The Ceremony of Golf
If you want another insight into the mental game, read Eugen Herrigel's classic book "Zen in the Art of Archery". It is his account of the six years he spent as a student of one of Japan's great kyudo (archery) masters. His purpose was to learn or understand what is meant by "detachment" and how to achieve it.
In golf terminology, he wanted to learn how to be the ball. His training focused primarily on practicing technique over and over until he could execute a perfect shot without conscious effort or any concern over the outcome. His master guided his emotions as well as his mechanical technique.
After years of daily practice Herrigel expressed joy when he finally made a perfect shot. His master scolded him for taking personal credit for making the shot because "It" made the shot and not him. The master explained that making the shot or missing the shot was not important. What was important was to create the conditions of non-thought that would allow "It" to make the shot. The master was teaching him to play on instinct and let the shot take care of itself.
To help create the mental atmosphere that would allow "It" to make the shot, great emphasis was placed on the ceremony of the Great Doctrine. The ceremony was done before every shot in practice and competition. It was practiced at home without equipment and thought about on the way to practice. The ritual of the ceremony was aimed at clearing the mind of all thought so one could transcend thinking about technique or the outcome. Just be -- be the arrow and target -- "become one" with the "transcendent Deity".
I'm sure that his master would be pleased to know that golfers have their own ceremony even if they don't give it the same importance. How much importance do you place on the ceremony of golf, also known as your "pre-shot routine"?
Do yourself a favor and read Herrigel's book to get a clearer understanding of the importance of the pre-shot routine. Its purpose is to have a solemn ceremony that will help you create the mental atmosphere that will allow you to get into the zone and play on instinct. Swing thoughts and thoughts of making or missing the shot interfere with your ability to execute the perfect shot.
After all is said and done, when you are in the zone, you have to admit that "It' made the shot for you.
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