So, you want to beat Tiger Woods on the golf course, do ya? Not impossible, but sure feels like it! There are things you can do to play better than Tiger. Hey, Tiger is only human, too. Even the great Tiger Woods has been known to shank a golf shot (see the video). If you’re really ready, read on to find out what makes the difference between a good player, a great player, and a PHENOMENAL player.
A Golf Lesson On Beating Tiger Woods
Ben Hogan scoffed at the idea. Jack Nicklaus spurned it. Gary player scorned it. Among the game’s most respected legends, they disdained the idea of using a sports psychologist or a mental coach to help them win. Instead, these players preferred to retain the stubborn independence that drove them to succeed. They provided their own mental golf tips. They didn’t need a sports psychologist or mental coach. For a long time, this approach dominated on the Tour.
Then Tiger Woods burst onto the scene. He won time and time again. In fact, he won so much that other players began to ask how. Eventually, they realized what made Tiger win. It was his attitude. He thought he was supposed to win every time he played. And therefore he won. This realization transformed things radically. Now more of golf’s top pros work with mental coaches who provide a different kind of golf instruction session.
An Avalanche Of Change
Tiger’s rise to the top brought an avalanche of change. As Davis Love III points out, Tiger taught professionals that the winning edge in the pro game was mental, not physical. Tiger gets to a better mental place more consistently than the rest of the players, who get to it only occasionally. That’s why he wins. Tiger’s approach also taught the pros that the mental realm is where the greatest improvement can be made more rapidly.
While Tiger’s success was the driving force behind the change, the tipping point may have been Ernie Els’ victory in the British Open in 2002. Helped by Jos Vanstiphout, Els cruised to victory at Muirfield, St. Andrews. That spurred changes. Today, more and more sports psychologists are advising golfers about golf’s mental side. They’re also writing books about it. One noteworthy book is Tim Gallwey’s The Inner Game of Golf, fashioned after his breakthrough book, The Inner Game of Tennis.
In addition, more and more researchers are studying the game’s mental side. Some are using the latest technological advances to do it. Dr. Deborah Graham, a sports psychologist, has clients practice with a special monitor. It measures factors like heart rate and tension. The readings determine the player’s optimum performance rate. Meanwhile, Dr. Debbie Crews, a researcher at Arizona State, has found that the best predictor of successful performance is brain function milliseconds before and at impact.
Still A Ways To Go
Despite these advances, research in to the mental approach has a ways to go. So does the players’ regard for it as a legitimate weapon on tour. At a recent World Scientific Congress of Golf, a poll revealed that while elite players believe that mental skills are 50 percent of the game, the majority say they spend less than 10 percent of their practice time on them.
The research on the game’s mental side, however, has produced two key golf tips for the weekend golfer. First, before the mental skills can make a difference, a player must develop swing and course management skills. Knowing how and where to make shots is a must. Having learned this, golfers can then take their game to the next level by focusing on its mental aspects.
Second, the most successful golfers play not for glory or even to win, but for the challenge and satisfaction gained from the improvement process. It’s what Gio Valiante, a sports psychologist from Rollins College in Winter Park, FL, calls the Mastery Approach.
According to this theory, elite golfers, like Jack Nicklaus and Tiger Woods, are more concerned with learning and improving than winning. This drive for mastery gets then fully involved in the shot at hand. They don’t worry about who they’re playing, how much money they’ll win, or what people will say if they lose. It’s how they attain superior focus, concentration, and achievement.
The formula for improving your game is clear. Work first on developing your swing skills and course management skills through golf lessons, practice sessions, golf tips, and/or playing a lot. Once proficient at them, work on the game’s mental side. Combining both will not only boost your game to the next level, it will also help you whittle down your golf handicap.