Sometimes words matter in Golf…

Author: The Golf Sherpa  |  Category: The Mental Golf Game

In the tradition of artists in the past who were fond of words…George Carlin…Richard Pryor and others, the Sherpa’s commentary tonight will be on how strange and yet important words are in golf.

To lighten things up a bit, let’s start with one of my favorite golf words..Birdie.  To anyone outside of golf, this sounds like a nice word, yet more apt to describe an animal than one under par.  It is even funnier that in golf, being “below” par is something one strives for with hopeless anticipation, yet would get you fired from your day job in a heartbeat.

Yes my dear readers, golf terminology, like the physical properties that define it can seem to be counter intuitive in nearly every other dimension…including it’s time honored vocabulary.

So why do words matter you ask (I promise there is a point)?

Words matter simply because in the area of strategy, they define the difference between success and failure.  More specifically, words matter because they define how your mind creates the image of what you are trying to achieve with your particular golf strategy.

A terrific example of the power of words is when you misuse them in the ‘negative sense’ as you are setting up a shot.  How many times have you stood over a ball and said to yourself , “self, don’t hit that shot into the water on the left”, then proceeded to rope a gnarly hook right into the water…as if controlled by magic. 

The problem, sports psychologists say,  is that your brain doesn’t process the “don’t” part and just swings away at the water on the left. 

You can used this to terrific advantage if you flip the script the next time you are faced with some type of trouble avoidance strategy (like the example above).  Merely use the same situation and phrase it differently.  Just say, “self, hit it to the right side of the fairway”. 

While you are behind the ball considering what you want to do with the shot, you can think about the water trouble to the left all you want.  Just don’t make it part of your self talk when you are OVER the ball trying to place it in the target area (right fairway).

Another way to think about it would be to ask yourself….is my target  “the right fairway” or  “not going left into the water”?  This contrast is more stark but serves well to reinforce the power of target orientation and ultimately positive thoughts.

Bottom line:  Plan all shots in terms of what you want to achieve, not what you want to avoid, and the magnetic force that hazards seem to have on your ball will weaken.

Good night my dear readers, I have to go help Mrs. Sherpa with the dishes, so that I “don’t” hit a hosel- rocket into the junk on the left myself.

Play on…

The Sherpa

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