Mental Game FAQ

Why is the Mental Game Important?
The mental aspect of golf is more important than just about any other game. No other game forces long periods between each shot, basically there is to too much time to think poor thoughts or lose concentration.
What is the Awareness Exercise?
This exercise can just take 5 minutes a day and trains your mind to become quieter and more aware whilst you are playing. After a week you should be able to see some progress. In order to do the exercise, you need to sit in a quiet place and follow the instructions. The exercise will help you to quiet your mind and be more aware. As you practice, you will be able to take this quiet and aware state of mind to the golf course.
What is a swing thought?
A swing thought is the final conscious instruction you give to your mind as you start your swing. An example is to have a 'one piece takeaway', i.e to maintain the angle of your arms and wrists for the first foot or so of your back-swing.
What is the Pre-Shot Routine?
A pre-shot routine is a sequence of steps you take before every swing. If you already have a pre-shot routine, then you can use that, although you need to have a swing thought as part of the routine.
How do I track my progress?
Each time you train with the awareness exercise, you earn brain minutes. The more you minutes you earn, the more likely your play can improve. When you play a game, you can record your mental game score as well as your normal golf score. All statistics are displayed, so you can follow your progress. You will also be sent a summary of your progress in your weekly newsletter from the Golf Mentor.
What does cognitive science tell us?
Modern cognitive science tells us that the subconscious mind is far more powerful than the conscious mind, particularly for tasks that require the solving of a complex problem quickly, such as hitting a golf ball or reading a green. In fact, for tasks like this the conscious mind can distract the subconscious. If you think of hitting a golf ball, there are literally hundreds of movements that have to be made in the correct sequence to hit the ball well, and all this happens in a second or so. Conscious thoughts during this time can only subtract not add to the performance. Even in the period immediately before the swing, you want your conscious mind to be quiet and aware, so you notice such things as the lie of the ball, and let your subconscious mind work out how to cope with this. You should think of the role of your conscious mind as being similar to a captain of an aircraft carrier. The captain's job is to give short precise orders, and then let the hundreds of crew members carry out those orders without any further interaction. Similarly, the orders to your subconscious should be short and exact, e.g. land on the green and roll to the hole.
Why is positive thinking important?
Given the conscious mind should be giving precise orders to the subconscious, it is important to make sure those orders are correct. If you give your subconscious negative instructions then the subconscious is likely to follow them... right into the water hazard. Also, you need to understand that the subconscious mind tends not to hear negative qualifiers, so you conscious instructions should always be phrased positively. For instance, if you think to yourself "Do not go in the water" three or four times before you tee off, your subconscious is likely to interpret this as Do go into the water. Given you have repeated this instructions three or four times, it is likely your subconscious will steer the ball into the water. If you have quietened your mind using the Golf Mentor mental game program, you will be aware when you start thinking negative thoughts, and counter them by thinking counterbalancing positive thoughts. So when you think "Do not go into the water" when teeing off from a par three, then very quickly repeat to yourself three times "I am landing next to the hole".
How do Buddhist techniques help?
There are many schools of Buddhism and within each school many strands. However, a common theme is an emphasis on awareness. For thousands of years, Buddhists monks have studied techniques to improve awareness and quieten the conscious mind. Buddhists teach that to lead a skillful life, you need to train your mind to be skillful. Having a skillful mind, one that is alert, sees the world clearly, and lacks fear is important to play golf well. So rather than starting from scratch, it makes sense to transfer some of these teachings to improve golfing performance.
How do I approach meditation?
A meditator remains focused on the body in and of itself — ardent, alert, and mindful — putting aside greed and distress with reference to the world. Each of the terms in this formula is important. "Remaining focused" can also be translated as "keeping track." This refers to the element of concentration in the practice, as you hold to one particular theme or frame of reference amid the conflicting currents of experience. "Ardent" refers to the effort you put into the practice, trying to abandon unskillful states of mind and develop skillful ones in their stead, all the while trying to discern the difference between the two. "Alert" means being clearly aware of what's happening in the present. "Mindful" means being able to remember or recollect. - The Agendas of Mindfulness
Will this all slow down my play?
The short answer is no. You should already have a pre-shot routine and a final swing thought, so the awareness test is just part of the natural flow of your game. If one of your partners interrupts you whilst you are doing your awareness test, then you can miss the test for that stroke and not count it as a mental error, it is not your fault.
I am still hitting bad shots?
The mental game is only one aspect of your golf preparation. If you have a fundamental swing fault, then your mental game will not fix this. However, if you are aware, your setup and swing will be more consistent, so it will be easier to identify your most frequent swing fault. You can then start to fix this fault.
How should I prepare before a match?
Try to find time to do your awareness exercise just prior to playing. You can do this at home just before you leave for golf, or you can do it on your smartphone.
How is the mental game score calculated?
You do not have to worry about calculating your mental game score, you just need to keep track of the number of errors you have in a game (up to a maximum of 9) and then post this into the Golf Mentor when you finish your round. For those interested, here are the details of the calculation. There are five levels. The easiest one has level number 5 and the hardest has level number 1. The mental game score is calculated as 10*(X-1) + Y, where X is the level number and Y is the number of errors. So if you are on the easiest level and have five mental game errors, your score for that round will be 45. If you are on level 1 and have eight mental game errors, your score for that round will be 8. You can see that the mental game score is like a golf score, the lower the better.
What is the awareness test?
The awareness test is both an test of your awareness and a way of quietening your mind prior to taking your stroke. The better you become at your mental game, the harder the awareness test becomes. The different levels are as follows:
Consciously take one breath when starting pre-shot and consciously think final swing thought.
Consciously take a breath, choose target, balanced stance, check club, and final swing thought
With full consciousness, take a long game shot and a short game shot per hole
With full consciousness take two long game shots and two short game shots per hole
Take every shot with full awareness.
How does my Mental Game Level change?
If during any game, you have 2 or less errors, then your level with go down by one (unless you are on the lowest level). If on any game, you have 9 errors then your level will go up (unless you are already on the highest level).
How many chances do I have with each test?
That is up to you. However, unless you want to be very unpopular with your playing partners, should should only restart your pre-shot sequence a few times a round.
What is a brain-snap error?
A brain-snap error is when you make a mistake that is due to inattention. Examples are hitting with the wrong alignment, losing track of your score, starting your swing on the wrong path, swaying as you take back your club, looking up too early in your swing, having the wrong posture when you setup to swing, gripping the club too tight, walking on your partner's putting line, choosing one club but taking another from the bag, teeing up in the wrong place, forgetting to write down your score, hitting or nearly hitting the wrong ball, and the very many other errors like this you can make on the golf course. Each brain-snap is due to you being unaware. As you become more adept with your mental game, you will become more aware of brain-snaps and they will happen less often.
Is there an Iphone or Android app?

Every time you play, practice or take a lesson, you should be visiting my app to reflect upon your experience and see my advice. To make this easy on Apple IOS devices, click on the share icon (little square box with upward arrow) and choose 'Add to Home Screen'. On Android devices using Chrome, tap the menu icon (three dots in the upper right corner), and choose 'Add to Home screen'. On Apple Macs, open the Golf Mentor in Safari, click on File menu, and select 'Add to Doc'.

"Why is awareness important in everyday life?"
Being more aware can many benefits, both physical and pyschological. Indeed the Harvard Medical School's Heathbeat newsletter says "Learning to focus the mind can be a powerful antidote to the stresses and strains of our on-the-go lives" and offers a special report entitled Positive Psychology: Harnessing the power of happiness, mindfulness, and inner strength. However, it is important to remember the more you practice mindfulness, the more benefit you get from it, or in the words of the Healthbeat newsletter "The effects of mindfulness meditation tend to be dose-related — the more you practice it, the more benefits you usually experience".