The Inner Game of Golf 1

Golf is a game that is at once exhilarating and frustrating. The possibilities for perfection excite the player, but the game has the uncanny ability to expose weaknesses of mind and character of the player too.

The player must learn to accept the challenge to play golf’s inner game in order to achieve a modicum of success. She must not only recognize the hazards of OB markers and sand traps, but the existence of mental hazards as well. Many players vow to quit the game because of internal and external frustrations, but few actually do quit. The game of golf is quite alluring because of the possibilities to swing like the pros. And many novices are able (on occasion) to do just that. The frustrations lie in the fact that repetitive success is hard to achieve at will. Hence, what is agonizing about the game is its manner of inconsistency. The good news is that, with a little discipline, a player can achieve the mental attitude necessary to improve.

Precision can be achieved through the positive manner in which one approaches the ball. Most professionals seem to approach the ball with great self-discipline. This should be the goal of the novice as well. Consistency in one’s approach is important. Every single time, approach the ball with a calm nature. Everyone knows that golf does not allow for the release of pent up frustration. The next shot must be achieved with a kind of ‘quiet’ attitude. This calls for one to understand the inner game of golf as well as the outer game.

The game brings with it the pressure of knowing one has to make every shot count because golf does not allow for many mistakes. And, because golf is a game one plays against herself (as well as others), the inner game becomes intensified, i.e. the ego is challenged and threatened. Many times, this pressure can cause the player to perform poorly, yet it is just this kind of pressure that attracts one to the game in the first place.

The best golfers realize that there is no one tip or strategy that can prepare them for each challenge. They realize that good golf is achieved through patience and practice of inner and outer game skills. If a shot is poor, the player has a tendency to overanalyze what went wrong. If the shot is good, the player spends a lot of time thinking about how to repeat it. But the best golfer’s know how to clear the mind, regardless of external factors.

The biggest secret to golf is learning to control one’s mind. When this is achieved, the body naturally relaxes, allowing for a better shot.