Subconscious Golf is one of the best golf books I have read in a very long time. It’s filled with eye-opening insights, instruction and thought patterns that, unequivocally, will make you a better player.
The book, written by Ed Grant in 2013 has a subtitle of “Train and use your mind like the pros.”
I was introduced to it by Grant Brown, (note: no, it also works if your name does not include the name “Grant”) an upcoming pro whom we have written about in our post, Quick 9: Interview with Grant Brown on his Journey to the PGA Tour.
Grant has made some amazing progress using a lot of these principles and when we were speaking about on the phone recently he mentioned this is applicable to ALL players not just low handicappers.
Author Ed Grant started teaching Subconscious Golf concepts at seminars and golf schools around the country way back in the 1970s (so he’s clearly not a fly-by-night operation!)
Grant’s work has helped dozens of top-level PGA Tour players from the 1970s to today, and his mental game intruction, techniques and patterns have been adapted and utilized by some of the game’s most elite instructors, including Jim Flick, Jim McLean, Bob Toski and Dave Stockton.
By combining research from truly diverse fields in performance golf psychology, Mr. Grant has created a system based on the principle that golf is equally as much a mental game as a skills game.
Researching and understanding how the mind/brain works and affects physiology, muscle tension, thought patterns and ultimately performance on the golf course is at the core of Subconscious Golf.
I was really intrigued as I have been having an issue driving the ball the last few years. It’s really nothing physical as I can get myself into those positions but just wasn’t sure why I can’t seem to get to my right side (I’m a lefty) on the tee ball.
When stuff like this happens you can go to the moon and back trying to figure out what’s going on. Is it physical? Am I getting older (and weaker)?, Am I just just not as good as I used to be? Is it that tinge of arthritis I have in my right hip? just keep your left knee a little more sturdy on the backswing, and on and on it goes in your mind.
But reading the book Ed shares this exact dilemma.
To play your best golf, you need to develop a routine that breaks a complete shot into two parts. There is a conscious part, controlled by the conscious mind, which involves observing and evaluating your circumstances, making club and shot decisions and controlling the pre-shot routine and setup; and then the subconscious part, controlled by the subconscious mind, which is the swing itself.
It doesn’t matter if you’re a tour player, an aspiring club champion, a 10 handicap, a bogey golfer or a beginner. If you can learn how to take control of your golfing mind and switch effectively between the conscious and subconscious, you can shoot better scores. A subconscious swing will always give you a better and more consistent results than a conscious golf swing!
There are so many good chapters in this book it hard to single any one out but I’ll just focus on 2 that made a difference for me.
I loved Chapter 2, “How we Learn,” it totally breaks down how we “think” we learn in terms of the golf swing. One of the most difficult things Ed mentions is that:
… the human brain is particularly vulnerable to a condition called “intermittent reinforcement.” In psychological terms this means that the hardest behavior to change is one that has been intermittently reinforced. In golf terms, this means the hardest swing (or habit) to change is the one that produces good results every now and again.
See, every now and again you hit that great drive or that bomb of a put and Wham! you’re right back into that feedback loop. The better way is to create a program that aims to get your mind and body back in sync and focusing properly.
One thing that really struck me is something I have been thinking about for a while. That of being “ball bound versus swing bound” in your learning.
That is another challenge this game presents to us in learning new swing moves; the tendency to be too ball result oriented vs. swing result oriented. Every golfer who has tried to improve knows that it is very possible to fail to execute the new desired move but still hit a good shot.
But if we become too ball result oriented and reinforced, you will give up on making the new swing move an over-learned skill because you will be “intermittently reinforced” by hitting some good shots, then subsequently trying to hit more good shots instead of just focusing on successfully executing the new swing move.
And it’s not just concepts and theories. Ed gives specific learning practices like practicing in slow motion, with eyes closed, exaggerated training and more. The chapter ends with the Habit Formation Calendar that is designed to, once and for all, transform your golf game. I won’t give away more than that. You’ll have to buy the book.
Chapter 4, “Self-Talk and the Trigger Process” was another of my favorites. It’s all about understanding how your performance and your thoughts are directly related. For example, do you know how to use self-talk to control (therefore modify) your performance on the golf course? You’ll find out how.
Other cool things in this chapter include:
- How your thoughts create pictures
- Decoupling your thoughts based on your results
- Learning to release your anger in a positive way
- Re-framing your critical self-talk
- Selectively ignoring “reality”
Also included in the book are many videos of Ed going over the content in his own words. Really nicely done and high quality. You need a reader via your mobile device to scan the QR code. You can then view them on your phone or save them (as I did) and view them later on another device such as iPad or desktop or something else.
Note: in the book it mentions getting the GetScanLife.com app to scan in the QR codes but that didn’t work for me as these are Microsoft based codes (with the little triangles) I downloaded the Microsoft tag reader app on my iPhone and they worked fine.
What I really love about the book is that it is so fresh. It’s goes pretty deep. It get’s under the surface and really exposes some (in my opinion) pretty radical stuff. It never patronizes – like a lot of golf books seem to.
Plus there doesn’t seem to be anything filler here. Just all good content that has the potential to transform your game like maybe anything you have experienced before.
You can get the book below at Amazon. It’s not cheap at just over $40 for a 160 page paperback but think of it as an investment in playing your best golf ever. Not a bad tradeoff, is it?