The Inner Game of Golf


Most 12 year old girls want to spend their pocket money on things like make up. I did too, except for that one week when I had a burning desire to get something else. So I handed over my spends to my Dad and asked him to bring me back the newly published Inner Game of Golf. I had heard grown ups talking about it and it sounded the coolest thing ever. I still think it is and in many book shops it will be one of the measly three books they have in the golf section of “Sports”.

This book was so groundbreaking that it, and its tennis counter part, spawned the whole industry of sports psychology. I’ve read books which followed subsequently.  They all – including the top selling sports psychology book of all time Dr Bob Rotella’s Golf Is Not A Game Of Perfect – say the same thing.  To play your highest standard of golf you must quieten the conscious mind so the subconscious mind can hit the shots. But Tim Gallwey’s Inner Game books were the first and the best, because he actually thought up techniques to help you achieve this.

Fast forward 10 years and my reading and implementing the Inner Game of Golf transferred itself to everyday life. As a new graduate my first boss was a formidable woman. She suffered a lot from fluctuating hormones and some days she became really  bad tempered and ungrammatical with it.

At these times her war cry was

“Don’t bovver me now.  I just aint got the patience”.

But to me, her favourite admonition was

“You – you just don’t fink”.

Not “finking” was actually high praise, because it meant just like when I was playing golf for fun I trusted and let go and let my subconscious mind do what was needed. The training I gave myself with to keep Self 1 quiet over the years before had taught me to block self doubt, not worry and stay focussed in the present. As Gallwey says ” the greatest performances happen when the mind is quiet”. Throw the law of attraction into the mix and we now know  that negative thoughts draw negative results. If you see a hazard on the golf course in the way to your target, that is where you will hit it.

He also talks about self limiting beliefs – if you identify with a certain level of performance it’s harder to change and will drag the performance down to that level even if the performance itself can be changed”. The genius of Gallwey’s books, the first of their genre, were that they explained to sports people how to distract their minds from the judgemental voice that inhibits performance and increase feedback from reality. This was long before the current “mindfulness” craze.

Reading this book and applying it at a young age, without telling anyone, helped develop skills for life, not just golf. I saw my irritable boss as Self 1 in human form, nagging and impatient and so I didn’t take on board the negativity. As for ” you – you just don’t fink”. I had the perfect answer to that in black and white in my favourite sports book

Tim Gallwey said “thinking fails”.

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