Q&A: ‘Mistake-Free Golf’ By Dr. Bob Winters

MISTAKE-FREE GOLF: First Aid for Your Golfing Brain (St. Martin’s Press), a new book by Dr. Bob Winters, goes on sale today and is available from major booksellers. Drawing from interviews with golf stars such as 2013 U.S. Open champion Justin Rose, Hall of Famers Raymond Floyd and Nick Price, Michelle Wie and others, MISTAKE-FREE GOLF instructs golfers of all abilities how to specifically correct their mental mistakes and overcome their lack of confidence.

In this first part of a Q&A series, Dr. Winters addresses a common golf anxiety.

Q&A: 'Mistake-Free Golf' By Dr. Bob Winters 1
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Q. During competitions or even playing with friends in a weekend match, I never play as well as I think I should. Why do I underperform to my real talent? Am I falling victim to pressure?

Dr. Bob Winters: This is a common occurrence for many golfers. Almost everyone that plays in competitions or with others often feel that they “do not perform to their true golfing potential.” They often tell me that they feel like “over-motivated underachievers.” That is, they put so much effort into their training and practice but fail to see the fruits of their labor in lower scores and finished outcomes when playing with others or in a tournament situation. This lack of playing well often results in frustration, disappointment and anger. It seems the harder they try the worse it gets!

You have to ask yourself, what is pressure and where does it come from? How does it affect you?

These are serious questions for introspection and self-analysis for sure. The reasons for one’s feelings of anxiety may come from a number of sources. But, more than anything, you must dismiss the result or the end value of a shot. You must let go of outcome or result thinking.

A key component of playing to your true potential is that you focus on executing your shot according to your decision plan. You must remember and adhere to the task. Your task is to hit the ball where you desire it to go. The pressure that we feel almost always comes from within. Pressure comes from YOU. Often, we want things so badly that we tend to get into our own way and suffer from wanting it badly and trying too hard.

I call these self-imposed afflictions “wantism and tryosity.”

These afflictions show up because we put added pressure on ourselves because we are trying hard to impress our playing partners and also to avoid looking inept or incompetent. These are some serious performance inhibitors that will always hold you back.

Q&A: 'Mistake-Free Golf' By Dr. Bob Winters 2
Dr. Bob Winters

So, the remedy is this: Dismiss the worried thoughts from your mind and take charge of what you can control. Focus on your structured routine and take charge of your one shot situation. Slow down your breathing. As you step into and address your ball, insure that you are doing it at a controlled, yet leisurely pace. Do not rush yourself or make quick movements in order to get the shot over with or become too excited. Pace yourself as you walk into the address position. Make sure that you are aiming and aligning yourself to your intended target. This will help to insure a feeling of confidence. Once you have done your aim and alignment, simply take a final last look at your target and bring your eyes back to the ball and swing away without hesitation. Above all else, have one simple cue or swing image. Do not clutter your mind with over-instruction or too much self-direction. Simply aim your club and align your body and swing. Complete a full backswing and get the club set and then make the transition and fire.

The great Jack Nicklaus once told me that whenever he had a big shot and he knew the outcome was crucial, he focused exclusively on completing his backswing before he made his move back into the ball. So, the essential part is that you step into the ball with a specific action plan about what you want TO DO with your shot and make a full swing and accept the results.

It worked well for Jack, and I am sure it can work for you as well!


Photo of author
Neil Sagebiel

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