hit or a squandered birdie? Anger and frustration are the byproduct of a mind that is stuck in the past. Great golf is played in the present – the here and now.

All great players know the simple truth that to play their best they must let go of error and stay calm and focused on the shot at hand. This requires a commitment to play mentally, emotionally, and physical composed. A real challenge for all players is to let nothing bother or upset them on the golf course, and when they do they will be in a great state of mind for every shot.

Rotella also prefers his clients practice a virtue that’s not fashionable at the moment. He wants them to accept whatever happens to a shot and move on.

“Most people have been brought up in a culture that views acceptance as a weakness rather than a strength. It’s viewed as giving in, giving up, not caring. It’s definitely not very macho. We live in a society that talks proudly about “zero defects” and “zero tolerance.” To an ambitious golfer, the natural tendency becomes refusal to accept mistakes. But in golf, because humans are flawed and the game is so difficult, mistakes are going to happen. Accepting them is not a weakness. It’s an important part of getting stronger and mentally tougher, a part of resilience, of being able to hang in there during a round, of recovering from errors and finishing with a good score.”

Becoming a mature golfer means moving in the direction of letting nothing – nothing – affect you negatively during a round. Regardless of the outcome, the mature and mentally fit player simply accepts the shot and moves on to the next. He does this from his first swing to his last putt.

S² Tip

Learn to stay in the monent and keep your cool on the golf course. Relax and have fun one shot at a time!

Success Story

Congratulations to client Martin Laird on your come from behind victory at the Texas Open. Way to keep you cool and play one-shot-at-a-time.

In Another’s Words

Go play golf. Go to the golf course. Hit the ball. Find the ball. Repeat until the ball is in the hole. Have fun. The end.

– Chuck Hogan