The Mental Game


Mental Insights from the Experts


April 2009



The mental game is one of the most important parts of the golf game. It's imperative to be strong mentally in order to score your best. There are many paths for becoming mentally poweful. We have interviewed some of the top mental coaches in the country to give you some options to explore. J.L. Lewis has worked with many mental coaches over the years and has learned something from each one. We have interviewed J.L. to get his insights to his mental game and have complimented his insights with some views from the top mental coaches in the country. Each mental coach has a gift to give. Choose the ideas that work the best for you.


Q: What is the most important thing you talk to athletes about to help them improve their results?


J.L. Lewis

J.L. Lewis: I think the most important thing for an athlete to understand in order to improve their results is explained by John Wooden in his quote about results and success. “If you have prepared yourself to the best of your ability and you give your absolute best effort on and off the court to be the best you can be then you should be satisfied, because that is success, whether you win or you lose.” (Wooden, ) This means that the effort is more important than the result.  You must take into account ability level when you look at results.  If you have done everything in your power to prepare and compete at your highest level, you are successful.  I would rather play my best and lose than play poorly and win,  because I realize that I cannot play poorly and expect to beat players of equal ability level. Read More...


Q: How important is a golfer’s state of mind and its impact on their ability to perform at their best?


Maureen Mahoney

Maureen Mahoney: A golfer's state of mind is tremendously important. Many coaches have said that their athletes win or lose the game or the race before the event actually begins. How? It's all about the athlete's state of mind. Read more...If a golfer is anxious and nervous it will inhibit his or her flexibility, flow, ease, and the ability to "give their all" in their swing or putt. If the golfer's mind or thoughts are cluttered with a recent upset or problem, his or her attention and thoughts will drain his mental energy. As a result, there is less available mental strength to focus on the game. When a golfer can put 100% of his or her mind or thoughts into their game and all the details of it, they play their best. Read more...


Q: What’s the best way to handle erratic emotions on the golf course?


Patrick Cohn

Patrick Cohn: Erratic emotions usually result from players who become easilyfrustrated when they are not playing up to their expectations. Emotional control is the ability to stay even tempered, level headed, and have a calm mind when you are upset about bad shots or any mistake. I teach my golf students two critical areas they must address in order to stay emotionally in control during a round. Read more...


Q: What recommendations do you have for athletes to assist in overcoming an injury?


Jayne Johnson

Jayne Johnson: To overcome an injury would first, of course, require physical treatment – that’s #1. But from a mental aspect, I recommend a somewhat unorthodox approach, and that is to track what happened, when did it happen, who was around, and in general being as cognizant as possible of how the injury occurred. This kind of thorough inspection of an injury can sometimes expedite the healing process. Read more...


Q: What is the importance of the pre-shot routine in golf and what type of pre-shot routine would you recommend?


Dr. Deborah Graham and Jon Stabler:Learningastrongmental pre-shot routine is the single mostimportant thing you can do to improve your mental game, and your golf. Your mental routine must compliment yourlearning style, ease you into narrowingyourfocus, free you tohitathletic, artistic, creative, right brain shots or putts, and tap intoyour powers of self-fulfilling prophesy! Aneffective mental pre-shot routine simplifiesyour thoughts, makes the game easier, allows youto think the same for every shot and putt, whether it is to win the Masters or a friendly round with your friends. Read more...

Deborah Graham
Jon Stabler


Q: What process (or method) would you recommend to assist golfers in performing their best?


David Wright

Dr. F. David Wright: While the fundamentals of golf are important, like posture, grip and alignment, the most fundamental thing we do as human beings and as golfers is breathing. Most golfers (and people in general) don't realize that there are fundamentals to breathing properly for optimal mental performance on the golf course and in life. Read more...