The Hot Hand Fallacy in Golf

Today I want to talk about something that we see all too often in sports, but misinterpret.  

It is called the “Hot Hand Fallacy.” 

Originally applied to poker and basketball, the hot hand fallacy explains that each time a player makes a shot or gets a good card, their chances of success do NOT increase the next time around.  Just because a basketball player makes two shots outside the arc in a row does not mean that they are any more likely to do it again.  

But you might wonder why the athlete continues to make the shots even though their chances of making the shot has not increased?  What produces that hot streak that we see on Sportscenter all so often?  

Confidence.

If you have made two 15 footers in a row, you are no more statistically likely to make another, yet the ball seems to scare the hole every single time thereafter.

Some might refer to this as being in the zone.  

I refer to it as momentum. 

But we all know how hard it is to create this kind of momentum/confidence/flow state out of nowhere!  So what can we do?

Well, I have found one technique to be rather helpful, which stays consistent with the results of the “hot hand fallacy.” 

Next time you have a difficult golf shot, close your eyes for 1 minute and replay the last three holes in your mind perfectly.   Although it isn’t quite as effective as actually hitting perfect shots for three holes in a row, it is better than nothing.  If you practice this technique enough, you will be able to convince your subconscious mind that you have actually hit those shots, which in turn gives you those “hot hands” you have been looking for.

It won’t work every time, but is a nice tool to have in your repertoire.