The Plus Side of an Empty Mind

On the course and in play, an empty mind can make your day.

I get a lot of questions about what proper swing thought to have during a round of golf. Ideally, the best swing thought is no thought at all. When you are playing at your best, you are playing on instinct.

When you are in the zone, the fastest way to lose it is to start thinking. When you make that occasional great shot, it more than likely came out of the blue with very little, if any, thinking about what you were doing. Then, you end up confusing yourself by trying to think what you just did that allowed you to make such a great shot.

The time for thinking about your mechanics is when you are practicing.  When you play, it is time to perform on instinct, without thinking about your swing.  As a matter of fact, part of your practice time should be spent hitting balls, without any swing thoughts, to get used to playing on instinct.

So, how do you train or condition your mind to not think when you’re set up to putt, chip, or hit the ball?  Believe it or not, it’s just as easy as training or conditioning your body to do 100 push-ups in a row.  If I were to give your $100,000,000 (that’s right, one hundred million dollars) as soon as you could do 100 push-ups, how long would it take you to train your body to do 100 push-ups?  If you were in good physical shape, it wouldn’t take you too long.  If you are out of shape, you could probably do it within a year or two.  But, you could do it, if your desire was strong enough, and if you were physically able.

What amazes me is to hear a golfer say that it is hard to still the mind and not think.  It is only hard if your mind is not properly trained.  You can’t read a book and expect to be able to do 100 push-ups without exercising, so why would a golfer expect to be able to stop his thoughts without the proper mental training?  Just as it takes time and effort to build a strong body, it takes time and effort to build a strong mind–one that can clear itself of all superfluous thoughts when you demand peak performance from your body.

To show you that it can be done, here is an email that I just received from a very good golfer who has been studying and using The Mental Keys for about a year:

“Dear Michael,

“Thought you would like to hear another ‘just when I have heard them all’ story:

“This weekend, I was playing in our club championship and was leading by three shots with nine holes to play.  On #10, I had to hit from under the trees on my approach shot, and appeared to be slightly long, but ok.

“As I got up to the green, I witnessed the ball inching along our new concrete curbed cart path, slowly but surely the ball rolled and rolled and rolled and then got some momentum and rolled 200 yards down the cart path, then down an adjoining hole, from there I had no shot to the green, or back to the 10th fairway.  I had to play out into the other fairway and I hit a 180-yard shot back to the green.  I two-putted from 60 feet for a hard earned, yet bizarre, double bogey.

“I parred the next two holes, and then hit my approach shot barely over the green on #13, and it ricocheted off a tree root and went out of bounds. Another double bogey.  At that moment, I was tied with five holes to go.

“Although there were many things going through my mind, I told myself to just concentrate on the next shot.  To make a long story short, I got up and in on #17, from a trap, and birdied 18 to win by one shot.”

I share this email with you to illustrate two important points.  One is that Old Man Golf picks on everybody–not just you.  The other is that you can control your thoughts even when your world seems to be falling apart.

To keep this tip at a reasonable length, and help you to train your mind to perform on instinct, reread The Mental Keys* and start using the Four-Step Routine to eliminate all negative thoughts.  Next, read the mental tip on page 64, “Focus on Success”. Then, before every shot you attempt, train your mind to focus on your target with total positive expectations of being able to make the shot.  The only thing left to do, then, is to step up to the ball, go through your pre-shot routine, and see the ball being hit, without thinking.

With practice, you will be pleased at how well you will be able to still your mind and how many more shots you will be able to make.  Not thinking, and playing on instinct, is just as easy as doing 100 push-ups.  All it takes is the time and effort to train your mind, once you know how.

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