The Mental Game Block


Jack Nicklaus was reported as saying Golf is 90% mental. Most golfers admit that the mental game is at least somewhat important even though some place more value on it than others. When I speak in front of groups I often ask what percentage of the game of golf is mental? The answers I receive range from 10% to 100%.
Whats interesting to me is that even those golfers who answer 50% and above tend not to formally develop this part of their game beyond reading some books and listening to some tapes. The next question I ask is How many of you have tried to use tips theyve learned from books or tapes? This usually triggers a yes response from just about everybody. Then I ask, How long do those tips last for you? There is almost always a collective groan after hearing this question. Why? Because almost everyone in the room has had experience with trying a new tip and have it magically disappear not to long after. In fact, over the last 15 years working with golfers, the average tip time lasts about 2 weeks.
How long do the tips you work on last? Do they tend to come and go or work for short periods of time?
As I talk with golfers they continue to express confusion and frustration over this thing we call a Mental Game. The fact is that you are influenced by your mental game whether you formally develop it or not. There are very precise and predictable mind-body performance principles that operate in everyone. Yes, they operate the same in you as they do your favorite pro. John, an amateur golfer with a 16 handicap has the physical talent to lower his handicap by several strokes. When I asked him if he ever developed his mental game his reply was I dont think thats the problem, its something Im doing with my mechanics. John spends a lot of money on lessons and is convinced his on course issues are always mechanical. John is not atypical either. There are many golfers who have a block about working with or developing the mental game.
Finally, when John became so frustrated that his game didnt improve the way he wanted it to, he called me. What I wanted him to understand right away was this; the mental game is made up of three components: the mind, the emotions and the body. In addition, he quickly learned that each of these three factors are all connected and involved every time he puts his hands on the golf club. It was easy to show John how true this was by using his own experiences as the proof. John quickly realized that he was under the influence of these factors all the time and that his focus on mechanics ONLY, was limiting himself as a golfer. John, like many golfers had a resistance to what they assumed the mental game was or wasnt. Over the years, Ive identified 3 common blocks players use to keep them from developing these aspects. They are:
  • They assume talking to someone means they are weak
  • Its just mechanicsI can figure it out
  • I dont need a therapist
    The irony is that anyone who plays great golf has already learned how to use the mind-body performance principles whether they do it consciously or unconsciously. The principles operate in everyone and nobody has a corner on the market. Understanding these principles makes a player stronger, not weaker. Relying on the intellect alone can cause a golfer to play under their true talents and finally, the FlowZone program is not about therapy.
    John learned that the so-called mental game is really not separate from his performance and never was. Just because he found ways to resist it didnt mean it wasnt already influencing his game. The mind, body and emotions are all connected and in continuous communication with each other. When there is disruption in this process, performance is affected. Think about itif youve ever been in the zone you already know how true this is. When in the zone you experienced a smooth flow of energy and the mind, body and emotions were in synch.
    Think of yourself as a finely tuned racing engine. This engine has elite parts and when the engine operates smoothly all the parts are working together without disruption. The flow of communication and energy is smooth and powerful and performance is high. When disruption or obstacles occur, the engine does not run as smoothly and performance is affected. It may be sluggish, parts arent working together and some parts are working harder than others to compensate. This results in a loss of energy, power and performance. When this happens have the parts all of a sudden become less elite? No. They are still elite partsthey just arent functioning together very well. Your body operates exactly the same. You already have the elite parts within you. When they work together you play your best. When there are obstructions in how you use your mind, emotions and body, your performance can be negatively affected.
    Are your elite parts operating as efficiently as they can?
    NOTE: Discounts on Performance Coaching are available only until May 15th 2005. This is our way of saying thank you to The Golf Channel visitors! For more info, visit
    Related Links:
  • David Breslow Article Archive
    Copyright 2005 David Breslow. David is the author of Wired To Win and offers the highly acclaimed FlowZone program: Your Resilience Factor: Adapt and Excel in any Environment Workshop and TeleCourse that takes performance to the next level. David has appeared on The Golf Channel, ESPN radio, etc. For more programs/services/products or sign up for a free newsletter (write newsletter in subject box). Contact: David Breslow 847.681.1698 Email: or visit the web: For book orders call toll free: 1.888.280.7715.