newsletter: The Saturday Golfer
Is Golf Really 99% Mental?

Last updated Nov 03, 2023

Is Golf Really 99% Mental?

They say golf is 99% mental, but is it really? In this issue, I'll break down why this may not be true.

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Written By: Zach Gollwitzer

Posted in: Golf Mental Game

The debate over how much of golf is mental vs. how much is physical has gone on for ages.

Is golf really 99% mental?

I don't think so.

When I first started the game, I kept hearing the saying that "golf was 99% mental". As a young and naive player, I didn't take this advice to heart. I practiced and practiced and practiced, and saw some amazing results. All I thought about was my golf swing or finding the best equipment to use.

But that's expected—fast early progress is just a phase of learning a new sport.

Unfortunately, these "quick wins" wear off eventually, and that's what happened to me as I began competitive college golf.

During my early days of collegiate golf, I began to realize that practice wasn't enough.

So I took the next logical step and bought a bunch of mental game books to read. I devoured them. I learned all of the best thoughts to think out there on the golf course. I was ready.

And right out of the gates, I saw a dramatic improvement in my game; often breaking par on courses that would have previously ate my lunch.

So I doubled-down.

I stepped back from practicing my swing and went all-in visualizing my success out there on the course. I got lazy with my practice routine because it seemed pointless.

Until it wasn't...

The next season was my worst season ever. Out of nowhere.

How could this happen??

After 6 months of beating my head against a wall on the course and draining my previously nurtured confidence, I finally decided that it was time to look at my golf swing on video.

What I saw next would forever change my perception of the myth that golf is 99% mental...

My golf swing had become an atrocity. I had been so caught up trying to perfect my mental game that I forgot to work on my swing mechanics.

So in golf, does the chicken or egg come first when it comes to low golf scores?

Does confidence come from winning, or does winning come from confidence?

I think that you'll find that confidence in golf is a product of both physical practice and mental preparation. They are not mutually exclusive.

You cannot neglect any part of your game for too long or it will rear its ugly head at some point when you're least expecting it.

Golf is a balancing act—work on the areas of your game that you struggle with, but don't forget to nurture your strengths too!

So as you go into the week, ask yourself these questions:

  1. Is there a strong part of your game that you haven't practiced in a long time?
  2. What parts of golf have you never practiced? Here are a few to spark ideas:
    1. Mental game
    2. Driving
    3. Fairway woods
    4. Long irons
    5. Short irons
    6. Wedges
    7. Chipping
    8. Pitching
    9. Bunker shots
    10. Punch shots
    11. "Go-to" shots
    12. Putting
    13. Course management and decision-making
    14. Alignment and posture
    15. Partial wedge shots
  3. What is your most common mental mistake on the course? What is one thing you could practice that would help you avoid this mistake next time?

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