“…worrying about golf and caring about golf are not the same.”
- Golf Beneath the Surface: The New Science of Golf Psychology (Pre-Release Draft for Reviewers) by Raymond Prior, PhD (1)
After our conversation on The Mental Golf Show way back in February 2022, Dr. Prior shared a pre-release draft of his forthcoming book with me. This book has changed so much of the way I think about the game, both in playing and coaching players. I used to just think that what I’ve experienced and the experiences of others holds the most value, but there is a “vast ocean of research” in psychology out there, as Dr. Prior puts it.
I know ‘science is important’ is not revelatory, but it kinda was for me. So ever since then I’ve been spending a lot of time reading scientific journal articles on psychology to better understand what’s actually going on in our heads, not just what feels like what’s going. I can’t wait until this book comes out. I very well might give a copy to every one of my coaching clients. You can pre-order the book on Amazon here.
This is in the context of golfers feeling like worrying is a sign that they actually care about how they do. “If I’m not scared of how it’ll go then do I really even care?” You can care without being worried or anxious. As I’ve come to understand them, nervousness is a sense of readiness for something important (which is great!), worry and anxiety are a sense of fear and dread about how an impending event might go (not so great).
Everything in the future has some amount of uncertainty attached to it, especially golf where there are an innumerable amount of variables that affect your score on any given day.
Here’s what I’ve learned to be helpful:
Gather the info you can about the future, interpret that uncomfortable nervous feeling as readiness (because you ARE ready—you prepared!) then accept the round’s events as they unfold with zero self-judgement. That’s caring without worrying.
(1) Prior, R. (2023) Golf Beneath the Surface: The New Science of Golf Psychology. BenBella Books.