Better Golf with Less Practice
Learn to Play the Golf of your Dreams
Although I’ve recorded this programme to help you to Practice and Play Golf in your Mind for Better Golf, I chose to use that as the subtitle as the programme is really about playing Better Golf with Less Practice, the name I finally chose. I derived the name from a fascinating old book I found in a bookshop a few years ago. It was called Better Golf Without Practice, written by Alex J Morrison and published in 1940. That seems to predate a lot of the so-called modern golf psychology I keep hearing about!
Now, modern research shows that the act of “Imagining” yourself doing something fires up the identical parts of the brain that would be activated if you were actually doing it. So if you’re imagining yourself playing golf, the neurons you’re using in your brain are the very same ones that you’re using when you’re physically playing the game. Indeed, some of the actual muscles involved in playing a real shot are activated and make the same movements at a barely noticeable level. You really do “physically” practice your swing when you imagine hitting the ball and you have no reason to hit a bad shot when you’re practicing and playing in your imagination.
One of my favourite stories about the power of imagination in golf comes from an American Major, James Nesmeth. He was an average golfer consistently scoring in the mid 90’s, until he developed a unique way of improving his golf game. It came when he spent seven years in North Vietnam as a prisoner of war. During those tortuous years, Nesmeth lived in solitary confinement inside a prison cell that measured four and a half feet high and 5 feet long. To keep from losing all hope, he realized that he needed to do something to occupy his mind. So, every day he played 18 holes of golf in his mind. He imagined everything in vivid detail from the country club he was playing at, to the smell of freshly cut grass in the summertime. He would imagine the grip of the clubs and practice his swing mentally many times until he perfected it. In reality, he had no place to go, so he spent four hours a day on the course in his mind never leaving any detail out. When he was released from prison and returned home, he played his first real game of golf for 7 years. He scored 74!
If all of that isn’t enough for you, there are countless studies done on the effects of mental practice in sports. You see, it has now been scientifically proven that the brain and nervous system do not fully know the difference between real events and vividly imagined ones! So you can practice perfect golf in your mind and only have to visit the practice ground to warm up before playing the game we all love.
According to studies at California State University – Northridge, mental rehearsal can be even better than physical practice, because it activates more abstract neural representations of physical skills. So if you practice a particular stroke with your teaching professional and then inadvertently practice it incorrectly when you’re on your own, you may well be rehearsing the wrong movements and making it more difficult to relearn the correct ones later. Mentally practicing a clumsy shot is not, in muscular terms, detailed enough to hurt your swing. However, it is still detailed enough to help you learn and experience the correct movements.
There’s even some research ongoing that’s finding proof that when you mentally rehearse a physical action, your unconscious mind sends out messages to build up the muscles needed to perform the action.
Practicing and playing golf in your mind really does work and generates the appropriate muscle responses for whatever you’re vividly imagining. It’s not clear why, although the recent discovery of mirror neurons may provide the answer. Whichever theory you subscribe to, the implication is that imagined performance really does exercise much of the brain’s motor function. It isn’t all imagination, after all.
So what’s have I included in Better Golf with Less Practice?
Well this time, I’ve included three powerful freestanding golf hypnosis sessions to help you to:
- Help you to play golf in your mind, whenever you have the time and wherever you imagine, rehearsing and playing your shots, building your confidence and raising your expectations in a fraction of the time it would normally take.
- Learn how to practice in your mind, as if you were on the practice range, to practice and try out swing changes integrate the changes you wish to make. Using the concept of Hypnotic Time allows you to speed up your practice and repeat new drills and techniques.
- Learn how to practice and play golf in your dreams using lucid dreaming techniques.
Play Golf in your Mind – Hypnosis Session
The first hypnosis session, Play Golf in your Mind, helps you to visualise and experience playing any course you know, mentally playing every shot and every putt. You’ll be using all your existing pre-shot routines and developing your strategy for playing the course. With the power of your unconscious mind, you’ll see yourself hitting the good shots you are capable of as you build your confidence and expectation of hitting great shots.
Unconsciously, your mind doesn’t really know the difference between a good shot you hit and a good shot you imagine, so I think you should take the opportunity to “play” rounds of golf in your mind. Imagine arriving at the ball for each shot in the round and going through your full pre-shot routine, including visualising the shot you want to hit. Then imagine taking a good rehearsal swing before stepping into the ball, checking your alignment, taking one last look at your target and starting your swing – just as soon as your eyes are back on the ball. The only thing you should be thinking about is your visualisation of the shot or putt you want to hit, as you trust your unconscious mind to swing the club.
As an additional bonus, this hypnosis session uses the concept of Hypnotic Time to speed things up when you Play Golf in your Mind. That means that you can unconsciously play entire rounds of golf in your mind in just a few minutes.
Practice Golf in your Mind – Hypnosis Session
You’ve probably been told for all your golfing life that the only way to better golf is practice, practice and more practice. I remember when I started out in golf in the 1960’s hearing Gary Player responding to Henry Longhurst’s suggestion about his luck in a tournament. Gary’s response, in a clipped South African accent, was, “Yes, Mr Longhurst. And the more and harder I practice, the luckier I get.”
Now I’m not saying that practice doesn’t work at all. It clearly does, especially if you know you’re practicing what the pro wants. We can all hit good shots during a golf lesson, can’t we? The problem is that when the pro’s not there, the swing goes with him and we are left practising a suspect technique and ingraining our bad habits. What makes it worse psychologically is that without the pro watching us, we’re often not sure if we’re doing the right things.
With this second hypnosis session, Practice Golf in your Mind, you’ll mentally rehearse playing all those shots you want to learn or improve and hitting them right every time. This is also a great session for implementing the swing changes you’d like to make.
This hypnosis session also uses the concept of Hypnotic Time to speed things up when you Practice Golf in your Mind. So if you have a swing drill to work on, why not go through it physically then go into hypnosis and visualise doing 1,000 repetitions in your mind in 20 minutes? It doesn’t take that many sessions to achieve the 10,000 repetitions the experts tell us is needed to implement a swing change In addition, every one of those repetitions will be perfect, just as you imagined them. Now that doesn’t often happen on the practice tee!
Play Golf in your Dreams – Hypnosis Session
When it comes to playing golf in your dreams, I have to hand over for a few moments to a quote from my golfing hero, Jack Nicklaus in 1964. Here’s what he had to say about the power of dreaming about golf.
“Wednesday night I had a dream and it was about my golf swing. I was hitting them pretty good in the dream and all at once I realized I wasn’t holding the club the way I’ve actually been holding it lately. I’ve been having trouble collapsing my right arm taking the club head away from the ball, but I was doing it perfectly in my sleep. So when I came to the course yesterday morning I tried it the way I did in my dream and it worked. I shot a sixty-eight yesterday and a sixty-five today.” Jack had been in a serious slump, when one night he dreamed he was playing much better and noticed, in his dream, how he was holding the club the way he used to. He reverted back to his old grip and suddenly started playing well again.
In this third hypnosis session, Play Golf in your Dreams, you’ll unconsciously learn how to use modern lucid dreaming techniques to control and shape your dreams to allow you to continue rehearsing successful golf in your mind as you sleep. Hypnosis works by communicating with your unconscious mind. And your dreams, the ones you have when you sleep or daydream, are also the work of your unconscious mind. We all spend a lot of our time sleeping, so why not use some of that time to practice and improve your golf with lucid dreams.