Along with rain-gear, the mental game (MG) and being in the moment were very much in fashion on Friday when playing in the RI EWGA Rally for the Cure tournament. Allison, Suzie, Lynn and I were a great team who quickly learned to work together for a common purpose. Our purpose - Get the ball in the holes with as few strokes as possible and have fun while we were doing it, all for a good cause. Yes, we also talked about the possibility of winning, especially after birdies and one eagle and the realization of how far under par we were. To our mental game credit, we put those thoughts aside to focus on the tasks at hand which accounted some of the most enjoyable experiences of the day. We cheered for each others’ successes which became our team success (we were in a Scramble format) and we continued to surprise ourselves with not just how good or not so good the shots were but how we continued to make the most of every lie. We talked, we consulted, we disagreed at times and came to consensus with just about every shot. We even developed a plan for protecting the “pink” ball which had to be returned if we were going to have a chance to win.
If you were at Wentworth Hills in Plainville, MA you would have heard us cheer and then you would have seen us high-five as we landed tee shots on the green, sunk 15 foot putts with (near) impunity and used our optional mulligans strategically. We were our own gallery.
And after the high fives and laughter all around you would have seen and heard us - “back in the moment” - “we have this shot to play” - “let’s take the yoga pose if that helps.” At one point all 4 of us were standing on the Tee Box, balanced on one foot, hands in prayer position, breathing slowly and intentionally. The pose was totally spontaneous and fun and accomplished its purpose: Getting back to thinking about what to do right now. We were the mental game gurus!
The “mental game” is simply using the power of the mind to improve performance. The “mental game of sport” is simply using the power of the mind to improve athletic performance, as an individual and as a team. The “mental game of golf” is based on the idiosyncracies of golf such as lots of time on the course, very little time actually striking the ball, the fact that the darn ball just sits there waiting, the pre-shot, post-shot, between shot routines, etc. Golf is usually about individual performance. A scramble is about the team effort.
Most athletes know something about the mental game of sport but doing what should be done can take a back seat to what’s happening in us (emotions) and what’s happening all around us (other people, distractions, scores and the like). The mental game of golf has more elements than breathing, being in the moment and having a great attitude and fun with each other but these are all important parts of the game. Last Friday, we put some of the basics of what we know into practice perhaps because I was referred to as “coach” and the mental aspects of the game couldn’t easily be ignored or forgotten. Whatever the reasons, we added the mental game to our scramble play which gave us a competitive edge. And it was great fun. And we scored well.