Golf's Fundamental Trilogy
The purpose of this chapter is to define the distinctions between the Physical, the Mental, and the Inner parts of the game. By charting and
understanding the roles each part of the trilogy plays, you'll be able to understand more thoroughly how to reach mastery of your game. As I put
this trilogy in perspective, try to paint a picture of how everything works together. The three parts of the trilogy combine to make one cohesive
system of play. The three parts are interactive. They work in combination with each other to make the whole system more effective. This
information is vital to your understanding of the big picture, and understanding the big picture is vital to your development as a golfer. Try to put
this information in perspective before you actively engage in developing your fundamental skills.
As you can see, the chart to the right displays the basic structure of each part of the trilogy. Remember these key aspects, because they'll
continue to reappear as we progress through your golfing journey. As you can see, the Physical Game will involve feeling the techniques of the
long game, the short game, and putting. The Mental Game will involve developing your game plan by establishing a sound mind-set. Within this
game plan you'll learn to stay optimistic, you'll remain committed to your beliefs, and you will maintain consistent swing-thoughts. The Inner Game
will involve using awareness and imagery to heighten the quality of your experience. Along the way you'll learn to develop trust and confidence in
the whole process.
While observing the chart on the previous page, you may get the feeling that the Physical side of the game involves feeling the actions of the swing,
the Mental game involves what you think about as you play,and the Inner side of the game involves what you're aware of as you experience the
game. However, completely understanding the roles that each play may not be so obvious. So, let's take a deeper look into each part of the game.
THE GAME OF GOLF
Golf's Fundamental Trilogy
Feel and Touch
The Long Game
The Short Game
The Game Plan
|New Horizons Golf Approach
I n n o v a t i v e C o a c h i n g F o r G o l f e r s
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|The Physical Game Examined
The Physical Game involves the swings of the game. Each of these swings has a different goal. The goal of the putting stroke, for example,
is to roll the ball down your intend line and into the hole. Putting is the part of the game that requires you to finish the hole. It brings the
process of playing the hole to its completion so you can restart the process on the next hole. The swings of the Short Game are designed for
feel and touch. Their goal is to get the ball on the green and close enough to the hole to save strokes. With these shots you must
understand how to feel how far the ball will fly through the air, and how much it must roll towards the hole. The swings of the Long Game are
more concerned with creating greater power so to cover greater distances with the flight of the ball. Therefore the swings of the Long Game
are more concerned with providing Power, while the swings of the Short Game are more concerned with controlling Accuracy, and the goal of
Putting is to hole the ball and finish the hole. Technically these swings use principles of Physics, Geometry, and Mechanics. Furthermore,
they involve the Biomechanics of motion. More simply, these techniques explain what your body must do to perform the fundamental skills.
The physical game also involves physical conditioning, physical fitness. If your body's going to perform the actions described in the
techniques, then your body must be both flexible enough and strong enough to perform the actions. Also, since golf takes over 4 hours to
play, your golfing muscles must be conditioned for endurance. One of the conditioning issues unique to golf is that golf is a rotary sport.
This means we rotate our bodies as we play golf. And the way we rotate our bodies is uncommon to our everyday activities. There's nothing
we do on a daily basis that emulates the way we rotate our bodies in golf. So, if we want to be conditioned to rotate properly, we need to do
some daily activities that involve rotating our bodies.
However, I also believe that all our motorskills are conditioned. Take walking for example. Many people have told me, they feel playing golf
should be as natural as walking. My first response is, "Was it really natural to learn how to walk?" I've watched many a baby learn how to
walk, and it didn't look natural for any of them. It seemed quite awkward, and it took a very long time for them to learn how to walk efficiently.
The thing that becomes true for all of us, is by the time we learn how to walk, we don't have to think about how to walk. We're simply aware of
how to walk. And since we walk every day, we maintain our conditioned awareness of walking efficiently.
Thus, your golfing skills will only feel "natural" after you've practiced them enough to internalize them. Therefore, your body must be
conditioned to perform the motions necessary to play good golf. Since playing golf involves using your whole body, you should condition your
whole body for strength, flexibility, and endurance. As you begin to condition your body for golf, try to imagine that the motions of golf are
what I call "angularly specific." This means they're specialized to the specific angles of motion we perform as we swing the golf club. This
means our muscles must be strengthened and stretched in a specialized manner.
For more specific information on the fitness side of golf I recommend seeking out a book that specializes in golf fitness, or try to find a fitness
expert who is trained in golf fitness. For the purpose of this book, I'll provide basic drills that are fundamentally sound, and will provide some
of the basic conditioning needed to play enjoyable golf. I do, however, highly recommend developing a daily, or weekly, fitness program. You
can assess for yourself how in depth you want your fitness program to be. The competitive golfer may need physical conditioning daily,
where as the avid golfer may find that three days a week is enough.
As I stated earlier, the Physical side of the game involves the swings of the Long Game, the Short Game, and Putting. While learning these
techniques, you'll learn how to apply energy for both power and accuracy. Thus, the physical side of the game is the energy side of the
game. This is one of the things that make the experience of golf so alluring. When we experience our ability to build and release energy
through our bodies, we are captivated by the experience. We're amazed by our ability to direct such energy. We see the flight of a well-
executed shot as an affirmation of our ability to powerfully and accurately release our swing's energy.
Therefore, I believe golf is an energy game, and it should be thought of as an energy game. For each shot you must understand how much
energy you need to produce. You must also know how the ball will react to the release of your swing’s stored energy. In this light, the swings
of the long game are more concerned with producing and releasing greater energy so to carry the ball greater distances. This makes the
swings of the long game power swings. The swings of the short game tend to be more focused on feeling exactly how accurately you're
applying the energy. We call these swings the feel swings. This does not mean you don't need accuracy in the long game. Nor does it mean
we do not need power in the short game. It simply means there's a greater concern for power in the long game and accuracy in the short
game. So, as we further discuss the physical side of the game, we'll try to become aware of how to apply the appropriate amount of energy
with our swings.
The Mental Game Examined
The Mental Game involves your belief system. Your belief system encompasses your ideas about how to play the game. It involves your
values, your philosophy, and your goals. In short, it involves your mind-set, and within your mind-set you establish your game plan. Your
game plan should have as an integral part a positive outlook. Mentally, you can use optimism to help create an idea of a favorable future.
This will motivate you to work towards something that you're interested in achieving or experiencing. With your beliefs, swing-thoughts, and
positive outlook combined, you'll certainly establish the foundation for a sound mind-set. In other words, you'll create a productive state of
mind - a state of mind from which you can stay focused on the necessary skills.
Your swing-thoughts will help keep your game on track. By focusing on your swing-thoughts, you begin the process of programming each
swing. In this way, your swing-thoughts help streamline your focus, giving your actions direction and purpose. They're the visual pictures
that make up the mental side of your programming. These mental pictures provide the visual basis for the images you need to program your
Your specific game plan may change from month to month, week to week, or even course to course. However, your fundamental game plan
will not. So, take care to combine your swing-thoughts, beliefs, and optimistic outlook into a mind-set that will produce a fundamentally sound
This whole process is filled with traps you might fall into along the way. The nature of our humanity is that we are conscious beings. We are
intellectuals so to speak. Simply put, this means we think too much. When things are going well, we think they cannot last. When things are
going bad, we think, "why me?" As far as sports are concerned, we use our ability to intellectualize things too much. Instead of staying
present to what's happening, our minds take us away from the present. This is one of the key differences between the Mental Game and the
Inner Game. If you're experiencing the inner game, then you're aware and present. On the other hand, when you're in the mental game,
you're detached from the present. Within the mental game, you're generally thinking about something you'll do in the future, thinking about
what has happened in the past, or organizing scenarios through self-conversation. The more you think, the less present you are, and the
more detached you become to what's going on around you; you become "mental," like when someone says sarcastically, "you are mental."
Think of what happens as you prepare to play a shot. As you address the ball you can be aware of the ball, the target, and the feeling of the
swing that connects the two, or you can have a multitude of thoughts run through your head. On your good shots your focus is simple and
clear. However, most of the time your mind is wandering in conversation, "Is this the right club? How far was it again? Can I carry that
bunker? What was that feeling I had yesterday, it worked. Oh no, I heard that truck drive by. Should I start over? No, everybody is waiting.
You're ready. You can do this. Oh well, its time to swing. Whack! Why Do I Do That”!!!
We all have mental conversations as we play. This is because our conscious minds and egos aren't concerned with the present. They don't
care whether we're in tune with the moment, and they don't care whether we're focused or not. They're more concerned with intellectualizing
scenarios and perpetuating self-glory. Our conscious minds are conditioned to be concerned about getting it right, and our egos are
concerned with looking good and saving face. Our inner golfers want us to be present to what's going on around us. Subconsciously we are
always ready to be aware. However, our subconscious mind is generally aware of the fact that we're caught in mental confusion.
To direct your body to swing properly, your subconscious golfer, your inner golfer, needs to have a clear focus. Therefore, when you're
consumed with mental confusion, your inner golfer knows it cannot direct your body to swing properly. In turn the conscious mind will know
that the subconscious mind has no clear focus, and the ego will be concerned that you'll look bad when things go wrong. So the conversation
Even as you learn the fundamental skills, the conscious mind likes to raise questions as to whether these fundamentals are the correct ones
for you. "I know, they worked for Jack Nicklaus, but even he said it was "Golf My Way" which meant it was his way. So how do I know its right
for me? Bobby Jones and Ben Hogan also found their way to play through practice and experimentation. So, how am I to know what's right for
me?" The uncertainty of it all, how do we develop confidence and trust when we aren't sure what we should be doing?
The answers come through practice and awareness. By paying attention to what you're doing, you become aware of how the world works.
This means learning the fundamental skills involves a process of awareness, a process of integration, and a process of internalization.
During this learning period, you must convince yourself to stay committed to the process. You must convince yourself to be patient and allow
the process of learning to finish its natural process. Remember, creating this mind-set is a mental process, and re-committing to this mind-set
will get you back on track when you feel caught in mental confusion.
Once your fundamental skills are internalized and your inner golfer is confident, your ego may still be worried of how the present outcome
may affect your fragile character, and your conscious mind may still have a tendency to raise questions in doubt. They may not trust that
everything will come together without adding in their two cents. So, when in doubt, they'll ask questions, and with new questions come new
mental conversations. Eventually you'll find, that no matter what you do, mental conversations will continue to be a part of your golfing
Even after you reach heightened levels of awareness, these conversations will still present themselves. I'd like to believe that we can reach a
state of understanding where these conversations no longer occur. However, since I haven't reached such a state, and even the most
enlightened people I know continue to experience such conversations, I prefer to consider the possibility that they'll never go away. It just
might be that we will always be a little "mental." Maybe it's the human condition. With this thought, I prepare myself to be mentally tough by
learning how to deal with these conversations as they arise. I choose to try and understand these conversations, and where they come from.
One of the keys becomes learning how to accept the reality of these conversations and how they create distractions. Another key is learning
how to acknowledge their presence. Then let them pass. By acknowledging their presence and letting them go, you once again free your
inner self so it can be aware of what you want to do.
Like everyone, I have reoccurring conversations on the golf course. These reoccurring conversations are usually a response to the negative
situations I perceive while playing competitive golf. It's the same sort of response you have when you're driving your car and you come
across discourteous drivers. We all have the tendency to react to their driving habits. I find myself making comments and discussing their
actions. Of course these discussions are usually with myself, unless someone else is unfortunate enough to be sitting in the seat next to me.
I try to acknowledge that we all make mistakes. I also realize that no matter how courteous you try to be, there's sure to come a time when
your driving habits upset another driver. If you indulge in the mental conversations while driving, you may become victim to "road rage," and
if you indulge the mental conversations on the golf course you may become a victim of "fairway rage." In either case, your experience is sure
to be an unhappy one. However, if you acknowledge that we are all human, and people will be people, including ourselves, you can let the
conversations go and continue on your pleasant way.
The conversations occur in many forms, but they all tell a story. They tell a story because they typically don't address the reality of the
present situation. The conversations instead involve some opinion, perception, judgment, or speculation about the present situation. In
short, these conversations create an illusion. An illusion that's telling a story about what you think is going on around you. The story may, or
may not, be true. The story is most likely hypothesizing what might be, instead of describing what really is. Think about it, if you're talking to
yourself, then you're not paying attention to what's really happening, you're telling yourself a story of what might be, or what might have
been. You may even be predicting why things are happening the way they do. You may be hypothesizing why other people think and act the
way they do. Or, you may be discussing why God, or the golf gods, is treating you so poorly. Try to remember, these conversations are
merely stories that we tell ourselves. They quite often seem real because we tend to dramatize them. However, no matter how much you
dramatize them, no matter how much emotion you try to put into them, they are still just stories. You don't have to buy into the mental
dramas. You can acknowledge them as stories and let them go.
Some experts believe these conversations express the mental dramas that reside deep inside our psyches. Along the same lines, I believe
these mental dramas create our fears, doubts, and uncertainties. Whether these dramas are inherent to the nature of the individual, or
conditioned by our upbringing is a separate argument. The fact is, they exist in all of us, and until we learn how to liberate ourselves from
these mental dramas, we'll have to learn to acknowledge them and let them pass. Only after we let them pass can we get back to living into
our favorable futures.
You can begin to understand how mental dramas work by paying attention to how you react to pressure-filled, or disappointing situations. Do
you blame the pressure on some uncontrollable factor? Do you complain that your pressures are greater than other people’s? Do you
always feel like you get the short end of the stick, or do you feel you always get more bad bounces than anybody else? Sure, some people
have more good luck than others, and some people have more pressure put on them than others. However, we all have to deal with the
obstacles life presents us, and we can all make the most out of our lives. One of the keys becomes accepting our life situation while striving
to reach our goals. Don't complain about your life. Instead, create a positive outlook for yourself. Make a commitment to continually work
towards the image of a favorable future. When life gets difficult, refocus your efforts towards maintaining a positive outlook and striving for a
favorable future. To do this, you must learn to subdue your mental dramas. You must learn to redirect your mental conversations as they
begin. Let the issue that ignites your mental dramas go. Learn to refocus on what you are doing instead of dwelling on your misfortunes.
Yes, I know it’s hard, and it’s harder for some than others. However, complaining about your hardships won't help you reach your goals.
When you feel frustrated, when you find yourself talking your way through a mental drama, take a "mental" time out. Remind yourself to let it
go. Instead of thinking about the situation, take a look around you. Take a deep breath and exhale. Look around you and find something
good about the nature of the situation. Even if you find it hard to let it go, remind yourself to let it go. If you can't let go, tell yourself, "I hate it
when this happens!!! But there's nothing I can do about it now, so get back to paying attention." If you continue to find yourself caught up in
mental dramas, try to identify where this feeling of unfairness comes from. Why do you feel wronged, what's happened in your life that makes
you continue to feel like you're being mistreated by the world? We've all been there, and we all need to overcome these inner feelings. The
fact is, no matter what has happened in the past, we can start over right now to create a more favorable future. We simply need to want it
and commit to it.
I think of the future like a movie I am directing. I can direct a drama, a comedy, a tragedy, a feel-good story, or even an action film. I can
direct whatever type of movie I want my life to be. However, if I'm going to successfully live the type of movie I want to direct, I have to keep
my focus in perspective, I cannot take my bad breaks personally. If I continually complain about my bad breaks, then my movie is sure to
become a drama or tragedy. If I laugh off my mistakes and bad bounces, then my movie may become a comedy. If I allow my struggles and
bad bounces to roll off my back, then my movie may become a feel good success story. The fact is I have to create a mind-set that will allow
me to stay focused on the path to my goals. So, if I'm going to be able to develop my fundamental skills, I need to stay committed to the
process, I need to maintain a consistent focus, and I need to have a fundamental mind-set that does not change every time I experience a
bad break. Furthermore, if I am going to learn to focus at a level of heightened awareness, I cannot be caught up in mental games. I cannot
over run my mind with mental dramas. The more cluttered my mind is with mental dramas, the less attention I'll have left over to be focused
with. Therefore, if I am going to find my inner game, I need to free my mind from the bonds of mental confusion. I need to quiet my conscious
mind of the mental dramas. I need to prepare my inner golfer to pay attention to what's going on around me. In this way, I allow my inner
golfer to both play and experience the type of game I envision for myself. Once again, this means I must keep everything in perspective.
The Inner Game Examined
The inner side of the game involves awareness. Awareness is the key to experience, and the doorway to the inner world. It allows you to
learn passively and perform actively. Through awareness you come to know the mind-body connexion. You come to understand how your
mind and body relate to sensory feedback, and you understand how to use your mind and body together to perform your swings effectively.
The goal of the inner side of the game is to experience a blending of the physical with the mental. Thus, awareness is the mechanism that
allows us to experience the mind-body connexion.
Passive-awareness is the process of learning through sensory feedback, whereas Active-awareness is the process of performing from
sensory input. Therefore, as you learn the fundamental skills, you'll use passive-awareness to first become aware of the skills. Then you'll
use active-awareness to program and act out the skills. Therefore, understanding the process of awareness and how you use it both
passively and actively is the key to the inner side of the game.
Remember, the inner side of the game is about the experience, and to experience something, you must be aware. This is the one common
denominator between every living thing. All living things have at least a basic level of awareness. And with this awareness they're able to
adapt. It's interesting to me that adaptability is one of the criteria that define life, because adaptability assumes the ability to adjust through
awareness. All living things have the ability to adapt, because they have at least a basic level of awareness. To me this is the most important
faculty of life.
In many ways, learning, playing, and performing are about adapting. When you're playing golf, the conditions of the game are always
changing. From day to day, sometimes even swing-to-swing, you feel different. From shot to shot, the factors you need to be aware of are
always changing. Therefore, to play good golf, you have to be good at adapting to the present circumstances. And if you're going to be
good at adapting, then you must be good at being aware of your present situation. So, if you want to adapt, you must be aware. If you want
to learn, you must be aware. If you want to react you must be aware. If you want to act, you must be aware. If you want to perform, you must
be aware. And if you want to perform to your highest ability, then you have to heighten your level of awareness. So, never underestimate
your ability to be aware, and use your awareness to imagine what it is you want to accomplish.
This brings us to the process of imagery. Imagery is important, because imagery is one of the mechanisms you use to perform your skills.
You might say that imagery is an application of awareness. It's a process for applying knowledge learned through your ability to be aware.
It's the application that allows you to use awareness in an active state.
This whole process fascinates me. If you were only able to be passively aware, then you'd be able to understand all the knowledge there is to
know, but you wouldn't be able to act. It's precisely your ability to be actively aware that enables you to act, to adapt, to react, and to perform
the skills you desire to perform. So, passive-awareness is important to the process of learning, where as active-awareness is the key to
performance. And imagery is an application of awareness that directs the skills you desire to perform.
Before you can program the skills, you must learn the skills. When your goal is to learn a new skill, you use passive-awareness to bring
sensory feedback to your inner golfer. Therefore, passive-awareness is the process of using your senses to pay attention to what is
happening as you practice. As you pay attention, the sensory information is automatically transferred to your subconscious screen. When
the information reaches your subconscious screen, it comes together in the form of a visual picture. If this information pertains to a swing,
then it comes together as a swing-thought. As the sensory information reaches your subconscious screen, it also transfers kinesthetic
feelings. When the kinesthetic feelings match up with the visual picture the result is an image. One of the goals of practice is to develop
enough awareness of the activity so that you understand which feelings match up with which swing-thoughts.
As you can see, the process of passive-awareness is anchored in your ability to pay attention. Everybody's attention span is different. Some
people can focus their attention over longer periods of time, others for only short spurts. However, you can learn to lengthen your attention
span. Otherwise you must learn to work within your given attention span, because once your focal energy is exhausted, you'll no longer be
able to pay attention to what you're doing.
Some golfers can practice for hours without exhausting their attention. Others seem to lose attention after 15, 20, or 30 minutes of practice.
The duration of your focal attention may even change due to the task you're learning. I remember watching Jack Renner, a PGA Tour
professional, practice at University of California atSan Diego when I was in college. He would practice on the range for a half hour to forty-five
minutes, then he would leave. Later he would come back for fifteen to twenty minutes of putting. Leave again, hen return for another fifteen
to twenty minutes of putting. Leave again, then return one more time, sometimes for only ten minutes. My team coach asked him one day
why he broke his practice up that way. He said he could only practice for short periods before he lost focus, and if he continued to practice, it
would be wasted time. So, he would leave until he was refreshed, then returned to focus on the task of practicing. He felt he was much more
productive when he practiced in that manner. Therefore, when you find your focus wandering, take a break. Get something to drink, read a
magazine, or have a snack. Then return to your practice when you're ready to focus your attention on what you're trying to learn. You must
be able to pay attention to what you're doing if you're going to learn effectively. If you're not sure whether you're focusing well or not, ask
yourself this question, "Am I paying attention to exactly what it is I'm doing, or is my attention wandering to other thoughts and things?" If
your attention is wandering, try to refocus. If you cannot refocus your attention, then you've reached your focal wall and you need a break.
This whole process describes focus as the ability to direct your attention on any given thing, for any given amount of time. As long as you're
directing your attention toward the action or thing you intend to pay attention to, you're focusing. Just like it takes energy to run, it takes
energy to focus, and when your focal energy runs out you've reached your focal wall. Whenever you run out of energy, whether it's for
running, working, or focusing, you need to take a break. You need to get refreshed. Sometimes you might only need a short break, and
sometimes you'll need to take the rest of the day off. Whatever the case may be, don't waste your time practicing when you cannot pay
attention to what you're practicing. Get some rest and come back ready to focus on those skills you need to play good golf. The more quality
time you spend focusing on the fundamental skills, the faster you'll internalize the image of how to perform them, and the sooner you'll be
able to use your awareness actively.
One of the interesting things about focus is that we only need to focus for about two seconds on each shot. Of course it takes a process of
about 30 seconds to prepare our selves for these two seconds of focus. Why is this? Why does it take us 30 seconds to prepare for two
seconds of focus? I believe it's because very few people actually know what focus is and how to focus. In our everyday activities, our minds
are trained to jump from one focal point to another. From split second to split second, we do not practice keeping our attention on one given
focal point. We're conditioned to have wandering attention instead of focused attention. Therefore, when it's time to focus we do not know
what to do. Besides developing focal endurance, you're going to need to practice the basic skill of staying focused for even a couple of
seconds at a time. Since being focused means focusing your attention on any given thing for any given amount of time, the process of focus
is one of awareness, and is therefore an inner game issue.
Once you've internalized the fundamental golfing images, your next goal is to learn how to apply your understanding actively. The question
becomes how do I use the process of imagery to both program and perform the fundamental skills. Many of these answers will come to you
as you learn through passive-awareness. I can remember beginning awareness exercises with my coach. As I began these exercises I
sometimes wondered, "What am I suppose to be getting out of this drill?" Of course, there was always some fundamental skill we are paying
attention to, but I knew there was supposed to be some deeper meaning in it all. Only I didn't know what that inner meaning was supposed to
be. I was supposed to wait for the experience, and my coach knew that putting it into words would be an injustice to the experience.
Through practice you internalize the image of what you're supposed to do. However, internalizing these images doesn't guarantee you'll
perform them when the appropriate time presents itself. Once you reach the first tee on the golf course, you'll be presented with all kinds of
obstacles. Some of these obstacles are designed by the golf course architect to get you thinking about what might go wrong on the golf
course. Some of these obstacles will come via your playing companions and their desire to beat you in competition. Some of these obstacles
may even appear as inner demons that haunt your desire to play your best golf. Wherever they come from, I guarantee you there will be
obstacles for you to over come, and the only way you're going to over come them is by having trust and confidence in your ability to focus
Once you reach the golf course, your job is to imagine the type of golf you want to play. Imagine what you want to do, and stay focused on
the image. If you stay focused, you'll play well. If you allow your mind to wander to the trouble that lurks ahead, you'll be sure to find the
trouble. If you allow your mind to wander to mental dramas you're sure to find some extra drama in your play. However, if you stay focused
on reacting to good golfing images, you're sure to experience good golf.
So how do we stay focused on the good images? We begin by looking at the shot we want to play next. We choose a safe target area for
our shot to finish in. Then we imagine the flight that will deliver the ball to the target. Once you reach this point, your inner golfer will
instinctively imagine the swing that will accomplish the goal. Your job is to recognize the image your inner golfer provides. As you stay tuned
into the image your inner golfer provides, notice how it looks and feels. Remember, if you don't imagine how it feels, your body will not
respond. Your body does not understand thinking or visualizations. Therefore, your body does not understand swing-thoughts. It only
understands how the motion feels. Visualize what you want to do so that your mind has something to focus on, and imagine how it feels so
that your body has something to react to. In this way, the visualization, or swing-thought, keeps your mind from wandering in conversation. It
keeps your mind focused on the task at hand. Imagining the feeling programs the sensory information your body needs to perform the
swinging motions. Therefore, images are a blending of the necessary feelings with the necessary visual swing-thoughts. It's only by
committing to this process of imagery that you can be certain to achieve the desired performance. So, active-awareness is the process of
programming, committing to, and responding to the images that capture the experience of the swing you want to perform. Remember, these
images are provided by your inner golfer. You just need to look for them.
It's my experience that most people can learn to internalize the fundamental images quite easily. However, being aware of these images as
your inner golfer provides them takes a little more time. I believe this is because we are not taught how to focus as we grow up. We are told
to pay attention, but we are not taught how to pay attention actively. We aren't given tasks, or exercises, to heighten our awareness. We are
not conditioned to be aware. We're conditioned to think before we act, and to adhere to the social order of things. We're chastised for our
mistakes, instead of taught to learn from our experiences. Therefore, when it comes time to be focused, to trust in our skills and our
educations, we're afraid to act. We are less concerned with being confident in ourselves, and in trusting our abilities than we're guarding
against making mistakes.
However, the fact remains, no matter how thoughtful you might be, you'll still make mistakes if you don't pay attention to what you're doing.
So learn to trust in your skills, learn to use your confidence to get out of those mental conversations and back into focusing on the images
your inner golfer provides. Trust your golfing skills like you trust your walking skills. When you want to walk, you imagine walking somewhere,
and you trust in your skills. You're confident. You know what it feels like to walk freely, so you trust yourself to walk freely. Sure, sometimes
you trip on a crack when you're not paying attention, but you don't panic. You don't think, "What's wrong with me, I've forgotten how to
walk?" You simply acknowledge that you were not paying attention, and you simply refocus on walking where you want to go.
Focusing on golf should be the same. When you make a poor swing, you should not panic. You should refocus, and get back to trusting
your swing. Therefore, once you've learned the proper skills through passive-awareness, you'll venture deeper into the inner game. You'll
encounter active-awareness and your abilities to have confidence and trust in the images your inner golfer provides.
So how do we develop confidence in our skills, and how do we learn to trust our inner golfer. I believe we
condition confidence and trust through experience. Through passive-awareness we learn what actions accomplish our goals, and what
actions do not. We develop an understanding of what works and what does not. The more often we focus our attention on what works, the
more confidence we have in the process of awareness. The next step becomes committing to the process often enough that you begin to
find trust in your ability to maintain the focus. In the beginning, you may only focus well 2 or 3 out of 10 times. Over time, you'll learn to focus
5 or 6 out of 10 times. Then eventually you'll learn to stay focused 8 or 9 out of 10 times. However, you'll only reach this point if you stay
committed to one approach to the game. In other words, you must maintain your original game plan. If you keep switching game plans, you'll
never experience what the original game plan had to offer.
The fact is, it takes thousands of repetitions to internalize our physical skills into habits, and then it takes even longer for us to condition
ourselves to trust our inner golfer. So, having confidence in your skills comes from experiencing how the process achieves your inner goals.
Without the realization of this inner experience, I believe we can only be optimistic about our skills. Once you have the inner trust to achieve
your goals, you're truly confident.
Therefore, confidence and trust come from experiencing your inner goals. And to achieve your inner goals, you must react to the images
your inner golfer programs through active-awareness. Before your inner golfer can actively program these images, you must learn the
proper images through a process of passive-awareness. This means you must pay attention to what's happening as you practice. To stay
on track, you must be committed to a productive mind-set. A mind-set that will help you refocus your attention when the mental dramas try to
take over the moment. Your mind-set will have as a part of its game plan a basic understanding of the physical skills you need to perform.
You will also have to condition your body through physical fitness so that your body can actually perform the skills. Lastly you will experience
the connexion between mind and body by developing an inner game.
This whole process involves combining the physical, mental, and inner sides of the game into one cohesive style of play. I hope it's obvious
by now, if you lack any part of the fundamental trilogy, you'll never be satisfied with your game. So, as we embark on the next section, try to
keep your mental process in perspective, and learn to use your inner skills to become aware of how to play golf.
|If you take the time to study this website in detail, you will find out that the swing sequence shown above is
representative of what the New Horizons Golf Approach identifies as a right anchor golf swing. This swing
style is a very traditional style. In the top right picture of this sequence, not how the weight is loaded on the
right side. The left shoulder has coiled over the right foot, and his spine is angled away from the target.
As he unwinds his head stays behind the ball and over the right foot for a very long time.