Psychology can help you on the golf course

Psychology is playing a part in helping an amateur golfer while out on the course. Paul Ferrier, a graduate in psychology, has told the Edinburgh Evening News how his qualifications are proving of great assistance as he looks to improve his game and progress in the sport.

The Barberton player has his eye on places in a number of major tournaments in the next 12 months, including the Masters, the US Open and the Open Championship.

He stated: "I got a degree in psychology and it helps you on the golf course to keep with the visualisation and also treating every shot the same."

The 23-year-old explained he has belief in his abilities and is unsurprised by his achievements in the game thus far.

Mr Ferrier added a greater emphasis on the psychology of the sport and the visualisation element is something that is focussed on by college golf in the US, while competing against skilled players on a regular basis also helps individuals to up their game.

Professor Aidan Moran from University College, Dublin, a Chartered Psychologist, comments:

"I’m delighted to hear about Paul Ferrier’s success in combining his psychology qualification with his expertise in golf. Although golf is played with the body, it is won in the mind. As the great Bobby Jones once remarked, “competitive golf is played mainly on a five-and-a-half inch course – the space between your ears!”

"Golf is mentally demanding for a number of reasons. For example, it is an untimed game so you must be prepared to stay out for as long as it takes to complete the course or match. Also, the slow pace of the game and the 'stop-start' nature of play means that there is a lot of empty time available where you are thinking rather than playing. In fact, researchers have found that in a typical three-and-a-half hour round of golf, only 10-20 minutes is actually spent hitting the ball. In other words, ball contact time occupies less than 10 per cent of the total round time in golf.

"Therefore, at least 90 per cent of the time you spend on the course is devoted to other activities like walking, planning, worrying, regretting, getting distracted, becoming nervous, or even making excuses in advance. Despite its importance, the psychology of golf has been neglected by coaches – mainly because, until recently, they didn't know how to improve mental skills in golfers.

"Fortunately, over the past decade, psychologists have made significant progress in identifying and training the mental skills which separate successful golfers from less successful counterparts."