How Mindfulness Could Help Your Golf Game with Dr Joseph Parent

We’re looking at mindfulness, awareness, and changing habits with Dr Joseph Parent who combines eastern wisdom and western psychology in a unique and effective style.


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Instead, we need to do less and remove the interference, remove the complications, get out of our own way, and produce the best swing that we can possibly make.

There was a young man who had a statue that he believed was clay, and his grandfather pointed out to him that he doesn’t need to gold plate the statue for it to be a gold statue.

He just has to gently remove the clay and reveal the solid gold statue that is underneath it. Often we think that there’s something wrong with us and we need to add things on.

I call that “more on golf”.

We add “more on golf”, and we just get more and more turned into a pretzel and confused.

Instead, we need to do less and remove the interference, remove the complications, get out of our own way, and produce the best swing that we can possibly make. And that is the attitude that I think is more helpful for golfers.

Mindfulness is a state of active, open attention on the present. When you’re mindful, you observe your thoughts and feelings from a distance, without judging them good or bad. Instead of letting your life pass you by, mindfulness means living in the moment and awakening to experience.

Mindfulness is being completely awake to the present moment of what you are experiencing, while you are experiencing it and being aware of what you are doing while you are doing it; being mindful of that or paying attention.

Awareness is a bigger sense or panoramic view of your place in the environment, what all the relationships that you have are, (mentally, emotionally, physically and communication) and also an internal awareness of ‘Am I present or is my mind someplace else?’.

The practice of mindfulness, is using your breathing and your posture as an anchor in the present moment, so that when your mind wanders to the past or the future or elsewhere in the present, you can say, ‘Oh, I was someplace else, now I am back to here and now.’

And there’s only one time you can play a golf shot, and that is now, and there is only one place you can play, it’s not in the next hole, and it’s not on the last hole. It’s where you are right now; here and now.

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My system for instruction and for helping people play golf, I call it the PAR system or par approach. PAR = Preparation, Action, Response to Results.

If our intention is to avoid something, we’ll either go towards it or very far away from it. Your intention needs to be is to take the hazards into account and then have a clear picture of where we do want to go.

The ‘Preparation’ consists of the three Cs: Clarity, Commitment and Composure. Clarity is a clear picture of where you do want to go. The clearer image you have of the shot that you want to hit, the better your body will produce it.

If you have an image in your mind of something you are trying to avoid, let’s say you are thinking about a lake on the left side of the fairway, your brain may get a mixed-up message and send word to the muscles saying, ‘Well, I see a picture of a lake, I think that’s where we want to go.’

Or, the opposite, ‘Whatever you do, don’t go in the lake’ and you’ll end up hitting it miles to the right. I was working with David Thomas at Riviera at the LA Open, and there’s one hole with a huge grove of Eucalyptus trees on the left.

David hit it down the fairway and we watched his amateur playing partner hit next, just keep aiming further and further away from the trees, but he still looked over his shoulder at the trees and then he hit it across the next fairway and into the tenth fairway.

David shook his head and said, ‘Terrible shot’ and I said, ‘No, it was a good shot.’ He said, ‘What do you mean?’ I said, ‘Well, his goal was to avoid those trees and he missed them by about 200 yards, so it wasn’t just a good shot, it was an especially good shot.’

If our intention is to avoid something, we’ll either go towards it or very far away from it. Your intention needs to be is to take the hazards into account and then have a clear picture of where we do want to go.

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Dr Joseph Parent

dr joe parent

Dr. Joe Parent has coached the mental game in business, life and golf for over 30 years. A distinguished PGA TOUR Instructor, he has attracted such clients as major champions Vijay Singh, David Toms, Juli Inkster and Cristie Kerr.

He also coaches many top level amateurs and juniors, and is the mental game coach for the men’s and women’s golf teams at Pepperdine University. About his first book, the bestselling ZEN GOLF: Mastering the Mental Game, Golf Digest reviewers say, “Here is a book that is highly original and exciting, destined to become a classic. Dr. Parent is a groundbreaking writer.”

Now in its seventeenth printing, there are over a quarter-million copies in print world-wide, including foreign editions in seven languages.

GOLF: The Art of the Mental Game pairs Zen Golf lessons with the timeless drawings of Anthony Ravielli, illustrator of Ben Hogan’s Five Lessons: The Modern Fundamentals of Golf. and is published by the incomparable Rizzoli.

As a result of his writing and his instruction of PGA TOUR players, Golf Digest named Dr. Joe to each of their lists of “Top Ten Mental Game Experts” in the world, and made him a featured instructor in their popular instructional section: “Breaking 100-90-80 and 70.” His work was also highlighted in GOLF Magazine, in an eight page spread entitled “Come On, Get Happy,” where Dr. Joe helped two editors at the magazine shoot their best rounds ever!
In the early 1970’s, Dr. Joe encountered the mindful awareness practices of Buddhism that explained self-defeating patterns of behavior and provided profound methods to transform them. After completing his Ph.D. in psychology, he began bringing his insights to golf and business. Since then he has become a renowned and sought-after instructor of the mental game in all aspects of life; teaching the path to success to hundreds of professionals and amateurs in golf and other sports, as well as to top executives seeking cutting-edge business insights.

He is a highly regarded keynote speaker at corporate, celebrity and charity events hosted by companies such as Bank of America, Morgan Stanley, Pimco, Merrill Lynch, UBS, Dreyfus, Pratt & Whitney Rocketdyne, Salomon Brothers, Transamerica, Fidelity, AIG, CBRE, the World Presidents Organization, PGA of America, the Tiger Woods Foundation, the First Tee Foundation and many others.

Dr. Joe has been featured on CNN, NBC’s Today in New York, HBO Sports, ESPN, and many appearances on The Golf Channel. The ZEN GOLF book is featured in a widely circulated MasterCard “Priceless” ad, and had its own cameo appearance being read by Ray Romano on “Everybody Loves Raymond,” and HOW TO MAKE EVERY PUTT was read by Malcolm McDowell on “Franklin & Bash.” Dr. Joe has coached Ray, Malcolm, Michael Bolton, Kevin James, Anthony Anderson, George Lopez, Bernie Mac, Michael O’Keefe (Danny Noonan in Caddyshack), Richard Schiff, Robby Krieger (The Doors), Hall of Fame running back Marcus Allen, world champion boxer Oscar de la Hoya, and many other elite athletes and celebrity golfers.

Dr. Joe Parent teaches at the Los Angeles Country Club and at the Ojai Valley Inn and Spa Resort, Ojai, California.

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