Welcome to Winning the Battle Within, a book that provides a practical guide to improving your mental approach to sports, having more fun playing golf, and lowering your scores! My partner, scratch handicapper, Michael Bowker, who has written 11 prior books, and I share some psychological and mental golf game tools and inner-game golf concepts that will help you enjoy this game to its fullest.
I’ve been lucky in my career to work on the mental aspects of the golf game with elite athletes in many sports, including more than fifty golfers who make their livings on the various professional tours around the world. But, truthfully, I get as much satisfaction and enjoyment out of helping high handicappers shave strokes off their scores as I do working with the pros. That’s why the inner-golf-game adventure we’re about to take through these pages is designed to help golfers at all levels of ability.
People often ask me what makes Winning the Battle Within so different from traditional approaches to improving a player’s golf game. In answering that question, I share with them the following true story.
Some years ago, a young man came to me and told me he had aspirations of playing on the PGA TOUR. I asked him what he thought he needed to do to improve his game so he could compete at that level.
“I need to find the technically perfect swing,” he explained. “That’s what all the great players have in common.”
“Is that so?” I asked. “Exactly which technically perfect golf swing did you have in mind? The one Ernie Els uses? How about Arnold Palmer’s? What about the ones used by Greg Norman, Jack Nicklaus, or Nick Price? Do those interest you?”
The young man’s eyes narrowed and he looked at me suspiciously. He wasn’t sure where I was going with these questions. I knew, of course, where he was going. He was in a dogged pursuit of the mythical Holy Grail that we, as a modern society of golfers, have created for ourselves. He was on a Great Quest for the perfect technical golf swing.
I could tell my questions weren’t leading him any closer to the truth, so I shared with him the same thing I tell every player I work with, regardless of skill level.
“It’s inside you already,” I said. “The perfect swing is the one you trust.”
The young man looked as though he had just swallowed a bumblebee. I may as well have told him his shoes were on fire. He wanted nothing more than to hot-foot it away from such blasphemy.
The young man was a good player, perhaps even good enough to challenge for a spot on the PGA TOUR. But he would not accept the simple concept that I had just shared with him. He refused to believe that there are many perfect swings. He chose, instead, to hold to what he had been taught to believe by every instructional golf book he had ever read and every video he had ever seen. He insisted that his success depended on finding a teacher who could show him how to make technically perfect moves throughout his swing. His quest ultimately took him elsewhere, and I never again heard of that young man. The rest of Chapter One is devoted to the special players who have committed to Winning the Battle Within and have gone on to spectacular careers on the PGA Tour.