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Dr. Richard Goldberg is a Professor of Psychiatry at Brown University and the author of Better Golf Better Life, a book he self-published in January of 2023. Dr. Rich has been an avid golfer his whole life and he saw that every time he teed it up in a tournament or outing the faults of his playing partners would become most evident in their mental game. As many fitness professionals have stated in this publication before, the mental definitely affects the physical.

Seeing that these golfers were very open with him about what they were feeling on the course, Dr. Rich transformed his traditional practice and started focusing his attention on golfers to help them understand how to change their approach to a single shot and their round of golf as a whole.

“I started coaching people on the mental aspect of the game and their behavior on the course,” Dr. Rich explains. “I felt my skills in psychiatry and my background as a golfer could help these individuals lower their scores and have more fun by altering their mindset during play. In fact, I became focused on performance psychology because I trained for and completed an Ironman triathlon and learned a lot about the importance of mental goal-setting and positive visualization.”

As Dr. Rich started working with golfers, the typical problems came up. As he started noting these different scenarios, his book took shape from his life’s work to help people better their lives and his ability to truly help people develop a better outlook on the golf course today. He says that as golfers understand themselves better and become more aware of what’s going on inside themselves, their golf game will improve.

“When you listen to PGA Tour winners after a victory, they don’t say ‘I won this tournament because I finally figured out where my right elbow should be at impact,’” Goldberg explains. “They usually say things like ‘I won because I’ve finally found some peace on the golf course or I was comfortable with myself.’”

Dr. Rich says Nick Dunlap referenced his sports psychology coach in his post-win interview after his victory at The American Express a few weeks ago. Similarly, Phil Mickelson talks about being present and more focused in his interview after winning the 2021 PGA Championship at 50 years old.

With all that we have going on in our heads, Dr. Rich lauds the impact that meditation has on the athlete. Goldberg has been meditating for years and emphasizes the importance and benefits of taking some quiet time every day. He says Rory McElroy meditates for 20 minutes before every competitive round.

Dr. Rich told me two stories that more than sum up the importance of having control of the mental side of your game.

One story involved Dr. Fred Shoemaker, who founded Extraordinary Golf in 1990 and has been changing the way the game is not only played but how it’s taught for more than three decades. Shoemaker has authored several books on developing students’ skills and has spoken on the topic all over the globe.

Goldberg says Shoemaker was presenting in front of 35 PGA of America Golf Professionals at a Section event and asked them what the most important thing they could help their players with would be – they agreed on ‘focus and concentration.’

He then asked them to raise their hand if they’d ever taken a course on focus and concentration, and no hands went up. He asked them to raise their hand if they were doing anything in their own game or their own lives to improve their focus and concentration. No hands went up. Shoemaker may have been ahead of his time back in 1990, but there’s no denying the importance of the work being done by him and Dr. Rich in 2024 to improve golfers’ focus and concentration.

To leave you with one more story from Dr. Rich, he cites a time when 1992 U.S. Open Champion Tom Kite returned to his alma mater at the University of Texas. He spent a day playing four holes with one group of players from the team and four holes playing with another group. He made his rounds and played with everyone on the team. At the dinner that evening, he gave a nice speech and asked if there were any questions.

One of the players sheepishly stood up and thanked Kite for spending time with them. “What an honor!” He goes on to cite the fact that he drove the ball farther than Kite and struck the ball as well as the major champion did. The young man even felt he putted better than Kite. “But you’re a great champion and I’m struggling to make the University of Texas golf team – what’s the difference between us?”

Kite agreed with the Longhorn player and acknowledged that the young man had many great attributes on the golf course.

“Here’s the difference,” Kite said. “Every round, you lose your focus and concentration four or five times more than I do. Over four rounds of golf in tournament play, that would amount to 20 strokes just due to your mental game.”

Goldberg cites many times when the students he takes on the course lose focus for three or four holes at a time. He would be doing them a disservice if he didn’t introduce the skills needed for effective mindfulness and meditation. He teaches them how to do it and it’s up to them to implement that into their day, similar to a chipping lesson that results in the student not practicing afterward. The effects can’t take place if the student isn’t all in.

To purchase Dr. Rich’s book on Amazon, click here and take the first step to better focus and mindfulness on the golf course. For more information or to contact Dr. Rich, log on to his website today.