The mental aspects of golf fascinate me at my age compared to my youth. When I was young, it was all about “grip it and rip it and go find it in the woods.” Now, I like the strategy of the game and holding onto my mental fortitude as longs I can or until the drink cart comes around and I can get a frozen Snickers bar. Dr. Bob Rotella is a sports psychology pro and helps golfers focus their mental game. In Golf is Not a Game of Perfect, he delves into how to play to your best all the time; especially when things go wrong.
Dr. Rotella’s Approach
This book uses countless stories from Dr. Rotella’s career of not only helping golfers of varying degrees of skill including to professionals like Tom Kite but other athletes like college basketball players. I really enjoyed his style of working on mental focus versus swing mechanics. This will alter the players approach to the game and results. Dr. Rotella advises:
On the first tee, you should have two immediate goals. One is to have fun. The other involves the process of playing, not the results. The goal is to get your mind where it’s supposed to be on every shot. If you do that, you’ll shoot the best score you’re capable of shooting that day, whether it’s 67 or 107.
I always want to hit my first drive in play. Now, my focus will shift to focusing on each shot and not the past shots or possible future shots.
Golf is Not a Game of Perfect Favorite Passage
The passage in Golf is Not a Game of Perfect that I think pays dividends for high handicaps (say it loud and proud) is the chapter of Let the Short Game Flow. How many times have you scored three shots chipping back and forth over the green? Dr. Rotella describes the importance of the short game as follows:
…Everything that happens from the tee to that 120-yard range is almost insignificant compared with what happens thereafter. In fact, I’ll occasionally tell a player that I don’t care what he does with his long game – whether he focuses on a target and follows a routine or not – as long as he tries what I suggest about wedging, chipping, and putting.
Take your time to practice your short game. 70% to 80% of your time on the range should be wedges and chips. Get the ball to 120 yards and then let your short game do the rest. Dr. Rotella boasts,
A solid short game can turn a hacker who can’t hit more than a weak banana ball off the tee into a player who shoots in the low 80s or high 70s.
Think on that nugget of truth.
Appendix of this book is a list of rules Dr. Rotella has devised to help golfers. These could be considered observations, affirmations, or inspiration quotes. Here are just a few:
- Free will is a golfer’s greatest source of strength and power. Choosing how to think is a crucial decision.
- Golf is a game played by human beings. Therefore, it is a game of mistakes. Successful Golfers know how to respond to mistakes.
- Attitude makes a good putter.
Buy, Borrow, or Bypass
This book is a BUY for me. There is a lot to absorb in the first reading. My dad saw it on my coffee table and asked to borrow it. His friend recommended it and my dad passed on the recommendation for the blog. if you liked Zen Golf, you will like this book as well.
Other Books by Dr. Rotella
- Putting Out of Your Mind (1996)
- Golf is a Game of Confidence (1996)
- Golfer’s Mind (2004)