Golf psychology plays an extremely important role in helping players to achieve success in golf. To quote Henry Ford; “Whether you think you can, or you think you can’t, you’re right”. Sun Tzu said; “Every battle is won first before it is ever fought”. And Bobby Jones said; “Golf is a game that is played on a five-and-a-half inch course…the space between your ears”.
Golfers have been using psychological approaches to try to achieve peak performance for many decades. Jack Nicklaus was an advocate of visualisation throughout his career, claiming he “went to the movies” before every shot. Gary Player attributed his wins in the US Masters and British Open in 1974 to self-hypnosis. Several prominent professionals on the US Tour during the 1970s and early 1980s – most notably Tom Watson – were psychology graduates. This was also the period when the popular Inner Game of Golf book by Timothy Gallwey was published.
In more recent times, techniques such as neuro-linguistic programming (NLP) are being used by mind coaches to help players boost confidence and self-belief, remain calm and focused under pressure, and overcome problems like the yips.
Noted psychologists and mental game coaches in the modern era include Karl Morris, Pia Nilsson, Richard Coop, Dr. Patrick Cohn, Gio Valiante, Fran Pirozzolo, Louise Ellis and Dr. Bob Rotella.