Play To Play Great
By Dr. Bob Rotella
Golf is a game of confidence and competence. I am not about to tell anyone that a player who lacks physical skills can transform overnight into a winner by changing his thinking. If you trust a bad swing, it’s still going to produce bad shots. (Though it will produce fewer of them than if you don’t trust it.) You have to attain a level of physical competence to play well.
Having said that, I believe it’s impossible to overestimate the importance of the mind in golf. There is no such thing as “muscle memory.” Your muscles have no capacity to remember anything. Memory resides in your head. Therefore, no matter how long you practice a golf swing, no matter how skilled you become, your muscles alone can’t remember it and execute it when the need arises on the golf course. Your muscles and the rest of your body are controlled by your mind. Unless your mind is functioning well when you play golf, your muscles are going to flounder. If your head is filled with bad thoughts, your scorecard is going to be full of bad strokes.
Having control of your mind and using it properly can separate you from the competition, whether it’s at your club or on the PGA Tour. I believe every golfer has the potential to be much better than he or she is, and that using the mind is one essential way to improve. You will never know if you have the ability to be the best player in the world, or the best player in your club, unless you commit yourself to developing both your physical and mental skills.
There’s a fine line between playing to play great and playing recklessly. Reckless players hit driver off virtually every tee. They fire at sucker pins they have no business aiming at, because they’re convinced that’s what playing to play great is all about. It isn’t. Golfers who are playing to play great love a great drive more than they fear the rough. They like making putts more than they care about three-putting. They love chipping it in more than they loathe not getting up and down. But they may have a conservative strategy for certain holes. The conservative strategy is what permits them to always make a confident, even cocky swing. When the moment is right, when they’ve got a scoring club in their hands, they take dead aim at the hole. But only when the moment is right.
Players who play to play great understand that good can be the enemy of great. They know that if they get too concerned about not being bad, they might not free themselves up enough to be great. They don’t care very much about making cuts or top-20 finishes. They play to win.
‘Every golfer has the potential to be much better than he or she is, and using the mind is one essential way to improve.’
If they do this, they control their destiny as a golfer. I want clients to understand this. They have free will. The choices they make with that free will determine the quality of their golf game and the quality of their lives. If you consistently make the right choices, you’re destined for greatness. I’m not suggesting that this means you’re going to win all the Grand Slam tournaments or all your club events or even all your Saturday-morning nassaus. I’m saying that if you make the right choices, you will someday look back on your life, or that part of your life that was devoted to golf, and say, “Wow! That was great.”
Having control of your mind and using it properly can separate you from the competition, whether it’s at your club or on the PGA Tour.
Congratulations to the Harlow Golf club from the great state of Georgia for raising over $7,000 for the No Child Without fund. NCW provides young people across the world with funds to access educational and extra-curricular opportunities that may be beyond their means. This small golf club is a great example of how a small fundraising effort can make a big difference. Way to go!
In Another’s Words
Every golfer has the potential to be much better than he or she is, and using the mind is one essential way to improve.
– Dr. Bob Rotella (PGA Golf Coach – 74 major wins)