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Through the years I have responded to questions readers have emailed or asked. Nearly all are reasonable, and some are funny. Bur most fall into the category of “frequently asked questions,” or FAQ’s. To spice up my easy-to-grasp answers I have relied on the wisdom of the late Yogi Berra (1925 – 2015).
FAQ: Is golf mostly mental? Yogi-isms: “[Golf] is 90 percent mental, and the other half is physical.” Dr. Golf thinks golf is mostly mental up to a point. If you can’t get a golf ball airborne, even hypnosis won’t help. There is a mindset that is open to learning the golf swing, and that’s critical. According to Yogi, “You can observe a lot by watching.” Look at the pros; mimic their swings and behavior, then take lessons. Performing your best, regardless of your talent or ability level, requires disciplined mental skill.
FAQ: As a golfer can I think too much? Yes and no. Tournament golf and winning golf demand agile thinking, which will internally command winning decisions. The key is thinking quickly, efficiently and accurately. Over-thinking and playing brain-dead are two sides of a losing coin. Again, Yogi said best: “Think? How the heck are you gonna think and hit the ball at the same time?”
FAQ: It’s easy for the pros to be confident, but how can I be more confident? Exuding confidence, it seems to me, is a bit like enthusiasm. We like people who are enthusiastic, and they seem to be more successful. It’s important to understand your basic golfing ability level and do everything you can to play at or above that level, realizing that you will play very few “perfect” holes and make only a rare “perfect” golf swing. Confidence is more than swagger. Let your game do your talking and your self-assurance will soar. As Yogi said: “So I’m ugly. So what? I never saw anyone hit with his face.”
FAQ: I’m so down in the dumps after messing up on the golf course, and I know I’m too hard on myself, but is there some way to deal with that? The first thing is to take a look at what other parts of your life get you down. What about performance at work? Money? Time? Friends? Notice a pattern with things that create discouragement within you? Nobody likes making mistakes, and when you mess up it’s easy to feel foolish. We must understand, no matter how skilled we are, that every time we play a round of golf, we will make mistakes. Guaranteed. We just try to minimize them.
There are a lot of variables that cause mistakes on the golf course. We can’t condemn ourselves for things often beyond our control. When the great Yogi had a hitting slump, he blamed the bat, and then he changed bats.
“After all,” Yogi said, “if I know it isn’t my fault that I’m not hitting, how can I get mad at myself?” Good point.
When Yogi played golf, he, too, messed up. He used to say, wisely, “I made too many wrong mistakes.”
Dr. Charlie Blanchard is a licensed psychologist specializing in sports and leadership. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org.