A+ A A-
09 Nov

My Brain Just Hurts... So Don't Think!

It's no secret that there's more to golf than the golf swing. Even if you have a beautiful swing, that's no guarantee that it won't desert you at the crucial time you need it the most.

That's what happens to all those professionals at the Masters when they arrive at the shortaugusta 12th hole 12th hole in the heart of Amen Corner. There, in front of all those spectators, the mind starts to race...and race.

It's a dinky shot by ordinary standards, but the fear in their minds makes it into a demon. The creek looms large because they know the bank is so closely mowed that the ball can easily roll back in the water of Rae's Creek.

Top players are not afraid of bunkers, and sometimes they aim for them to avoid other risks. But the back bunkers on #12 at Augusta National are something else again... they're "what if" bunkers. They figure into the fear factor because when escaping from the bunker a bladed shot can easily cross the green and drown in Rae's Creek. So what happens if the ball does go in? They often  play safe and come out short. Hello, bogie!

Even the azaleas are a potential fear factor. Greg Norman stood on the tee in this year's Masters and watched his tee shot land in the azaleas. Then, with no shortage of help, the ball couldn't be found. It was a credit to Greg's tenacity that he followed with a "two" for a bogie.

And then there is fear of the unknown. The pros know the distance, but they don't know what the wind will do. So they try to steer the ball, or they overpower it, or they do something else that is a no-no.

And finally, there is the putting. One of the old timers who played in the first Masters, Errie Ball, recalls hitting his tee shot to three feet from the cup on the 16th (then the third hole). After his usual pre shot routine (placing the putter in front of the ball, then in back of it) hegolf brain simply froze. Couldn't make a stroke. Finally, he jabbed the ball so hard it rolled off the green and into the front hazard. Brain lock.

Golfers ever are in a constant battle with their thoughts.

To get control over your thoughts, consider C. W. Bailey's adivce in the book The Brain and Golf (1923).  Within he writes about the role of the central nervous system in golf. The central nervous system has in the grey matter of the brain millions of nerve cells and fibres (neurones), each a perfectly definite unit in itself and with the innate power of getting into connection with other neurones to form neurone chains... The place of joining, where the end of one neurone meets the beginning of another, is called a synapse. Nerve activity follows well-known laws, and golf and skill depend upon them. It is an accepted fact that nerve activity takes the path of least resistance, i.e., the line of easiest connection. Successive nervous discharges break down the resistance of the synapses  So, according to Bailey, frequent "messages" formed in practice are the best preparation for controlling nerves.

So how did he suggest you practice?  He advocated golf without clubs, through eurhythmics.. you know what that is don't you? Specifically, he advocated eurhythmics as a way of training in pivoting, balance, and keeping the head steady. It might be done in classes and done to music. The Barcarole in "Tales of Hoffman" suggests itself as a suitable rhythym. The strong stress where the word love occurs in the musical phrase to the words, "Night of love", etc, should be associated with the downward swing.  Enough said.

the mental side of golf details 90x90Charles Moore, the Mental Side of Golf (1929), pointed out that hazards are an integral part of the game of golf.   He wasn't writing about the course, he was describing mental hazards: The Hazard of Worry, the Hazard of Haste, the Hazard of Inattention, the Hazard of Distraction, the Hazard of Discouragement, the Hazard of Indecision, the Hazard of Temper, the Hazard of Fatigue, and the Hazard of Fear.

He wrote that the mastery of fear could be attained through replacing negative thoughts with positive thoughts. In place of saying to yourself, I won't slice this shot, think, I'll cover the flag all the way.

the mental side of golf 1947 cover 90x90Kenneth Thompson, The Mental Side of Golf (1947), claimed that relaxation was a key, especially after an emotional shot. Relaxation comes about by letting the muscles go limp, letting it go ...Continual or habitual tenseness in sport brings on fatigue just as much as deep and applied concentration in business.

Thompson added that the player who has the ability to concentrate on one shot at a time with singleness of thought, and to keep his mind from wandering, throughout the round, without a mental lapse, is the player who will be the champion...

the mystery of golf unopened pages 120x120Arnold Haultain, the author of The Mystery of Golf (1908) summed it up when he wrote: "Three things there are as unfathomable as they are fascinating toplay like we are young the masculine mind: metaphysics, golf and the feminine heart. The Germans, I believe, pretend to have solved some of the riddles of the first, and the French, to have unravelled some of the mysteries of the last; will some one tell us wherein lies the extraordinary fascination of golf?" (Editor's note: the original owner of this treasured book never even dared to open it!)

The answer, of course, is it's all in the mind.  Or maybe it's simplier... maybe we need only go bac to playing this game as though we're kids.  No scar (scared) tissue!

Last modified on Saturday, 02 February 2013 04:44
Rate this item
(0 votes)

Scott’s Profile: A native Northern Californian with a deep love for pacific coast golf courses.  Favorites: Olympic Club, Spyglass, and Pebble Beach.  First golf memory: Introduced to golf at age 3 with a wooden shafted putter (while on a family vacation to Calgary),the putter didn’t make it home in one piece – broken after chasing a gopher down a hole.  Inspirational golf personality: as a kid captivated by many superstars of the 70s and 80s, ultimate inspiration was Arnold Palmer.  Current passion in golf: a slowed competitive ambition, and a love for learning, exploring and appreciating the finer points in golf. Favorite golf activity: traveling abroad and meeting new people, share a love for the game, and of course exploring both new and classic golf courses.  Hole-in-one count: 6. Handicap: a debatable 1.0 index.  College: USF

(*) required information where indicated. For security we ask that you register to comment, thank you.

Please move these puzzle pieces to match the image.

Login or Register