In the last five years, I have recommended one golf book over any other – “Putting Out of Your Mind” by Dr. Bob Rotella. It truly changed the way I think about putting and my putting ability. After spending years thinking I was a bad putter, I now approach every putt positively and I consider myself to be a great putter. That book made me change the way I mentally approached putting which ultimately made me change the way I thought about my putting ability.
Well, I have a new favorite golf book. I recently read “The Golfer’s Mind” by Dr. Rotella and it has changed the way I approach every shot. I can’t recommend it highly enough to all serious golfers, no matter your skill level. This is not a new book, as I think it was published in 2004, and it is available in most book stores or online here.
The nice thing is, unlike making a physical change to your golf swing, making a mental change can lead to immediate results. You don’t need to spend hours beating balls at the range, just spend a few hours reading and you can see great changes in your game. I personally saw the immediate effect this book can have this weekend. I gave the book to one of my golf buddies to read as I thought he would truly benefit from its principles. He was already a good player, carrying a 7 handicap, but he tended to get in his own way on the course, especially if things started to go bad. I hoped that the book would help him to stay in the moment and capitalize fully on his talent. He read it last week while on a business trip. We played on Saturday and he accomplished two milestones during the round. First, he shot under par for nine holes for the first time in his career, and, more importantly, he was able to finish the day even par, another first in his career. He credits the book for helping him focus on every shot and maintain a calm during adversity.
According to Dr. Rotella, he wrote this book because many of his students expressed a desire to have a handbook to refer to once they had stopped working with him directly. For that reason he put together a very easy guide to the ten principles he teaches for his former students, and for those of us who can’t afford to hire him for private counseling, to refer back to as a refresher. An excerpt from the book after the jump:
Often what I hear from readers of those earlier books is something to the effect that, “Your ideas were really helpful right after I read them, Doc, but lately they don’t seem to work well.” What that tells me is not that the ideas have gotten less effective. It tells me that over time, the reader has forgotten some of them. Or he’s reverted to old ways of thinking, perhaps without realizing it.
This doesn’t surprise me. The players with whom I work individually are prone to the same problem. If the issue is trusting the swing for instance, they might be able to do it very well in the months after we have our initial session. It’s one of the things I stress. But over time, a golfer is exposed to a barrage of contradictory ideas. People are telling him to think about the way his hands cock the club or the ratio between his hip turn and his shoulder turn. If he’s a professional, he gets this sort of advice from renowned instructors on the practice range at Tour venues. If he’s an average player, he gets it from magazines and television. Pretty soon, instead of trusting his swing and thinking about his target, he’s thinking about pronation while he’s on the golf course. He’s trying to swing while his mind sorts through bits and pieces of conflicting advice. That’s difficult to do.
When this happens with one of my established clients, I review the essentials with him. This book is an effort to do the same thing for readers. It’s a distilled version of what I teach.
So often, in those telephone sessions, I return to ten fundamental points of good golf thinking. If Moses hadn’t already copyrighted the name, I would be tempted to call them my ten commandments for playing great golf. I know that if a player adheres to them, he can find out exactly how low his skills are prepared to take him on any given round. Here they are:
- Play to play great. Don’t play not to play poorly.
- Love the challenge of the day, whatever it may be.
- Get out of results and get into process.
- Know that nothing will bother or upset you on the golf course, and you will be in a great state of mind for every shot.
- Playing with a feeling that the outcome doesn’t matter is almost always preferable to caring too much.
- Believe fully in yourself so you can play freely.
- See where you want the ball to go before every shot.
- Be decisive, committed, and clear.
- Be your own best friend.
- Love your wedge and your putter.
These ideas may sound obscure or strange to you. If you finish reading this book, they won’t. I intend to explain each of them, and by the time I’m done, you will understand why they’re so important. I hope you’ll want to re-read them often.
Now, I don’t think that the book will make everyone a scratch player, but it certainly will improve your game. In my buddies case, he was able to focus on every shot and not worry about the outcome of the day. When he started the back nine with three bogeys, he didn’t give up, instead he focused even more and was able to pick up two birdies coming in to finish even for the day. He was more mentally tough that day than I have ever seen him.
I have also seen the benefit of the message in the book on my golf game recently. Since reading it, I have managed to put together two rounds under par, my first in over three years. One was also on Saturday, as I could not let my buddy beat me, no matter how good a day he was having. Get the book, it might change your game forever.