Dr. Rob Bell’s Mental Toughness Training For Golf is probably the best book I’ve yet read on the mental side of the game. Citing research, offering anecdotes and suggesting drills, Bell offers page after page of clear and useful advice. Indeed, there are so many good thoughts throughout the book that I can’t even begin to summarize. But two bits kept shining through:
The first was to “play golf, not golf swing.” The modern tendency of players to try to perfect the swing instead of perfecting the playing of golf, Bell says, results in a lack of mental toughness. After thinking about this for a while, I’ve come to believe it thoroughly and think it explains the current state of the PGA Tour.
The second that I kept coming back to was Bell’s admonition to concentrate on things you can control, such as attitude, routines, practice habits, course management and the mechanics of stance, setup and alignment. The rest, you have to let go.
A major portion of the book consists of specific practice routines designed to toughen you up. These aren’t swing drills—they’re playing drills. An example: The Point and Shoot, in which you begin every shot by picking a large target, then a subset of that target and then a subset of that, until you have selected the smallest possible. Point and shoot.
I wish I had this book when I was coaching high school golf. My team would have been vastly improved if I simply had followed Bell’s prescriptions.
Perhaps Bell’s introduction summarizes the book best:
“Not long ago, golfers tried to perfect playing the game of golf. Nowadays, golfers try to perfect the golf swing. This shift has resulted in a lack of mental toughness. The content within these pages is designed to introduce mental toughness training concepts and provide specific practices throughout. This book can be summarized in one sentence: Make practice and play more difficult than actual competition. When our practice is difficult, we can then learn our tendencies, our thoughts, our weaknesses and our strengths.”
This is highly recommended—especially for golf coaches.