The First Tee – A Mental Process

October 24, 2010

The following is a posting string found at This is one approach that you can take, and, ultimately, you have to find a mental game that works for you, but, hopefully the interaction will give you a good start on finding a thought process for your golf round
Original Post:

Whilst the Mrs was shopping today I popped into a bookshop for a coffee and flicked through a copy of ‘Zen Golf’ by Dr Joe Parent.

The following passage caught my eye, I’m going from memory here so it’s not word for word but I hope the message is clear.

I thought it was good.

Congratulations on your perfect swing.

Sure, with practice and learning you might improve it, but for today’s round it’s the only swing you’ve got and if you allow it, it will get you round in the lowest possible number of shots.

Picture the scene, you hit a poor shot, so after thinking about your swing you come up with a ‘fix’, you hit a couple of decent shots and then another bad one, you come up with another ‘fix’, so you’ve a ‘fix’ sat on a ‘fix’. So on and so forth until you end up with a ‘fix’ on a ‘fix’ on a ‘fix’ on a ‘fix’ and you’ve completely forgotten how to ‘swing’ the golf club.

You get to the 16th tee so fed up you forget everything and just swing the club, you play your best golf for the remaining holes and think “if only I could start all over again playing like that!”

So, what if, after that first poor shot instead of thinking ‘what was wrong with my swing?’ you think ‘what in my mind prevented me from making my perfect swing’ and fix your head not your swing.


Not a bad thought. For me, it’s a slight variation. I work on my swing in practice. I spend time trying to get it as good as it can be. I know it has flaws, but knowing those flaws helps me play better golf. Instead of fighting them, I embrace them. I know when I should back off a shot because, if I make my usual miss, it’s a lost ball. I know when I should go for a shot because my usual miss will be OK. I don’t fight myself when playing golf–there’s enough other things out there to fight against.

More importantly, the first tee has to be a positive thing. If I know where my swing faults are, I can walk up to the first tee and “see the shot” that I’m going to hit. I know what a good one would be, I know what a bad one would be, and I see the good one. Even if I miss a little bit, I’m still OK. I don’t go for too much, and I don’t play it too safe.

Thinking about my game this way has helped me tremendously. I used to go out on the golf course and assume that if I didn’t hit every shot dead at the pin or straight down the fairway, I was terrible at golf. Now, I accept my flaws and use them to my advantage, helping me form a strategy that works for me. It helps me score better, and it makes the game more fun, because I’m not hating myself during the round.

I hope that helps someone out there. BTW, in the past two years I’ve gone from 4.5 hdcp to 1.1.

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