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Key to success in golf lies in the mind, not on the range
October 20, 2011

Research published by Genworth reveals that professional golfers on The European Tour place a higher emphasis on self belief and mental frame of mind than they do upon spending hours on the driving range to further their success.

The study into the psychological side of professional golf created by Genworth Financial, Official Statistics Partner of The European Tour, also revealed that golfers who feel their performance is falling short are more likely to practice for longer, with over 20% practicing in excess of 5 hours per day. By contrast those golfers who feel that they are ahead of plan tend to practice less intensively with a third practicing for only 1-2 hours per day.

The findings also showed that golfers performing on par with their aims, or just above, identify approach play as their top area for improvement alongside mental preparation. Surprisingly, those performing below par primarily focus upon improving their technique around high pressure moments, such as tee shots and putting, rather than the mental side of the game.

Karl Morris, Mind Coach to recent major winners Darren Clarke, Graeme McDowell, Louis Oosthuizen and Charl Schwartzel, said of the findings; "It would appear golfers performing below par are focusing on technique rather than on what they should be focusing on: their mental game. The futility of focusing heavily on golf technique is borne out by this research. It is interesting to see within the research that players who are 'on track' are actually practicing less!"

"Golf is a random game played in an ever changing and flexible environment, yet most players spend hours on the range hitting ball after ball in a fixed and closed environment. The most effective practice time is when you can simulate the real game."

On the use of statistics: while 91% of caddies on tour consider statistics to be a vital part of preparation, only half (55%) of European Tour golfers consider the same statistics to be helpful. Significantly every golfer who believed he was performing above his expected level considered the use of statistics to be an important aspect of his preparation. 

Bob Brannock, CEO and President, Genworth Lifestyle Protection, commented; "As the sponsor of The European Tour's Statistics since 2007, we have not only been able to support the Players in their quest for improvement but we also gain an insight into the performance habits of these elite sportsmen, and we can use these insights to drive our own performance."

Ross Fisher, Genworth ambassador and Ryder Cup star, supported the findings, saying, "When you are playing poorly, it is always tempting to spend more hours on the range and blame your performance on bad technique. However, it is clear that taking a step back to work on your state of mind and look at your statistics is just as productive as concentrating all your energy on improving technique.  Statistics allow me to assess my game and understand what I need to improve. The facts often speak for themselves."

Other insights into tournament preparation revealed:

- Golfers who were performing well tend to put the weather and ground conditions at the top of the list of factors that influence their mental state (67%)

- Those performing poorly put the strength of their most recent performance and struggling to put the disappointment of their previous tournament results behind them (42%) as their top issue.

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