"I never hit a shot, not even in practice without having a very sharp, in focus picture of it in my head. It’s like a colour movie. First I see the ball where I want it to finish, nice and white and sitting up high on bright green grass. Then the scene quickly changes and I see the ball going there: its path, trajectory and shape, even its behavior on landing. Then there is a sort of fade out and the next scene shows me making the kind of swing that will turn the previous image into reality"

Jack Nicklaus, US Masters Champion. “Golf My way” Simon and Schuster


Golfers may be the group most involved with visualisation, see the Jack Nicklaus quote above.  But has it always been like this?  I am going to quote, without comment, from Ursula Markham

“Nearly all golfers make a practice swing before they actually swing at the ball. it doesn’t make the slightest difference – they play a duff shot anyway.


Long ago, there lived a golfer who went beyond the simple act of practicing his swings. He had a strong ability to envision himself hitting the ball with just the right amount of force and precision. He visualized the ball soaring through the air and landing perfectly on the green. All these mental images were crystal clear in his mind's eye. Eventually, he took a real swing with his club and his muscle memory, influenced by his vivid preconception, allowed him to reproduce the same level of effort and accuracy he had imagined. This helped to dramatically improve his golf game. Although his friends did not know what was happening inside his mind, they attributed his success to his practice swings and began to copy him. And that is why golfers still take practice swings today!


And of an experiment with a very sceptical Barry Westwood on T.V. Romark wrote –


“We placed a matchbox on the carpet, fifteen feet from Barry who was holding a golf putter.  I put him through the …procedure of imagining that he was successfully striking the ball so that it should hit the matchbox on the carpet.  He duly visualised the full details on this process.    I then asked him to turn his back and (go through) the process again.


After he had done this, Barry put his imagined feat into a reality.


The result was absolute success.  At my request Barry hit the ball repeatedly – no fewer than seven times.  Each time he succeeded in striking the match box.”

Ursula Markham -


You could utilize either of These excerpts as they make great metaphors with golfing clients.


To address the aforementioned issues, golfers can utilize techniques such as "focus of attention," or "trigger" methods. The "trigger" technique can be especially useful since golfers often have a strong inclination towards ritual and habit, such as consistently placing their bag in the same position in relation to the tee. By utilizing this as a trigger, golfers can redirect their focus and emotions in a positive direction.


The key message for golfers is to maintain complete concentration on the present shot. They can tap into their past successes and bring to mind the skills, methods, and mental attitudes that were effective then, and adapt and enhance them for the current situation.


Nevertheless, it is important to bear in mind that many of the challenges that sports clients encounter are not unique to them. These challenges can arise from the way in which our minds form associations, the adoption of negative attitudes, or patterns that were developed based on past experiences.


Case Study

The Middle-Aged Golfer - This man had been an avid golfer for over 20 years, but his game had suddenly taken a turn for the worse. He came to me feeling frustrated and helpless, unable to explain why his once consistent swing had become erratic and unpredictable.


I started by using the PACE Brain Gym Exercise which helps to create rapport plus a mind body balance for the goal of a consistent swing


We then  delved into his memories, using The Focused Awareness Technique and then Timeline Techniques, he recalled a particular round of golf where he had played exceptionally well, beating his personal record. However, shortly after the round, his golfing partner made a comment that stuck with him: "Wow, you played really well for your age!" The client had always prided himself on his abilities regardless of age, but this comment began to eat away at his confidence.


Over time, he started to doubt his abilities and became overly focused on his age. He would compare himself to younger golfers and feel discouraged, believing that his best days were behind him.


We were able to reframe his thinking and rebuild his self-esteem. We focused on the positive aspects of his game and his love for golf, rather than his age. By the end of our sessions, he was able to approach the game with renewed confidence and enjoyment, and his performance improved significantly.


This experience was a reminder that a golfer's mental state and self-perception can greatly impact their game.

it is important to approach sports clients with an understanding that their struggles may stem from common human emotions and response


It is no coincidence that golfers make up a large proportion of my clientele. The complexity of their problems is unmatched, yet the methods outlined in this course can offer solutions to many of their needs.


Despite spending hours on the golf course for an eighteen-hole round, a player only spends a few minutes actually hitting the ball, making each swing a crucial moment in the game. The tension that builds up during this time, as the player focuses on each swing, can be immense.


The time between shots, as the player walks from green to green and engages in conversation, can be just as stressful. The pressure to perform well on the next hole, especially if the player is aware that the game may depend on it, can be overwhelming. Conversely, if the player believes they made a mistake on a previous hole, the doubts and negative thoughts can fester and affect their performance.


The psychological games played between players can also have a significant impact on the game. Negative suggestions/ comments can affect a player's mindset, leading to mistakes and poor performance.


Golfers often use tactics to throw their opponents off their game, such as highlighting the dangers of a particular hole to make them overly cautious and concentrate on the danger as opposed to the shot, or making negative suggestions like, “you won’t go into the bunker, will you?”  These mind games can be played during friendly conversations as players move around the course, giving the opponent plenty of time to become agitated and distracted.


Furthermore, unlike most other sports where competitors are only aware of their opponents when they are in close proximity, in golf, the opponent is standing and watching every move, which can be nerve-wracking.


The seriousness of the game for both amateur and professional players is evident in the prices charged for innovative club designs and gadgets aimed at improving stance and swing. Golf may seem like a leisurely sport, but the mental and physical demands of the game are not to be underestimated.