Golf and Your Mental Game: That Voice in Your Head That Never Shuts Up

Do you hear that voice in your head that is often judging, nagging, criticizing or analyzing? Can you silence this voice at least momentarily? Indeed you can and its through meditation where by practice you realize that voice is nothing but a barbarian at the gate and you are left in a rare moment of tranquility where all you have is your breathing and an awareness of your entire body. Your mind welcomes such a break.

But we can’t meditate ourselves out of the world unless of course you are a Buddhist monk.

What voice is shadowing your mind on the golf course?

There is the self-critic ready to start chattering and dissing you with that not-so-great shot. How long it chatters may be up to you. I tend to ignore it and it shuts up! It tortures you if you let it. I should have laid up. I should have gone for the green. I should have clubbed own by one. I should have realized I had a bad angle and shot under the branches instead of trying to go over them.

Then there is the backward coach which instead of coaching us how to improve our game incessantly tells us what we can’t do. Don’t go over the water and lay up. It prevents us from challenging ourselves and experimenting with our game and leaves us in a sameness rut.  Go ahead an occasion challenge that backward coach.

And there is the hungry voice that tells us we need something but really we only want something. With want there is more choice than needing. The needy voice has a tendency to have you always asking for more. Yes you must go for the green!

Then there is the voice that tends to see danger and threats everywhere almost always over the top. Don’t use a three iron lightly to go under the branches as it can’t work so go over the trees. This voice is almost guaranteed to ruin your game.

Remember that voice chattering away in your noggin tries to have you believe what it is saying is a fact but in reality it may be nothing more than a thought. Many thoughts are completely untrue or partially true.

Remember you are the golfer so recognize the different voices then make a choice whether to heed them or not instead of being ruled by them. You are on the course now and you have the power to be satisfied with your game without those voices.

I will leave you with an example. I had a second shot on the 6th hole. I have been in the same position a few times and I have not managed to get the loft to go over the trees but hit them and dropped. So I decided a couple of times to try and go low under the branches. On the second try a hard blast that just nicked the lower branches and dropped. That critical voice began nagging me about poor club selection and the stupidity of trying to challenge the trees. But the shot was brilliant and it was only a matter of inches that prevented to shot from being on the green. I ignored the voice and yes I was happy with the shot and my strategy in making it. An errant shot need not always put you in the doghouse. I told that voice to shut up and it did. In defeat there can be dignity! I coached hockey for 7 years and our team won four championships. But one year we had staged a massive comeback of 4 goals in the third period of a championship game to tie it with 30 seconds left. We lost the game in overtime which I thought would be devastating but those kids taught me a lesson about defeat. They were sky high with delight and accomplishment with such an astonishing comeback. The locker room was joyous. In defeat there can be joy. The result on your scorecard may be not what you wished but the journey to that score may be joyous. You conquered some very difficult holes but screwed up on all the par threes. Take the good and surf with it.

You are dealing with strategy and risk on just about every shot you make on a golf course. Do you want that voice putting additional pressure on you? You have been playing golf for years many of you so trust your experience over your voices. For newer golfers you are trying to “find your game”. On occasion that voice may be truly coaching you but more often than not it can be playing on your insecurity and lack of confidence.

Published by Robert K Stephen (CSW)

Robert K Stephen writes about food and drink, travel, and lifestyle issues. He is one of the few non-national writers to be certified as a wine specialist by the Society of Wine Educators, in Washington, DC. Robert was the first associate member of the Wine Writers’ Circle of Canada. He also holds a Mindfulness Certification from the University of Leiden and the University of Toronto. Be it Spanish cured meat, dried fruit, BBQ, or recycled bamboo place mats, Robert endeavours to escape the mundane, which is why he has established this publication. His motto is, "Have Story, Will Write."

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