Mind Guru – Gail Smirthwaite

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Hi. In this issue I want to share with you some thoughts from a talk I gave last week at Coventry Golf Club.

Although the format is fairly set in terms of content the Q & A session at the end can, and often does, go off in all sorts of directions. One of the questions that seemed to have all the ladies interested was how to cope with 'slow play'. The main issue was that many of the ladies cared more about what the players behind thought of them than their own game of golf. As a result the ladies tended to rush their shots allowing this stressful situation to impact on how they played.

The interesting dynamic here was that out of the 44 attendees at this talk 8 were men. When I asked the men attending if they suffered the same problem there was a unanimous 'NO!' If play was slow then they were still focussed on their own game. They were not concerned what people playing behind them thought of them as they valued their performance more than what others may or may not be thinking of them.

Of course we cannot control slow play and yes it is important to keep the pace up unless you are stuck waiting. This does not mean that you have to rush your shots. You have the choice to concentrate on yourself and your own game.

This issue certainly did seem on the face of it to worry the women more than the men in the audience. It is also impossible to know what other people are thinking so you are basing your thought process on conjecture. Either way the problem with worrying about what others maybe doing or thinking, is that whilst you are over there in someone else's business is it is almost impossible to play the shot you have in front of you. Golf is task-focussed and because of this, you need to be in the present moment in order to execute a shot well. It is so easy to become distracted, especially if play is slow. Slow play is frustrating and something that is not within your control. It seems that ladies struggle with this more than men.

Although this was a small sample there maybe some male readers out there who also empathise with this situation.

It may help you with dealing with such situations to understand how your attitude plays such an important role when it comes to playing well. In this issue's Featured Article 'X is for X-cellence' then the awareness and tip will help anyone who feels they need more help to deal with this issue of slow play.

X is for 'X-cellence'

'Excellence is not a skill it is an attitude'. Peter Jacobsen

It's funny that we are now nearing the end of this A to Z journey and it is almost as though we have come full circle by looking at attitude once more. I began the series with 'A' for 'Attitude' and discussed being in the right state of mind and how to get into the 'flow'.

So does golfing excellence depend upon our attitude?

Noun 1.   excellence – the quality of excelling; possessing good qualities in high degree

Definition courtesy of:

  Noun 1.  attitude – a complex mental state involving beliefs and feelings and values and dispositions to act in certain ways; "he had the attitude that (golf) was fun"

Definition courtesy of:


Of course a positive mental attitude is absolutely necessary if you are going to succeed. In order for you to achieve the level of excellence you seek in your game of golf, then the real importance lies with how you react when things are going wrong. This will determine your success.

You need a positive mental attitude in order to get through any adversity or difficulty; especially when it comes to a poor golf shot. If you want to know what sort of attitude you have then wait until something goes wrong; the ball in the water hazard, out of bounds or stuck in a bunker, and see how you react.

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If you manage to leave the poor shot behind you and to move on with a positive attitude then you are on the right track.

Success can be helped along though by expecting things to go well. If you believe that your ball is going where you want it to, then you are more likely to achieve the successful shot you seek. You often hear me mention that 'you create your own reality' and this is a direct result of your attitude.


Your attitude is directly dependent on your belief system and the quality of your self-talk. One of the most important differences between success and failure is the way a person thinks. Successful golfers, and indeed people, are those that focus towards their goals and what they truly want.


If you are stood on the tee and your focus is to not send your golf ball into the water, your mind will only acknowledge that which is visual. In this particular case it is the 'water'. Your sub-conscious does not differentiate what is right or wrong, it is merely there to support you in what it believes you are attempting to achieve. If your focus is the water, then it will help you send the ball there!

You have often heard about people whose glasses are half empty or half full. This is an example of a 'glass half empty' way of thinking. There are those of you who will play your golf hitting away from the hazards, such as the water or bunker, rather than TOWARDS your goals; visualizing landing that ball on the middle of the fairway.

If you are going to create a positive attitude and a level of excellence you can only dream about in your game of golf, then it's time to keep a check on your self-talk and what you are telling your subconscious.

So if excellence is not a skill but an attitude as the quote at the start of this article suggests, it is a positive mental attitude that matters. So let's take a look at the process that will help get you the right 'attitude'.

Creating a positive mental attitude requires some effort on your part. We now understand that the way you look at a challenge will determine your attitude.

Another of my favourite sayings is 'there are no mistakes only lessons'. It is all about how you choose to react to any given situation. New beliefs are created all the time; you hit a golf ball into the water hazard on the 14th hole three times in a row you now believe that every time you tee off from the 14th the ball is going in the water.

The great fact is that you can also create new positive beliefs as easily as negative beliefs. If you believe that the biggest challenges that present themselves to you on the golf course have been sent to you to teach you a valuable lesson then you will have the sort of attitude that will support you in becoming a winner.

If you see every challenge as an opportunity to learn, then by looking for the positive in every situation it will stop your subconscious and self-talk being inclined to journey down the 'half-empty' route.

If you are always looking for the good and the lessons in each challenge rather than concentrating on the 'mistakes', your mind is filled with all the possibilities of creating a solution.

If you allow your mind to seek a negative solution, then physically you will start to feel anxious and fear will drive your decisions and your behaviour. It is almost impossible to think positively if your mind is full of what could go wrong.

Your attitude is a reflection of who you are and you shape your game of golf depending on the attitude you take onto the golf course with you. If you want to bring about change to your game of golf then develop a positive mental attitude as your attitude will directly affect how you play.

TIP: The next time you play golf EXPECT only good things to happen. Look at each golf challenge as a lesson and choose to learn from it and move on.

REMEMBER: You cannot change what has passed. Your last shot is not a reflection on how you are going to play your next shot unless you choose to create the negative belief that will support that outcome. You can CHOOSE to have a positive attitude and to support yourself in creating the excellence and success you seek.

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Till next time …

Don't forget – keep practicing!Gail SmirthwaiteGail SmirthwaiteGOLF CONFIDENCE COACHhttp://www.golfmindguru.com© www.golfmindguru.com
For more information Gail can be contacted at: gail@

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