I having been giving a lot of thought and putting into practice Dr. Joseph Parent’s concept of “Big Mind” in relation to my mental golf game and it seems to be really paying off.
Dr. Joe Parent is one of the top golf psychologists in the game today as has worked with top PGA pros like Vijay Singh, David Toms and LPGA superstar Christy Kerr. You may want to read the interview GolfDash did with Dr. Joe called, Quick Nine with Zen Master Dr. Joe Parent.
The concept I want to discuss today relates to the problem of being “ball-bound.” What this means is that the golf ball, being a static object, can really inadvertently direct your focus to the ball. And that’s not always good.
It’s not good because it can shift your natural athleticism to hitting at the ball. As we all know, to maximize our swing we need to have a free-flowing, looseness to our swing. We need to swing THROUGH the ball NOT at it. By being “ball bound” we can really halt this process without really knowing it.
Since re-reading, Zen Golf, this concept really jumped out at me. I must of not have paid much attention to it on the 1st reading.
Anyway, Dr. Joe shares the concept like this (from the book Zen Golf: Mastering the Mental Game
How big is your mind? Is it the same size as your brain? Does it have a shape? Is it located in a particular spot?
If we notice a sensation in our foot, it is actually experienced in our mind. So perhaps our mind is the size of our body. But we also experience what we see, so perhaps our mind is as big as our field of vision. What id I asked you to imagine the farthest star in the farthest galaxy? Now how big is your mind?
Ultimately, our mind has the potential to be as big as the universe. The more open our mind, the bigger it is. The more consumed by worry and petty concerns, the smaller it is.
Worrying about missing a four-foot putt makes your mind feel about as tiny as a thimble. Playing your best golf comes from having the biggest mind. Whatever you encounter, connect with the space around it, see it as big a context as you can. Look at the lay of the land and start reading your putt when you’re fifty yards from the green. See the big view.
If we get “ball-bound” before we swing, we lose track of the space we’re sending the ball into. A small mind interferes with making a free swing that follows through toward the target.
After a good drive or iron shot, watch it fly, without a lot of comment, just appreciating the whole picture. Notice how open and expansive, how big, your mind feels.
Connect with the experience and call it up before your next shot. You’ll be surprised how much more you see and feel.
I have been experimenting with this, now that our season (up North here) is coming to a close. I try to stand on the tee and really “dimensionalize” the space I am hitting into. Sort of like a large fluorescent green box with the opacity turned down to 20% (so you can see through it)
It really is a subtle shift in some ways but it really does free you up from being “ball-bound” and for me it has allowed me to “own” more of the space – not just swing and let the ball fly where it may. So, in a strange way, it focuses you, yet gives you freedom, too.
One other way it has helped me is that you can use your imagination to extend your space. What if you see “your space” as expanding? What if you see your space as 30 yards longer? Interesting, huh?! Play around with this concept in a light hearted way – just see what happens for you.
Some amazing things can happen when you expand your golf mind. They are already happening for me. I bet they will for you too.