We come together from around the state to represent our clubs in the 2018 Golf Victoria Women’s Pennant season. Women’s Pennant matches are fiercely contested, with all players representing their Club with pride and passion.
I’ve been lucky enough to be apart of our Kingston Heath Division two Friday team. We have had a very successful season finishing 2nd on the ladder, cementing ourselves into Division one for 2019. The standard of competition was extremely even over the eight competing clubs which made for a very exciting and nail biting finish to decide who would get a finals birth !
Congratulations to Green Acres Golf Club and Kingston Heath Golf Club who will compete for the Div 2 Flag on Friday at Yarra Yarra Golf Club, Good Luck to everyone.
So this got me thinking that this next article could not only be very timely for all players competing on Friday but for all golfers.
FINDING THE POSITIVE HEADING INTO FINALS WEEK…
When people are engaged in a skilled behaviour, such as the sport of golf, their perceptions have been shown to relate to their performance.
We don’t realise that just about everything going on in our lives can affect our golf. A sick loved one, being late for the tee, chaos at home, important work situations, impending deadlines, too many things to do, pressure to play well, dreading the weather and fear of losing, will all affect our psychomotor skills, our ability to control our swing, our tempo and our course management skills. It will be evident in our posture, our reaction to a bad shot, the speed in which we swing and walk and even in the attitude of our conversation. Our idiosyncrasies (one’s own temperaments) will match what is going on at golf. Mind/Brain/Cognitive over activity is stress and stress increases muscle tension. Increased muscle tension affects our swing.
There is much to support this in the literature with many studies showing that if we can control and structure our thoughts there will be an improvement in our golf. Our external golf traits will also have to reflect control, rhythm, calmness and resilience.
Thomas and Over (1994) showed that better golfers had better mental preparation, a higher level of concentration, fewer negative emotions and more commitment to golf than higher handicap players.
Better golfers don’t get angry at bad shots, missed putts or even slow players. They practice creating an invisible shield from stress, frustration and calamity out on the course. They never rush, never fuss and are never lost in conversation as they know that it all can be a distraction. If you are distracted it will affect your ability to produce a controlled motor pattern (swing).
Weinberg and Genuchi (1980) showed that lower levels of competitive trait anxiety produced a significantly higher level of performance in golf.
Even something simple and positive will help your golf. Witt et al (2008) showed that golfers who played better, judged the hole (cup) to be bigger than did golfers who did not play well.
It’s amazing that something so simple, such as imagining the bigger cup size, can have a measurable positive effect. This of course can be extrapolated to similar situation out on course. For example standing on the tee imagining the feel of the swing of a perfect drive and picturing the ball flight as Jason Day does or rehearsing in your head the flow and projection of a great bunker shot you are faced with.
Approaching a shot with dread or even indifference has been shown not to work. Woolfolk et al (1985) showed a significant main effect on performance at golf. They had 3 groups (positive imagery, negative imagery and no imagery) positive producing the most improvement, neutral a bit less and negative imagery resulting in actual performance deterioration. There is a take home lesson here.
So if you are 50m from the pin with a bunker between you and the green.
- Don’t start worrying about going in the bunker (negative imagery)
- Stop gasbagging and worrying what others are doing (distraction)
- Don’t stand over the ball in 2 minds about your club selection (negative imagery)
- Imagining the perfect shot. The height of the ball flight, your landing position and the feel of a good positive, committed swing. (positive, positive, positive imagery)
- Pull the trigger with confidence.
- If you go in the bunker don’t get upset. (stress=will affect next swing)
- Imagining a perfect bunker shot. (positive)
- Imagining getting up and down. (possible)
- Play with poise, balance, flow, commitment.
- Enjoy the challenge.
Don’t expect to be an expert at this straight away. Many Pro’s and good players take years to perfect this part of the game. Good books on the way our mind, our behaviour, our imagery and our belief systems that affect our golf performance can be purchased.
Some good examples are Nick O’Hern – ‘Tour Mentality’. Nick in his book cites an example where he has a pocket full of tees and transfers a tee into the opposite pocket each time he has a negative thought out on course. He was surprised how quickly his pocket emptied !
Another author is Bob Rotella who has written many books such as “Putting out of your mind’.
Bob doesn’t write about technical stroke description as he is an expert in helping us understand what makes us play well, enjoy the game, have fun no matter what – and isn’t that what it’s all about !
I’ve met so many wonderful women over this Pennant season and I’m going to miss seeing all those faces but we won’t have to wait long because Pennant has been moved forward to February in 2019, so get practicing ladies it’ll be here before we know it.
Happy Golfing – Nikki xx