Dr Joseph Parent: 6 mental game tips from our 'Drive-Time' Chat

November 18, 2022
4 mins
James S

Recently we welcomed the legendary Dr Joseph Parent onto Drive Time in the Golf Guru app.

Doc's career has been extraordinary, coaching numerous golfers to world number 1 including Cristie Kerr and Vijay Singh.

You can check out the full interview in the app by clicking here, or have a quick read of the key takeaways below.

1 If you enjoy it more, you’ll play better – not the other way around.

People think that if they play better, they’ll enjoy their golf more. But for Doc the sustainable way to play great golf is the other way around. Playing consistently great golf starts with bringing a positive mindset and attitude to the golf course.

This closely aligns with our ‘McIlroy’s Mantra’ session in the Golf Guru app, where we share one of Rory McIlroy's favourite quotes – “don’t let your golf influence your attitude, let your attitude influence your golf.”

2 Pre-Acceptance is a secret weapon

Doc knows that all golfers, whatever their ability, play better when they get out of their own way.

One way to do that is to accept the outcome of a shot before it's hit. But how?

According to Doc, you have to be ok with all the possible results, because if you can’t accept the worst possible outcome then you’re picking the wrong shot.  

With a feeling of total acceptance of the outcome before you attempt a shot, you are more likely to swing freely, and that will create far better results.  

3 Don’t try to 'help or prevent'

Doc likes golfers to aim to a spot, but play to an area.

What he means by this is that you have to be really specific with your choice of target, but also strategic in the area that target is based on your dispersion pattern.

If you pick your targets well, you should feel more positive and more confident stepping into the ball. That will result in making the best swing you can, as Doc says ‘based on your experience and abilities at that moment”. Nothing more, nothing less.

The opposite of this is steering your shots. Either you try to avoid trouble, preventing a bad outcome. Or you try to guarantee your shot goes where you want it to by helping it there.

Avoiding these 'helping' or 'preventing' swings is key to playing great golf.

4 Avoid the ‘anyways’

Indecision is a surefire way to sabotage any round of golf you play.

Experiencing doubts as we approach the ball, stand over it, even during our swing - you'll know that this usually does not lead to a good result!

Doc calls these shots ‘anyways’, because even when you’re feeling uncertain, you go ahead and hit the ball anyway.

But he's also aware that moments of doubt and indecision are common in golf. What Doc wants is for you to minimise the amount of times these 'anyways' happen during a round.

Only hit shots when you’re truly ready and fully committed. This will minimise the mistakes and lead to far less disaster shots.

5 Slow…everything…down….

Under pressure we tend to walk, think, talk, and swing faster. Everything speeds up.

Slowing things down is the easiest way to manage pressure situations. You won’t actually be going slower than normal, because with everything sped up what will feel slower to you is actually going to be your normal pace.

Going slowly lowers your heart rate, helps you make clearer decisions and allows you to make more composed and controlled swings.

Pressure will affect you less and you'll play better.


6 Always see the positives

Even great players struggle to stay positive.

Back in 2004 Doc was approached by Vijay Singh, who was struggling with what he described as ‘seeing the negatives’. Having spent 15 years on tour at that point, Vijay knew all the courses back to front and was well aware of all the ‘bad places’ he didn’t want his ball to go.

Vijay was making ‘preventing’ swings - trying to avoid his ball heading to these bad spots. Because he was such a quality player, a lot of times his ball ended up ok. But a few times a round it didn’t; either he hit the ball to the bad spot he was thinking about, or so far away from that point that it ended up in just as much trouble.

On top of this when Vijay hit a bad shot, he would always pick out what went wrong with it and comment on it out loud. He’d then carry that negative energy and take it into subsequent shots.

Doc noticed this and quickly suggested to Vijay that he stop and, instead, make a positive comment about every single shot he hit, even if the result wasn’t perfect.  

Simply by picking out what he liked about his shots, Vijay became more positive, upbeat, and confident.

According to Doc, this transformed his game. 4 months later Vijay ascended to the top of the world rankings.  

You can listen to the full episode of Drive Time in the Golf Guru app by clicking here.

Our interview with Dr Joe is split into two. The first half is designed for you to listen to on the way to the golf course, to get you inspired and motivated for your next round of golf.The second half you listen to on the way home, after the round, to help you unwind and learn from how you played so you can play better next time.

To find out more about working 1:1 with Doc head to drjoeparent.com. You can also find information on all his bestselling golf books 'Zen Golf' and 'Zen Putting' and grab yourself a copy!