Teaches: Zen Golf, Swing Keys, Mental Aspects of the Game
Published: His first book, the bestselling ZEN GOLF: Mastering the Mental Game, published by Doubleday, is the #1 best-selling book on sports psychology for golf.
Famous Students: Dr. Joe coaches celebrity golfers, having worked with Ray Romano, Kevin James, George Lopez, Anthony Anderson, Malcolm McDowell, Michael O’Keefe (Danny Noonan in Caddyshack), boxing champion Oscar de la Hoya, and many others.
When you have an unusual or awkward stance for a golf shot, the unfamiliar feeling can distract you from your focus on executing the swing you need to make. The more familiar you get with the feeling of your stance and the angle of your swing, the more comfortable you’ll be playing the shot.
Take the club you intend to swing, and assume the stance you intend to take. Waggle the club a bit, feeling what it will be like to swing from that position. Let your body get used to the way
Working backwards from your goal is often helpful. Here’s a swing key that uses that approach.
Make a practice swing with a mid-iron into what you and your instructor agree is a good finish position. Hold that finish for a few seconds, with as much awareness of how your body feels as possible, thinking, “This is the finish I want to get to at the end of my swing.” Do this several times to ingrain the feeling.
When you play, make a practice swing before each shot, holding
Use at least part of your practice time to toughen yourself for competition. Have putting contests on the practice green, with friends or as self-competitions against a target score. Practice in the short game area until you get up and down a certain number of times. Hit shots out of a bunker until you get a certain number within six feet of the hole.
Gary Player took his self-competition and the added pressure very seriously. He was once late for a dinner party he was hosting at
The bigger deal we make of any shot, the more fear we have about a poor result. It can be a fear of failure if it’s a short putt to win a hole, a fear of ruining a good round if it’s your last tee shot, or a fear of embarrassment if it’s your first tee shot and people are watching.
It doesn’t do any good to deny the fact that we have fear. We know that isn’t true. But we don’t have to give in to fear- we can go beyond it.
To go beyond fear you first have to recognize
There’s a difference between having a thought come to mind and putting it into motion. You can think about playing a risky shot, but you don’t have to listen to that “bright idea.” How many strokes would you save if you took a moment to reflect on the consequence of a decision, rather than just acting on impulse?
Well into a round you may have the thought of playing a fairway wood to carry over a water hazard fronting the green. You can either listen to that thought, or ask yourself,