When I was growing up and trying to learn how to play golf, I went about it in a very haphazard way. Envision a game of whack-a-mole. Every time a problem comes up, I whacked it down by changing my swing, hitting range balls, putting til after dark, or whatever else I thought might work. As a 12 year old, this was ok at times. I was just doing as much golf as possible. I couldn’t get enough. But there was never a method to the madness.
This aimlessness went on for over a decade. I was always attempting to fix my own problems, or if it got bad enough enlist someone else to give their input. But everything was a surface-level focus. Always treating the symptom, not the cause.
Until the summer of 2016. A full 13 years later. I had finally had enough treading water. I had spent far long enough going from plateau to plateau. I wanted to actually improve.
So I reached out to Robert Linville, who runs Precision Golf School in Greensboro, NC. I knew he had helped some already really good players get even better. So it was really an easy decision to start seeing Robert. At first our work was purely physical, just like my previous decade of self-diagnosing. But obviously Robert is a world-class instructor so his ability to help someone’s physical game is on a completely different level, certainly from my own ability to fix myself. But this is where the story ends for most teacher-player relationships. The players goes to see the teacher, the teacher gives them a slight change to work on, the player works on it in whatever method they can come up with, until the player is dissatisfied again and the player goes back to see the teacher. And this cycle goes around and around. I think we’re all familiar with this cycle.
This is where Mental Coaching starts to come in, and why I found out how Robert is different. Yes, we did this cycle of lesson-practice-lesson-practice, but I didn’t see real improvement until he introduced to me HOW to practice, not just WHAT to practice. He presented to me a way of tracking my stats and working harder with a more focused approach on difficult, uncomfortable, random practice. This meant practice sessions became more than hitting balls and chips and putts with the highest priority on quantity. I began pushing myself outside the comfort zone of time=working hard. HOW I spent my time became my metric, not HOW MUCH time I spent.
“HOW I spent my time became my metric, not HOW MUCH time I spent.
In addition to this new focus on quality (and a higher quantity of quality), I began spending more time reflecting on myself, my own game, my progress, and watching myself to see if I was pushing myself as hard as I could. Robert and I decided it was time to be as honest with myself as possible about where I wanted to get to, and where I am currently. Simply tricking myself into thinking I was doing the right things and on the right track toward my goals was no longer going to cut it. I knew if everyday I left the course knowing deep down that I gave it everything I had, and I truly didn’t waste my time, then over the long haul improvement would take care of itself. Simply shifting my focus onto doing what Robert had prescribed for me to do, and pushing myself 100%, allowed me to let go of my control over how good I was.
This is what I had always fought and what I see other golfers fighting. We try to wrangle our golf games into submission through sheer brute force. By doing as much as possible we will steer our game towards good. We desperately want to be that good, accomplish that goal, play at that level. And using the desperation of not having what we want as the major motivation for working hard. What I saw in myself and others is this desperation leads to control, and this control leads to anxiety, and this anxiety leads to depression. Not depression in the clinically diagnosable sense (although sometimes it does go that far), but a feeling of being lost and hopeless. And unfortunately it takes until this point of hopelessness for players to finally make decisions. At the end of the desperation-control-anxiety-depression road players make one of two decisions: either we seek someone else’s help (an instructor, a friend, the internet), or we give up entirely.
We desperately want to be that good, accomplish that goal, play at that level.
This is where I come in. The goal of Mental Coaching is to help you focus on the right things and stop focusing on the wrong things. As simple as that sounds, that’s really it. You are here thinking this one way (which usually includes a lot of bad thinking with some good thinking), and I take you over there (which includes a lot more good thinking and less and less bad thinking). This is the general idea of it. But of course, not every player is the same. Every player’s road to how they get to Mental Coaching is different. Ideally they would never even have to go down that road towards hopelessness to arrive at a Mental Coach. And every player’s road toward thinking better is different as well. There’s a lot that goes into it: background, personality, skill, self-awareness, self-esteem, among many other traits. So my job as a Mental Coach is to find out who you are, how you think, where your game currently is, what your goals are, and help you create a plan to get from where you are to where you want to be. And I feel that through what I learned treading water and barely staying afloat from age 12 to age 25, and then the improvement I saw working with Robert Linville and Precision Golf School from age 25 to age 27, I have some value I can bring you.
As much as I can I will give out information freely to as wide an audience as possible, but the nuances of every individual make general information less helpful. You can learn a lot by reading and watching the right things, and you don’t have to just listen to what I have to say.
There is no shortage of genuinely helpful coaches out there that have a ton of good information and most likely know more than I do. So I encourage you to do a lot of research before reaching out to me.
But in the meantime while you’re looking over the Mental Coaching landscape, you can take this Mental Game Assessment. It gives me a broad overview of who you are as a golfer and how you tend to think in certain situations. You might have even taken something like this on another coach’s site. It will allow me to rate your proficiency in 18 different mental game traits such as perfectionism, acceptance, self-belief, etc. and I will in turn send you a summary of your strengths and weaknesses and what you can do to work on them. A free resource that takes you about 15 minutes to complete.
I love helping golfers find their way in a game full of obstacles, distractions, and instant gratification. My goal as a Mental Coach is for you to understand yourself, why you think the way you do, and to use your mind as an asset that helps you reach your goals and have fun along the way. It brings me great satisfaction to see players progress by working hard on the right things.