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Monday, April 8, 2013

Get Your Golf Mind in the Right Place

John Kennedy, Westchester Country Club
John Kennedy
Coaching pros is one thing, but if you want to do something hard, try coaching amateur golfers for years and years the way John Kennedy has. Kennedy is the Director of Golf at Westchester Country Club and winner of numerous national PGA of America honors including the 2010 Horton Smith Award, which recognizes individuals for their outstanding contributions to PGA education.

I talked to Kennedy about his advice for developing a solid mental game. Here are his sage recommendations:

“The first tee can be tough. When there are people watching, you usually play worse. If you have a consistent process, though, it doesn’t matter if it’s the first tee or the last.”

“For every additional swing thought you have, you add ten to twenty percent physical tension. If you have four mechanical thoughts when you stand up to the ball, you’re going to add 75% more tension.”

“Your mind is filled with past experiences. You want to remember the good ones. If you’re thinking about the last missed putt, that’s obviously not a good place to be.”

“To play successfully, you have to have a process. If you have two or three different ones, it’s hard to repeat. Most people have a practice process, a casual round process, and a competition process. The competition process usually involves an extra fifteen seconds of time and more thinking, which doesn’t work. They get too serious and they perform poorly.”

“The physical precedes the mental. If you’re a thirty handicap, you can think good thoughts but you’re still not going to hit the ball like a ten.”

“If you don’t have time to practice, don’t try to change your swing. If you’re trying to change a motor skill, you need a coach and you have to do a lot of repetitions. You’re better off staying with your own grooved swing and just playing the flight of the ball.”

“People who are grateful for what they have make great progress as opposed to those who are grousing all the time. If you commit yourself to appreciating the game, the company you’re with, and the surroundings, I guarantee your game will improve.”

Among many other books, Dave Donelson is the author of Weird Golf: 18 tales of fantastic, horrific, scientifically impossible, and morally reprehensible golf

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