Putting Psychology and Golf Hypnosis into Perspective at PGA Championship





Putting Psychology and Golf Hypnosis into Perspective at PGA Championship

Putting was clearly very difficult for all the players at Hazeltine in the 2009 PGA Championship, especially in terms of putting psychology. Now we all saw Tiger Woods missing a lot of mid-range putts that we’d normally expect him to see and I’ve already written about how those were the result of his uneasiness about the swirling wind. I’m more concerned here with a number of really crucial putts missed by Lee Westwood and the massive number of short putts missed by Vijay Singh.

In my humble opinion, Lee Westwood is striking the ball as well as he ever has, especially in the major championships. As a result, he keeps getting himself into contention in the last round before throwing away the opportunity in the last nine holes on Sunday. How many times did he miss apparently easy putts at Hazeltine, including a three putt from not much more than 3 feet? At the Open Championship we saw him three-putt the 72nd hole after recovering well from a few bad putts earlier in the round. The same sort of thing has plagued him for such a long time that it can’t just be coincidence and I keep reading about Lee working with golf psychologists, so it can’t be that; or can it?

Well, I’ve seen Lee’s name mentioned as a client of a number of high-profile golf psychologists here in the UK, like Dr Karl Morris and Jamil Qureshi, the official psychological performance coach for the European Ryder Cup team last year. I also noticed, in the Westwood Academy page on Lee’s website, that the list of sessions participants will receive includes psychology.

Imagine my surprise when I heard about Lee’s comments about golf psychologists in an interview at Hazeltine. “Look at them all,” he said, “They all look a bit odd, like they need to see somebody, I find it hard to take anybody like that seriously.” He continued by saying, “Well, they do. I’m sorry. That’s the way I see it. I’ve always felt mentally quite stable. Don’t feel like I need it.” He must have forgotten what he said in an interview at the PGA Championship 4 years earlier when he explained how he was using a golf psychologist to help him think a little bit clearer.

So Lee, if you aren’t using a golf psychologist, then perhaps you need one now. And if you are using one, maybe you need more help in that area.

So, taking my tongue firmly out of my cheek, I’ll move on quickly to Vijay Singh.

Vijay was majestic all through this year’s PGA Championship, as he almost always is, from tee to green. Sadly, trying lots of golf psychology tricks, doubtless including telling himself what a great putter he is, his putting was absolutely awful. In fact, if he’d putted in all four rounds as well as Tiger did on Sunday, he would have won by a street.

Now clearly Vijay is very strong psychologically and that shows through in his focus and belief in his long game. Any lesser mortal would be so overwhelmed by his psychological failure on the greens that they would lose their long game confidence as well. He’s also strong physically and we know how hard he works on his game. So why doesn’t someone help him to apply that psychological strength to his putting. I’m not a teaching pro and I can see that there’s nothing much physically wrong with his putting stroke, whichever length or style of putter he’s using.

So does Vijay make use of the services of a golf psychologist? Well, my research says yes. And it also says no! Yes, Vijay is a long term client of Dr Joseph Parent, the highly respected corporate speaker, PGA Tour instructor and best-selling author of “Zen Golf: Mastering the Mental Game.” He’s also often quoted in support of Dr Parent’s work.

On the other hand, in an interview at the 2009 Masters, when asked if he works with a sports psychologist, he responded “Not really. I can’t say I’ve actually worked with anyone.” He added, “I’ve worked with Joe Parent, who wrote Zen Golf, two or three years ago, but we kind of discussed – he probably learned some from me and I learned some from him. So it was kind of a give-and-take thing.”

I was also intrigued to find the marketing blurb about Dr Parent’s “Putting with Confidence” video and read the question, “Tired of missing short putts under pressure? Learn how to turn those “knee-knockers” into “tap ins” and never miss a three-footer again! Does your putting frustrate you?” I guess that Vijay ought to watch that video!

So far, the only golf psychology quote I’ve found from Vijay about putting suggests that he’s been using affirmations to convince himself that he’s the best putter. How exactly is that going to work when he consistently disproves that with his poor putting?

So what’s the solution for Lee Westwood and Vijay Singh? Normally, I’d recommend they see a golf psychologist. They already seem to be doing that and with highly respected and well qualified golf mind coaches. The problem appears to be that whatever they’re doing it’s not working automatically at the most critical time for these players. That means it’s not part of their unconscious habits and beliefs.

All three golf psychologists are very experienced with a wealth of wonderful golf psychology techniques to help their clients. So it looks to me like these clients are trying to implement the techniques consciously using will-power. If you’re a regular reader of my articles, you won’t be surprised to hear that I think that Lee and Vijay should be using hypnosis to install these ideas into their unconscious golf minds – as habits and beliefs.

Andrew Fogg, the Golf Hypnotist, is an enthusiastic golfer, hypnotherapist and NLP Master Practitioner. He is a practicing golf psychologist and author of a soon to be published book The Secrets of Hypnotic Golf and a series of golf hypnosis MP3 programmes.

Visit his website for information on how to get the most success, pleasure and enjoyment from the wonderful game of golf. More specifically, it is about how to improve your golf by working on the 90 percent of the game that is played in the 6 inches between your ears.

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