There is a theory that explains why golf
is so mentally challenging.
This theory says that that the more 'point of contact'
you have with the ball in your sport,
the easier it is for you to concentrate.
For example: in tennis, basketball, and
volleyball you have more contact with the ball
than in golf.
Even in hockey, where the best players
only handle the puck for approximately 14
seconds a game, this is more point of contact
than in golf.
In addition, golf can be a highly
competitive game, but it's also a social
game. You can play by yourself, but
we usually play in two-somes and four-somes
where you socialize.
And finally: there is the distraction of bad
shots, especially if you are a recreational
player. We lose our focus on the present,
and start thinking about past and future shots.
That's why I say that the unique mental
challenge of golf is that it demands total
concentration under difficult circumstances.
Arnold Palmer, who won four Masters
titles, remembers the price he paid for
losing his concentration there:
'As I walked down the fairway approaching
my second shot, a friend of mine in the gallery
hollered at me and I violated one of the golden
rules of playing tournament golf. I walked over
to him and shook hands.
By doing that, I lost my total concentration and
ended up making a six on 18, and lost the
Masters. That was devastating.'
Mental Toughness Exercise
To improve your concentration,
I suggest you go play by yourself.
Go early in the morning, when the course is
usually empty, and do not use a scorecard.
Being alone will reduce your distractions.
Without your score card, you will learn to
divorce your shots from your results.
When you play, bring your focus into the
NOW. Use your pre-shot routine and practice
turning on your concentration before hitting.