Cruise Control: The Subconscious Mind and Golf

Subconscious Mind and Golf

What if there were a free tool to instantly lower your scores? Without changing your swing? 

If you’re like most golfers, you’re probably thinking, sign me up!

Since we’re not afraid to spend $500 on a driver or $1,000+ on a new set of irons to try and improve, a free tool sounds a lot better.

This tool is accessible to everyone, so it’s easy to use.

What is it?

Your subconscious mind.

It’s something we all have access to, yet most of us aren’t aware or know how to use access it on the golf course. Your golf game can be transformed if you can tap into your subconscious mind.

It can help you have more fun, hit better shots, and drain more putts. Continue reading to find out how to maximize your mind to lower your scores. 

Create a Subconscious Golf Swing

Before diving into how this part of your mind can help your golf game, it’s important to understand what it is and how it works. Otherwise, you might click away and think it’s not that useful.

But I promise, when you learn how the subconscious mind works, you’ll see how it can almost instantly improve your golf game. 

Subconscious vs. Conscious Mind 

First, the mind is made of two parts. The subconscious mind, and the conscious mind

As Dr. Bruce Lipton said, “The conscious mind is called creative and can learn by reading a self-help book or going to a lecture, watching a video, or reading an article. It is creative, it goes, ‘Ah, I have an idea, now I change my mind.’

The subconscious mind is a set of habits. And the most important thing about a habit mind is that you don’t want it to change very quickly, because otherwise habits fall apart. So it is resistant to change.”

As you’re reading this article, it’s your conscious mind that is saying, “Okay, this kind of makes sense, tell me more.”

It is amazing to realize that 95% your daily activities are controlled by your subconscious. 

It’s basically on autopilot and is running in the background 24/7/365. It’s ensuring that your heart is beating properly right now and that your eyes blink enough to make it through this article.

Furthermore, it’s all doing this Without you consciously doing anything. Your subconscious controls nearly 100% of your day. This is where the problem lies. 

How to Change Your Subconscious Mind

Dr. Lipton says there are two options. “Number one: The first seven years the mind is operating in a low vibrational frequency like hypnosis. This is one way to change the program. 

Number two: Once you’re seven years old, you start to form habits by repeating a certain thing over and again. Practicing, repeating, practicing.”

Hypnosis and repetition can effectively retrain the subconscious mind.

While we’ve talked about golf hypnosis in depth, we’ll focus on repetition in this article instead. This article will focus on repetition and how it can be used to improve your routine and get off your own path on the golf course.

Going Unconscious on the Course

According to Golf.comA team from the Max Planck Institute conducted studies on the brain’s activity before and after exercise. Here’s what they found:

“​​The research team proved that many actions—sweeping the floor, perhaps, or swinging a club— happen automatically as a result of subconscious brain activity. The conscious mind does not participate or need to be involved in these actions. What’s more, according to research-team leader John-Dylan Thomas, Ph.D., the mind subconsciously commits to a plan of action as early as seven seconds before executing it.”

You basically swing the golf club on autopilot. The conscious part of your mind does not swing, instead, it’s your subconscious that takes over. 

But that’s the problem, the conscious mind is very analytical. It’s job is to think critically about things which can ruin your swing with any golf club.

It’s a terrible thing to do when you have a golf swing thought right in the middle of your swing. It’s almost a surefire way for disaster. 

As Ben Hogan said, “The downswing is no place to give yourself a lesson.” 

Chances are, you know exactly what I’m talking about.

There’s nothing worse than getting a swing thought like “Don’t pull it” or “Water is short of the green” in the middle of your downswing. It usually leads to a timid swing where your conscious mind attempts to guide the golf club, instead of swinging freely.

Another example is when you played golf and didn’t try very hard but scored well. A lot of times you play your best and do everything because your conscious mind is in the backseat. 

Instead, your subconscious (the much more powerful part of the mind), is in control. When this happens, that’s when you tap into nearly infinite potential and can get the most out of your game.  

Here is a real world example of how this concept dramatically impacted my own game. 

Going Unconscious on the Greens

Heading into 2021, I was committed to playing in more tournaments than ever.

I bought a new putter in late 2020 and loved it. The rest of my game felt great, I was ready to take on the new season and advance in my amateur career. I was working on my putting endlessly, with drills, training aids, and more. 

In one of my first tournaments of the year, I had four three putts in the first 12 holes. Frustrating on any day for a scratch player but to make matters worse, the greens were very flat and not PGA Tour fast so no excuses. 

To add insult to injury, it was a one-day qualifier, meaning you have to have your best stuff and get lucky just to advance. After that fourth three putt, I was so mad I not so lightly tossed my putter back to my bag, missing it, and landing on the cart path. Somehow the golf Gods felt bad for my dismal putter throw and it only left a minimal scratch on my $500 PXG putter.

I ended up shooting 78 with 37 putts! Clearly, I knew something had to change. I knew that doing more of what I was doing wasn’t the answer. 

Learning to Play Automatic Golf

The Universe and golf Gods must have talked because a week later they offered a solution.

A Facebook ad basically spoke to me, asking, “Do you want to make more putts without more practice?” And a ton of other questions that basically felt like they were speaking directly to me.

My putting was desperate so I clicked over to learn more about the Look and Shoot Putting System. The sales page was essentially written for me, so I bought the digital product and instantly dove in. 

The premise was about making your conscious mind go to sleep while your subconscious takes over. He said if you can throw and catch a ball, you have all the talent to become a good putter. 

He wasn’t wrong either. In 2020, I averaged 33.5 putts per round using my old system. In 2021, after learning his system, I averaged 29 putts per round (and rarely practiced). 

Four shots off my game without any training aids, extra practice,Or a new putter. 

Why?

I learned how to get into the zone. My physical movements didn’t change but my critical self talk and routine did a lot.

I’ve found it’s when you care too much and try to control everything that your swing and game fall apart. That’s why you need to learn to use your subconscious more often during the round, Not your conscious mind. 

When you do, it’s how you get in the zone… which is where greatness happens. 

How to get in the zone in golf

I wanted to paint a clear picture of the mind’s work and a personal example so you can see how to imagine the potential. Now that you do, let’s talk about how you can get in the zone too. 

The zone.

You’ve probably been in the zone at one point or another. It seems that everything is working. You’re hitting drives with ease, hitting amazing iron shots, and have incredible feel near/on the greens.

Everything feels effortless.

Here’s how three top athletes describe the zone: 

“You get in the zone and just try to stay here. You don’t think about your surroundings, or what’s going on with the crowd or the team. You’re kind of locked in.” – Kobe Bryant 

“I didn’t hear anything today. I didn’t hear anyone. The only people I could hear was maybe in my box, but other than that most of the time I don’t hear anything. I am in the zone.” – Venus Williams

“I tend to have these blackout moments where I don’t remember. I know I was there but I don’t actually remember performing the golf shot.” – Tiger Woods 

Tiger also said: “I just get so entrenched in the moment, I guess my subconscious just takes over. There are many shots and putts I don’t remember hitting.” 

It’s when you’re able to tune out all the noise and just focus on each golf shot. 

Tiger Woods – Performance Golf Psychology 101

If there is any golfer who knows how to get in the zone, it’s Tiger Woods.

I would argue that he is the greatest mental player of all time, despite his long career. He was unbeatable for so long, thanks to his incredible physical ability, talent, as well as an insane work ethic. 

This YouTube video might be one of the best clips ever because Tiger and his mental coach, open up and share some of his secrets. This quote from Tiger’s coach is a great example of what it takes to reach peak performance. 

“The athlete in the peak performance zone is really in a heightened state of awareness, absorbed focus. There is a certain amount of relaxation and response. They are present in the moment, with a clear and uncluttered mind. They just let the performance happen rather than thinking or helping the performance happen.”

This is what I want to see for you and your game of golf. It should feel slow-motion. You don’t have to be as talented or skilled as Tiger to improve your game. However, you can learn to think like Tiger which can lead you to incredible results. 

How to Get in the Zone – 6 Mental Game Strategies

Your true potential is found in the zone. But so many of us try to “think” our way to the zone, when in reality, it’s not overthinking where greatness comes from.

You don’t need a conscious golf swing to score well – you need your subconscious. These are some of the best ways for your subconscious mind to get in the zone and play well on the golf course.

Be a Pre-Shot Routine. This is the best mental game tip.

The biggest benefit to a pre-shot ritual is that you use the conscious and subconscious at the correct times. In golf terms, it will help you eliminate swing thoughts and play your best golf… period!

When you’re standing behind the ball, calculating your distance, picturing the shot, and everything else, this is your conscious mind. To see the shot clearly, you must use the analytical part. This is where the right club is found and you commit to a shot.

Take a few practice swings to help you visualize and feel the shot that you want to hit. You don’t want to waste time thinking about the shot you don’t want to hit. This is because the subconscious doesn’t understand negatives, so when you say “Don’t hit in the bunker”Your mind hears “Hit in the bunker.”

Once you’ve grooved some practice swings, then you want to turn off the conscious mind and so then the subconscious part can take over.

My trigger in my complete shot routine is a short, deep breath as I start walking to the ball. This is a signal that you need to stop talking and just focus on your target.

The ball is the focus of your conscious mind.

Keep your eyes on your target 

You want to have one thought and one thought only before your golf swing – Your target.

Whether you’re a tour player or a bogey golfer, one thought only. As a personal development speaker and author Brian Tracy said, “Your conscious mind is your objective or thinking mind. It has no memory, and it can only hold one thought at a time.”  

This will keep you busy, so your subconscious mind can control (or not control!) your swing. I’m sure you’ve done this tons of times before without intentionally trying to do so. This is when your swing is effortless and you hit it straight on a tee, iron shot or putt.  

Don’t Stand Over the Ball Too Long 

To avoid letting your subconscious mind interfere with your golf swing, you can make your pre-shot routine more efficient. Notice I said efficient, not quick.

A quick routine can lead you to a quick swing that often results in a sub-par result.

After you start walking to the golf ball, don’t waste a ton of time either. Especially when you’re standing over the golf ball – this is where I find the mind gets extra chatty.

Instead, take a closer look at the target and then trigger your golf swing. 

If you’re standing over the ball and your mind is racing, step off and restart your routine. Take a deep breath and start over so you’re 100% committed to the shot at hand. 

Stay Present 

The conscious mind loves to dwell and worry.

It’s why you’ve been on the eighth hole but still think about that short 3-putt on the fifth hole. Or, after a good front nine, you start to let your mind wander and think about a good back nine for a career low round… only to lose it on the back nine.

To let your subconscious take control, it is important to remain present. 

As Tiger discussed in the video above, it’s all about staying present in that one shot. Don’t think about the past or the future as you can’t change the past and thinking too much about the future only leads to overthinking.

Be present and give 100% commitment to each shot. After each round, leave feedback and evaluation.  

Playing Unconscious Golf

Trust Your Gut about the Greens

Don’t make putting more difficult by letting your conscious mind interfere. Here’s how to let your unconscious mind take over, according to sports psychologist Dr. Bob Rotella (from The Unstoppable Golfer): 

“When a golfer is playing unconsciously, he looks at the ball, he looks at the green, and he looks at the hole. He visualizes the putt that he wants. His brain recognizes the direction of the putt, uphill or downward.

The distance is accurately measured by the brain. The player doesn’t have to tell himself to hit it easy or hit it hard. He doesn’t have to worry about leaving it short or running it by. He just has to let the brain work unconsciously and let the putt happen.” 

Sure, you should go through a green reading routine but don’t overthink it. 90% of the time your gut reaction (which is your subconscious) is correct. 

Don’t let the conscious interfere and overthink it! 

Count while you put 

As I said, I lost more than four strokes from my average round of putts. I learned to go unconscious. After implementing the strategies from the “Look and Shoot” method, my putting was 10X better.

While I encourage you learn more about this proven system here is one thing that you can do today. If you struggle with too many thoughts on the greens, remember that it’s your conscious mind getting in the way.

Instead of trying to “stop thinking” which pretty much never works, keep your conscious mind busy. Remember that the conscious mind can only hold one thought at a moment. 

It is important to keep your conscious mind busy by having a simple thought. This will allow your subconscious to take the wheel on your putting green. In the Look and Shoot Method, the creator suggests counting down or singing in your head to keep the conscious mind busy. 

It sounds crazy, but it works!

When I’m going through my pre-shot routine, I am counting down from 100. This way my conscious mind isn’t saying “Don’t leave it short” or some other mechanical thought that interferes with my subconscious.

Remember that if you can catch and throw a ball, you can putt it in the hole. The results have been truly incredible and I’m a firm believer in letting go on the greens and recruiting your subconscious instead. 

Click here for more information about Cameron Strachan’s Look and Shoot Putting Method. 

FAQs on Getting in the ZONE (Playing Unconscious Golf).

Are you interested in more information about how to get into the zone and create a subconscious shift? We can answer your questions. 

What triggers your subconscious mind to act?

Your subconscious is basically a huge tape recorder of all the events in your life. Therefore, it gets triggered by certain events and specifically, how you’ve been trained over time.

You can easily reprogram your subconscious with repetition and/or Hypnosis to ensure that your triggers are properly focusing on positive experiences. 

How can my subconscious mind be used to my advantage?

Whether you’re an aspiring club champion or a bogey golfer, use the six strategies listed above.

While most golf schools don’t teach this stuff, I did find one that has some pretty radical stuff from Golf Psych. Weekend retreats are offered where you can learn, practice your skills, and then hit the golf holes.

They offer more than just concepts, and they are not just low handicappers. Click here to learn more.

The subconscious mind is so powerful! 

According to MindValley, it’s incredibly powerful.

As they said, “Most people don’t even acknowledge that their subconscious mind is at play when the fact is that the subconscious mind is a million times more powerful than the conscious mind and that we operate 95 to 99 percent of our lives from subconscious programs.”

What books are good for mental game golf?

Instead of learning more about the golf swing, you can learn about subconscious golf by reading these amazing golf books.

  • Dr. Bob Rotella’s Unstoppable Golfer. He has many great chapters that teach about self talk, muscle memory and other subconscious tips for making amazing progress in your game.
  • Ed Grant: Subconscious Golf Author Ed Grant shares a ton of tips and other cool things to improve any athlete’s performance.  You will learn a ton about the golfing mind and he’s worked with elite instructors to create this book.

Final Thoughts on an Unconscious golf Swing

Hopefully, these subconscious golf concepts will help you whenever you’re playing golf.

When researching this article, a quote was provided by an unknown author. “Your body is ready to do anything, it is your mind that is stopping you.”

Don’t let your mind hold you back from playing the golf of your dreams.

You need to have a calm mind in order to play your best golf or any other sport. Tune out the external noise to find your inner greatness. 

By using the tips outlined above, I’m confident that you’ll play better golf than ever before. Remember, your conscious mind has a role to play but it shouldn’t run your game.

Instead, leave that to your subconscious mind. It’s far more powerful than that and much more effective. Plus, it’ll make playing golf a lot more fun than having all that mental chatter. 

Michael Leonard

Michael Leonard

Michael is a friend and contributor of the Left Rough. He is a full time writer, freelance coach, and the creator of Inspire Your Success. He’s also an aspiring professional golfer who’s been playing for 20+ years and regularly competes on mini-tours & amateur events.

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