Golf Psychology - What is Golf's Mental Game
In this quick start guide to GLT Golf’s Golf Psychology series, we will provide a brief look at 3 psychological characteristics of excellence, why some golfers fail to develop these characteristics and how these golf psychology skills help you as you attack golf’s mental game.
Of all the skills elite golfers possess, three stand out as essential from a golf psychology point of view: a growth mindset, automation and chunking.
To discuss these characteristics properly, lets start by addressing the evil that makes them necessary: stress. When it comes to golf’s mental game, stress is Public Enemy Number One. Why, you ask? When golfers become stressed, the body tightens and movements become stiff and forced. In turn, this causes the body to attempt to cope, which leads to overcompensation and further poor play… which leads to more stress, and the cycle repeats and continues.
With that in mind, the question now becomes how can golfers develop a stronger mental game to combat stress before it strikes. And the answer, at the risk of oversimplification, is by honing psychological characteristics of excellence (a growth mindset, automation and chunking.)
Growth Mindset - A very important mental process involved in skill development.
When golfers, golf students and golf educators have a growth mindset, they understand that skills can be developed. Students focus on improvement instead of worrying about current ability and results. They work hard to learn, improve, and take advantage of physical and mental adaptability.
Chunking - A very important mental process involved in shot analysis.
The psychological process of chunking is a memory mechanism where a person gathers individual pieces of information and binds them together into a meaningful whole.
Automation - A non-conscious action. A very important mental process involved in shot execution.
A player that has the ability to chunk and automate is more likely to get their Thoughts and Feelings to match their Intentions when executing a golf shot. The players intentions will be (generally) to hit a good shot, so their thoughts and feelings matching this intention will increase the chance of the good shot coming to fruition. However, it is very rare that we stumble across a golfer who has this psychological ability.
In the next article in this series, we will take a look at a player with arguably the strongest mental game of golf over the last quarter century, and examine how he was able to master golf psychology.