Fergus Bisset and Jeremy Ellwood debate which aspect is more important in golf.
Is Sound Technique More Important Than A Strong Mental Game?
Jeremy Ellwood Says No
Having played with hundreds of golfers of all abilities over the years, I now believe that most could achieve progress more quickly by changing the way they think rather than modifying their well-ingrained techniques. Technique is clearly important, but a major shift in outlook is surely within everyone’s grasp?
We all know someone who allows the outcome of one bad shot to adversely affect several more, even if they had been playing well beforehand.
One thing in golf is certain – what’s done cannot be undone. All you can ever do is influence what happens next, and a positive outcome is more likely if your mental state doesn’t lie somewhere on a scale from the morose “why does this always happen to me?” to out-and-out rage.
For those who think psychology is mumbo-jumbo for the emotionally weak, let’s call it something else.
Common sense perhaps. How many shots do you sacrifice every round when you simply stop thinking straight?
We’ve all bypassed rational thought at some point and attempted shots we have never practised and have no idea how to play in some vain, but invariably futile, bid to salvage bad situations.
If you remain unconvinced about the mental game, consider this – many who dismiss its importance will quite happily talk about pressure and confidence.
Your muscles and body feel neither – they originate in your mind, which then processes things and sends out the messages that dictate physical performance.
If your mind can filter out the worst negative vibes before they reach your muscles, you’ll have a far better chance of playing well.
Fergus Bisset Says Yes
The fundamental starting process for any golfing beginner is to learn how to make good contact with the ball, whether on a full shot, a pitch or a putt. To eventually do this effectively and consistently, a sound technique must be developed.
The strongest mind on earth can’t will the body to make a good swing. A solid technique can only be developed through observation, practice and application.
Yes, some natural physical ability helps, but golf involves some fairly unnatural actions so, essentially, good technique must be ingrained.
And ingrained it will be. As an old athletics coach of mine used to say, “Practice makes permanent. Only perfect practice makes perfect.”
Golfers who develop a good technique will possess it throughout their golfing career and will, as such, have the potential to play properly good golf. Golfers who develop a poor technique will never be able to progress beyond a certain level.
Good technique helps you repeat and find consistency. This allows you to play with less anxiety, placing less strain on the mental side.
I agree the mental game is hugely important and someone with zero mental game wouldn’t get far. But nobody has zero mental game.
Yes, some are calmer than others, but even the most irate golfer has some level of control over their emotions and decision making. And the mental game can be improved reasonably easily – in fact, with increased maturity and experience on the course, it will generally improve organically.
Golfers with sound technique who need to think more clearly have potential. Golfers with a strong mental game but poor technique are pretty much stuck where they are.
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A golfer for most of his life, Sam is a Senior Staff Writer for Golf Monthly.
Working with golf gear and equipment over the last five years, Sam has quickly built outstanding knowledge and expertise on golf products ranging from drivers, to balls, to shoes.
He also loves to test golf apparel especially if it a piece that can be used just about anywhere!
As a result he has always been the one family and friends come to for buying advice and tips.
He is a graduate of Swansea University where he studied History and American Studies, and he has been a part of the Golf Monthly team since December 2017. He also previously worked for World Soccer and Rugby World magazines.
Sam now spends most of his time testing and looking after golf gear content for the website. He also oversees all Tour player content as well.
Unfortunately, Sam is not a member of any club at the moment but regularly gets out on the golf course to keep up the facade of having a handicap of five.