There’s this guy named Bob Rotella who is the cat’s meow among golf psychologists. He seems to have helped a lot of touring pros to play better. More power to him.
I finally read one of his books, the famous one, I guess, Golf Is Not a Game of Perfect. I’m sorry to say I came a way quite disappointed.
First of all, the title is all wrong. If you don’t expect to hit the shot you planned on, which is my definition of a perfect shot, then choose another shot that you do expect to come off as you planned it to.
I mean, do you step up to the ball and expect to hit a mediocre shot, or a lousy shot? Really?
And what is “perfect,” anyway? It all depends on what you are capable of.
Touring pros aim for a spot on the green about the size of a throw rug, and they have the skill to hit it.
Me, I just want my ball to hit somewhere on the green and stay on it. That for me is a perfect shot, given my skills.
The trap, and what he is probably addressing, is that while we (should) expect to hit a perfect shot, we get disappointed when we don’t.
The skill every golfer needs to have, from hacker to pro, is to pick a shot you believe in, hit it, see where it ends up, and start thinking about the next shot. Period. No more than that.
No sense of uncertainty as you are about to swing the club away. No emoting because the ball went somewhere else. No wondering if your game is falling apart because you hit one bad shot. And so on. None of that.
That was the whole point of his book, and it’s a good point. It can’t be said often enough.
But where the book fails is though he tells you what to do, he is silent on how to do it.
It’s as if he had written a book of golf swing instruction that says you need to hit the ball with the clubface square to the swing path and the swing path going toward your target, the end.
Good advice. How about telling us how to do that?
Well, the mental game is the same. “What to do” is not “how to do.”
Just as you don’t get a good swing for the asking, and you don’t acquire good mental habits for the asking. You have to know how to get them and then develop yourself long those lines.
[WARNING: Massive product promotion coming up.]
There is only one book on the mental game that I know of, and I have read a lot of them, that goes beyond telling you what to do and also tells you how to develop your mind so you can do it.
It is my own book, The Golfing Self. It contains exercises that if you do them train your mind to maintain your concentration for the entire round, every shot, so you have your best chance of hitting perfect shots.
(You get the book as a free download on this site. Hard copy at Amazon.)