Sports psychologist, Dr. Bhrett McCabe’s great new book, The Mindside Manifesto, is a fantastic resource for you if you want to, as I like to say, “get your mind in position to score.” I have used some of his info here in creating the 5 Layers of the Golfer’s Mental Game and combined it with my own coaching twist.

At the core of this ball is your Self-Image – your view of YOU. Be honest and realistic. Who are you as a golfer, and better yet, who do you want to be? I want you to KNOW in your heart, “I GOT THIS!”

The first layer is your Self Talk – the “mind chatter” you have going on that either builds or tears down your self-image. “What’s your story?” What kinds of things do you tell yourself about your golf game? Are they true? Do you really miss ALL your putts from ten feet, or do you just tell yourself that? Do the breaks always go against you on the course? Really??? Be careful what you tell yourself, because you will start believing it. Of course, if you really do suck at driving, no amount of telling yourself that you’re a great driver will give you the skills you lack, but you could say to yourself something along this line, “I know exactly what to work on, and when I get the hang of this new move I’m going to be a MUCH better driver of the ball.”

The second layer is your Mindset. Mindset is a fantastic book by Dr. Carol Dweck, in which she discusses her research findings related to students having a “fixed mindset,” think talent, or a “growth mindset,” think, “i can do it if I work smart enough, hard enough, for a long enough time.” “I just can’t do math” is my personal example of a fixed mindset that I had about math that led me to become a poor math student. It didn’t come easy to me, so I just assumed I didn’t have a math brain. That is until I tried to graduate college and needed calculus in my senior year. It’s a study in mindset. I barely got through math in high school except for geometry, which for some strange reason came easy to me. I graduated early from HS and played mini tour tennis for awhile, then entered college a couple of years later.

In college, I struggled with accounting, economics, and statistics, and then hadn’t had algebra for many years before learning that I couldn’t graduate without passing calculus. I added the class a week late. After I earned a 44 on the first test, which was a review and assessment, the teacher told me I would have to drop the class – I wasn’t ready for it. I explained that there’s no way I was dropping, and set about a course (Layer 3) of working hard enough to pass the class (my Vision – Layer 2). I went to two class meetings three times a week. I woke up at 5am on those days to go to the school’s learning center and get help. To make a long story short, I got a 100, yes 100, on the final exam and passed with a B. Believe it or not, I actually enjoyed the class. Go figure.

My experience showed me that I CAN do it –  and that goes back to the very core of me! Have a vision of where you want to go and keep that vision right in front of you. Write it down and keep it by your bed so that you look at it every night. Put another sign on the fridge. Then get after it every day!

The third layer is your process and plan for how you will get where you want to go. In golf, we often throw out our training plan in order to put out yesterday’s fire: So you putted poorly in yesterday’s event. Today you spend all your time on your putting (probably on the putting stroke, rather than the putting skills, which is a mistake). You ignore the rest of your game for the day or several days. Big mistake. If you practice this way over time, look at how inconsistent and fragmented your practice will be. Instead, I want you to continue to do your due diligence on your whole game, faithfully knowing that if you keep working, you can’t help but improve over time. Everybody wants to improve overnight…Well, the overnight sensation who just won a Tour event has been working faithfully for MANY years to become an “overnight success!” Plan your work and work your plan. Practice a lot, and practice smart!

We are going to take the core and the three layers and wrap in them in a core of resilience and grit, because those are going to be the two characteristics that get you through the ups and downs in golf, and life! “Everyone gets bloodied in battle” is one of my favorite sayings to use in this context. “Adversity is coming” is another. Let’s not be so surprised by errors. Let’s just learn and move on. Stop expecting perfection, because I promise you, it’s not coming! Get knocked down and get back up. Think Arnold Palmer. Grit is related to resilience, but I do think the missing element in understanding grit is the time element. Gritty people keep at it – they chase their vision – longer than everyone else. Many of us want to learn guitar for example. We are all gung-ho in the beginning, but then give up after only a few months. Grit is not something you only display right now, it’s over a long time. You have to be in for the long haul if you are going to succeed. You can do it. You got this! Go get after it!

So there you go, that’s the 5 Layer Golfballer. Let me know what you think.

Hit ’em great!