'Zen Golf' cover

About the Book
Title: Zen Golf
Author: Dr. Joseph Parent
Length: 224 pages (hardcover)
Publisher: Doubleday
Copyright Year: 2002

As its name implies, Zen Golf is a mental game book aimed at golfers. Author Dr. Joseph Parent presents an interesting mix of modern sports psychology and old-world philosophy and meditation to form a foundation of mental techniques and improved play. Aside from the typical advice found in most mental game books, a few sections stand out and should be highlighted.

Early on, the author introduces the Zen concept of a big mind. Where we choose to put our focus can affect our actions, which for golfers often means a focus on the water or the sand trap that looms somewhere in front of them. In a putting example, Dr. Parent discusses how choosing a small mind that focuses on the hole tends to cause golfers to leave putts short. When faced with a line that ends in one place (the hole), people will inevitably go the perfect distance or short of it. Expanding the mind beyond the constraints of the hole, seeing past it and being aware of the entire green, frees up the putting stroke. After all, being two feet short of the hole is no different than being two feet past it, except if you are short there is a zero percent chance of the ball going in.

The author also introduces three different kinds of confidence: false confidence, conditional confidence, and unconditional confidence. False confidence is bravado and risk-taking that often leads to disastrous results. It comes from trying to impress rather than trying to perform. Conditional confidence rises and falls with your results. If things are going well, the confidence is high, but any kind of mistake will lead to a drop. Unconditional confidence is connected to our basic goodness. It comes from an understanding that our skills in an activity are not dependent on or a reflection of who we are as a person.

In another section, the author introduces the concept of “avoiding the anyways.” In golf, this happens when a golfer is unsure of which club to use, but then addresses the ball ...

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