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 Changing The Golf Course In Your Mind 
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Post Changing The Golf Course In Your Mind
Changing The Golf Course In Your Mind
by: Steven Latham

Ever played a golf hole and thought..’this is a stupid hole, the position they’ve put that bunker in, or the way they’ve mown the rough, doesn’t make sense’? You know what, unless you’re the greenkeeper, you’re not going to change that golf course, but you can change the golf course in your mind. You can change the way you respond to each and every golf shot, you can change the way you feel over each and every golf shot, and as a result, you can influence the outcome of each and every golf shot, whether it’s a putt, a chip, or a long drive.

A gentleman by the name of Korzybski is famous for identifying the distinction between the world and our representations of the world. As Korzybski described, we all have internal maps of the world that we use to make sense of it, but the interesting thing is ‘The map is not the territory’…meaning, our internal representations of the external world are not actually the world, but merely a map of it. Sometimes this map is useful and sometimes it’s not, but always, and I mean always, the map is only that, a map, and not the world itself.

As a junior golfer I can remember listening to the advice of a very accomplished player at my local club. In fact, he had represented his country (Australia) on many occasions, and had played with almost all the world’s best players including Greg Norman and Tiger Woods. The course I was a member at was only a par 62 and by Australian course standards, was below average in design, length and condition. Many visitors, sometimes accomplished payers, would often complain about the course design and condition, but the particular accomplished player at my club, and his younger brother, who was also an excellent player and later tour professional, would say two things I can remember over and over again ‘Steve, on any given day, the course is the same for everyone, same length, same pin placements, same condition’, and ‘If you can play here (referring to when the course was not in good condition’ you can play anywhere!’

The quotes above are an example of how a players perceptions, the golf course in their own minds, has a tremendous influence on how they will succeed, or otherwise, on playing the actual golf course. Allow me to give you another example of two golfers playing the same hole, a tree lined par 4, and how the two players perceive the treeline fairway. Read the two examples and then think about which golfer is likely to play the hole better:

Golfer A: I need to hit it in the fairway because those trees are thick, and if I hit it behind one I’ll have no shot, and will be looking at a bogey.

Golfer B: The trees look like the outside lines of a funnel that help direct my attention to the fairway. The make it easier to line up.

Clearly Golfer B will be in a more empowered position to play the hole well.

On every golf shot you hit, the way you perceive the shot will influence your execution of it.

Consider for a moment the short game. Is a slope infront of the green an obstacle?….or an aide to give you something to bounce the ball into to take speed off the ball? Are fast greens tricky?.....or do they make it easier for you to hole putts because you only need to guide the ball on the correct path for it to go in. If a study was conducted of what was going on inside a golfers mind prior to a shot, the results would show that how the golfer perceives the shot, and how they think about it, has a profound influence over the shot execution.

Often how we perceive each shot is outside of conscious awareness, or ‘unconscious/subconscious’. Rather than trying to change how you’re thinking on the golf course, which is almost impossible, I recommend you change how you’re thinking after the round, during your post game review. If you notice a thought pattern that’s less than useful on the golf course, flag it, and come back to it following the round. Below is a simple 3 step process you can use to change less than optimal thinking:

1) Note what your thought process has been?

2) Imagine watching yourself playing the shot as though you’re watching yourself on television. Now think to yourself: what other options do I have here? What other more useful ways can I think about playing this shot?

3) What needs to happen for me to reinforce this new way of thinking?

I use another method when working one on one with clients. It is a state changing game I’ve developed inline with New Code NLP game design variables. The game will automatically change a person’s state and provide them with more fluid thinking for similar future situations. It involves the activation of both brain hemispheres, parallel processing and the stimulation of all 3 major representational systems (visual, auditory and kinaesthetic). If you’re interested in my attention games, please consult me via the resource box in this article.

About The Author
Steven Latham is a Golf Psychology Coach. For a FREE copy of chapter 1 of his Golf Psychology Drill Book please visit
The author invites you to visit:

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Wed Feb 16, 2011 11:28 am
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