Golf Psychology


Here are some of the opening paragraphs in an interesting article by Grant Dodd that appears on

John Crampton must have felt like Osama bin Laden in front of the United States congress. Addressing a group of reluctant, somewhat hostile, NSW State Amateur squad members on the semi-mystical, unexplored subject of sports psychology (a notion still in its infancy in 1987) probably didn’t amount to his idea of a great day.

A good proportion of those that weren’t hostile were disinterested. Others just sat there a bit confused by the whole deal, contemplating the curve ball that had been thrown out of left field by the NSW State team manager. Psychologists dealt with nutters, and either the NSW Golf Association knew something that we didn’t or this guy was in the wrong room.

Crampton introduced ideas during his presentation like effective practice and seeing yourself hitting the ball through imaginary windows in the sky, in the process honing one’s mental skills. Words like “visualization” were used…..

Big words – words that were anathema to the overall simplicity of golfing vocabularies that had previously been content with par, birdie and bogey.

Of course, Crampton, one of Australia’s leading sport psychologists then and now, made the point a number of times that most of us were already incorporating such techniques in our game. We just didn’t view it in such an analytical way. Understanding your mental tendencies and harnessing the power of the mind would enable you to become a better, and more efficient player, he said, and that was where a sport psychologist could help to enhance your performance.

In the end, there were a few converted souls in the room, myself included. Others were more dubious – “Let me see him hit a 2-iron over a long water carry and then I’ll start listening”, was one response. Nonetheless, there was little doubt that some of his thought processes rang a bell. In particular, techniques used for dealing with distractions and goal setting have stayed with me ever since. The day also inspired me to seek out others on the matter in future years.

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