Think Box: Play Box


This is the fifth and final week in a mini-series on the ‘inner game’ of golf. Only through a ‘holistic’ approach to your golf game, including working on the ‘inner game’, will you start to realise you potential and enjoy your golf more.


To consistently play your best golf you must step up to every golf shot without fear and doubt. The method I use to help achieve this is called
‘THINK BOX – PLAY BOX’ and was developed by Pia Nilsson and Lynn Marriott whilst they were working with Annika Sorenstam.

It is very easy to practice – all you need is an alignment stick or a piece of string that you lay down on the floor as pictured here.

The THINK BOX is the area in which you analyse the lie of the ball, the club you will use, wind direction, the type of shot you want to play etc. It is in here you decide on your swing thought and take your practice swing.

You should verbalise to yourself your intentions for the shot, “I intend to send the ball towards the left greenside bunker and let the wind move it towards the flag in the middle of the green. It is a good, firm 5 iron for me.”

Imagine the shot you are going to hit. Take a step across the DECISION LINE and in to the PLAY BOX -when you cross this line you should quit thinking and just play! The only time there is any indecision should be when you are in

When you cross the DECISION LINE to hit the shot, there MUST be total commitment to the shot. If you get over the ball and you are not comfortable with the decision you have made, back off, retreat to the THINK BOX and come up with a plan in which you have trust.

In the PLAY BOX you need to be efficient and not waste time; simply aim the club face, take your hold, align the body, connect to the target, and hit your shot. The longer you wait the more opportunity there is for doubt and tension to build in your mind and body. I have talked in the past about how tension is
the biggest wrecker of a golf swing!

Decide – Commit – Swing. It’s as simple as that!

Think of it as skydiving. In the THINK BOX you pack the parachute, pick the jump site and do all the other preparations. In the PLAY BOX you just jump. I recently received a telephone message from one of my pupils that simply said. “Please tell Peter – the parachute opened!”

Suggested reading…
Here are just a few of my favourite books on the mental side of the game…

Inner Game of Golf
W. Timothy Gallwey
This is my all time favourite book on the mental game and one that I would highly recommend for all my clients to read.

Golf Is Not A Game of Perfect
Dr Bob Rotella
To be honest I own all of Dr Bob’s books and I recommend every
one of them! It was difficult to choose just one but I would say this
one just edged it for me.

Every Shot Must Have A Purpose
Pia Nilsson and Lynn Marriott
This is where the Think Box – Play Box routine comes from. Lots of other really insightful information in this book as well as some great ways to make your practise time more effective.

Zen Golf
Joseph Parent
A really easy book to read. It is a collection of brief chapters offering the wisdom of traditional Zen stories and teachings distilled from a lifetime of
actual lessons with golfers, many of whom are PGA professionals.

Book a lesson with a PGA Golf Coach at Dunes…
If you want to unlock your potential simply book your initial 60 minute session for just £30.00 at Dunes Golf Centre. We now have 3 PGA Professionals providing lessons at Dunes so availability for lessons is 7 days a week.
Call 01346 510693 or go to




Playing DO golf

Unlock your golfing potential
This is the fourth post in a mini-series on the ‘inner game’ of golf. Only through a ‘holistic’ approach to your golf game, including working on the ‘inner game’, will you start to realise you potential and enjoy your golf more.

Playing Do Golf…

A couple of weeks ago I talked about how most golfers play ‘Don’t Golf’ in that they make a statement before each shot about what they don’t want to do. Eg. “Don’t go in the water,” right before doing just that!

Get your game on TRAC

This is a routine you should apply to every shot you play…

Target – pick a shot to play, every shot must have a purpose!

Routine – practice swing rehearsal, implement/feel the key swing ingredients

Acceptance – You can deal with good/bad shots and outcomes – go on a mission! (see below)

Commitment – Play the shot you have chosen

After the shot, when the club goes back in the bag, that is closure on the shot.


After each shot start the TRAC process again when you get within a set distance of the ball (say 20 yards)

Did you know?

You will only play golf for about 30 minutes in a 4 hour round including all your routines. The rest of the time is simply walking, during which you should be enjoying the company, the views, the fresh air and exercise.

Interesting fact:

Your club is in contact with the ball for 0.0004 seconds per shot. So, in a round of 80 shots you have influenced the ball for a total of only 0.03 seconds!

On a Mission

Let’s break down the word mission…

Ions are atoms or molecules that are either positively or negatively charged.

To go on a mission you MISS the IONS by being neither positive nor negative and instead to get yourself in to a NEUTRAL mindset.

POSITIVE THOUGHT                                  Vs                                NEGATIVE THOUGHT

I will hit the green with this shot           Vs        I am going to put this in the pond

NEUTRAL THOUGHT – Is it possible to hit the green?

By asking if it is possible you are not saying you will, which is nearly always a lie! And you are not thinking negatively by stating what you don’t want to do.

If the answer to the “Is it possible?” questions is Yes but not likely, then you should reselect your choice of shot.

You are faced with a shot between the branches of a tree that is only 3” wide, it would be possible to send the ball through but with a very low success rate. An ‘off the wall’ positive person would still take the shot on so this is where some negativity needs to be added to create a neutral, balanced mindset.

Approaching most activities in life with a neutral mindset pays dividends. In many instances creating some negativity creates balance that allows for good decision making. An example is when my son was very young, he once ran straight across the road without looking. I had to explain to him some negative reasons as to why we need to stop, look and listen!

If you want to unlock your potential simply book your initial 60 minute session from just £20.00 at Dunes Golf Centre. We now have 3 PGA Professionals providing lessons at Dunes so availability for lessons is 7 days a week.

Call 01346 510693 or go to


Improve your game without changing your swing

Unlock your golfing potential
This is the third week in a mini-series on the ‘inner game’ of golf. Only through a ‘holistic’ approach to your golf game, including working on the ‘inner game’, will you start to realise you potential and enjoy your golf more.

The Performance Triangle
Have you ever noticed how your performance dips when you least want it to? For most golfers the most obvious case is when we get a ‘Medal’ card in our hands.

Is it playing from a slightly longer course that makes the difference?

Have you often played well leading up to the medal only to find that your game deserts you on the day?

We have already discussed the fact that tension is the biggest wrecker of a golf swing and come medal day I have no doubt this plays a part. However, I also believe there is another force at work and it is to do with your focus of attention.

The Performance Triangle (below left) shows Performance (Score or shot outcome), Learning and Enjoyment. You will play your best golf when you have equal amounts of focus on each of the three parts. In other words, when you reside dead centre of the triangle where the green dot is.

Come medal day we naturally focus more on our score and very often golfers lose sight, albeit temporarily, of the enjoyment factor. A good score becomes the sole focus and the perception is that “if I score well, I will enjoy it”.

Golf by its very nature is a game focused on score – after all, the objective of the game is to play the course in as few shots as possible.

Further focus on score is created by the golfers themselves – after nearly every competitive round the first question I hear golfers ask each other is, “What have you shot today?”

My advice is to focus on what you can enjoy today. Stay present by playing one shot at a time and after the round reflect upon what you have learned.

Johnny Miller, who won The Open in 1976 once said, “I would have been a fool not to have been a good golfer. After every game of golf my father asked me only two questions – what have your learned today son? And, what have you enjoyed?”

Here are a couple of practical exercises you can do…

1.Three Shot Diary
After every round of golf write up, in detail, the three best shots you have played that day. Make each description as vivid as you can including details such as weather, the distance, club used, your thoughts, how it felt etc.

It should be written in such a way that the reader can experience the shot too.

There are numerous benefits to this exercise;

  1. You finish the round reflecting on the positives – certainly more enjoyable than talking about all the negatives!
  2. During a round, no matter what your score or shot you have just played – the next shot becomes an opportunity to be one for your diary.
  3. If your game ever enters a slump or before a particularly important game of golf simply reading back through all your successes will set you in a better frame of mind.

The final point helps to create a positive affirmation. An affirmation is a declaration that something is true. Many golfers create negative affirmations such as, “I’m a bad driver of the golf ball.”

The three shot diary will help you to create an affirmation but one that is positive and therefore much more beneficial to your golf game.

2.Good Shot Tally
Simply write down on a piece of paper or the side of a scorecard a tally mark for every good shot you hit. Just count how many there were each game. Don’t worry too much about the number of good shots, just aim to get a tally mark for every shot you hit, including putts!

If you want to unlock your potential simply book your initial 60 minute session from just £20.00 at Dunes Golf Centre.



Unlock your golfing potential

Unlock your golfing potential
I have had a fantastic response from the e-newsletter last week that talked about performance versus potential. It seems many of you are aware of how your thinking affects your performance.

Here is the second part in a mini-series on the ‘inner game’ of golf.

Only through a ‘holistic’ approach to your golf game, including working on the ‘inner game’, will you start to realise your potential and enjoy your golf more.

The ‘Self Fulfilling’ Prophecy
Psychologically, fear produces the reaction of trying too hard to maintain control. If you are afraid of missing the fairway you can be overly cautious – you try to steer the shot and make an awkward swing. When we do this the ball inevitably heads for the rough – it is a self fulfilling prophecy!

Physically, fear produces bodily reactions where blood flows to our bigger muscles so we have less feel in our hands and we tend to make poor decisions with our brains. Adrenaline flows freely and we get speedy and jumpy.

The fear of a bad result causes the muscles to tighten up during the swing. This can lead to sudden jerky movements – exactly what a good swing is not.

Curing the problem:
Choose the shot you feel the most confident about playing. You have to accept the range of outcomes of the shot – good and bad. Commit fully to the process without letting anxiousness over the outcome inhibit your abilities.

Don’t think of a pink elephant!
Having read the above statement I am pretty sure that a pink elephant just popped into your mind, right?

This is because the mind does not have a specific image or understanding of the word “DON’T”.

This is why often the thought “Don’t duff it in the water,” is followed by just that result.

Sometimes the mind takes the word “Don’t” to be a call to action against a negative outcome and it will produce the complete opposite result.

An example of this would be “Don’t hit it out of bounds left,” your mind may direct your body to send the ball as far from the left side as you can. That’s why you may find yourself in the trees on the right – you did a good job of not hitting it left but not such a good job of getting it on the fairway.

Overcome this by stating a positive intention before you play every shot. In the examples above “Do” make your target the green and “Do” intend to hit the right hand side of the fairway.

Imagine driving your car home thinking of everything you “Don’t” want to hit. It would be a very torrid and nerve racking drive home and I would imagine far more likely to end in disaster.

Enjoy your golf more this year
If you want to unlock your potential simply book an initial lesson with me at Dunes Golf Centre for just £30.00. Call 01346 510693 or go to


Do you find that you never perform as well in a competition?

Do tension and nerves wreck your game?
Do you fail to realise your potential?

With the golf season now in full swing, I am seeing an increasing number of new clients who feel they are failing to realise their potential. The first few medals have been played and the handicap has gone up point one each time, despite preparing for the season better than ever before.

Golfers have a potential level of performance primarily governed by their technical ability to perform a good, repeatable, swing action.

If the technique is improved there is a higher ‘potential’ level of performance. Notice how I state a ‘potential’ level and not a definite improvement in performance.

This is because of a simple equation:

Performance = Potential – Interference

Interference can take on different forms but the most consistent and destructive to performance is that which comes from within – the self-talk.

This includes what you say whilst you are playing the game and also beliefs that you forge about your golf. Often our beliefs are very limiting.

A quick example of the power of belief is back when the ‘4 minute mile’ used to be considered completely impossible – even doctors had written articles saying this time was not humanly possible. Therefore, when Roger Bannister finally broke the record in 1954, it was considered that this record would never be achieved again – yet in the following 12 months, 32 other runners broke his record.

Legendary golfer and my childhood hero – Nick Faldo said, “The most important space on the golf course is the 5” between your ears.”

The chart here demonstrates the Performance Equation:

In other words; no matter how much practice time you put in, working on your swing in lessons or on the range – it won’t make a jot of difference if there is a stack of interference going on in your mind.


Here is my number one, proven to work, tip to help you shift your current mindset:

The 15 shots worse game
This is quite radical but is a necessary step for you to change the record that has been playing for all those years in your mind.

The game goes like this: Work out what your average score has been for the past few months. You now have to go out score at least 15 shots WORSE than that score!

So, if your average is 85, for you to win at this game you have to score at least 100 the next time you play.

However, you lose the game if any of your playing partners ask if you are playing badly on purpose!

Think about how you would feel.

Suddenly the fear of bad shots is removed as this is actually winning at the ‘new’ game.

The self-imposed shackles of PERFORMANCE are also removed. If you commit to this process you will find it extremely liberating.

I have had some amazing feedback like this from a client:

“I was scoring around 23 Stableford points every time I played and was getting really frustrated, especially as I hit the ball pretty good at the range and in lessons.

“So, Pete asked me to go out and score no more than just 8 points! It felt weird to go out and play bad on purpose but we had a £20 bet on it so I thought – what the hell let’s give it a go!

“I felt so free on the golf course especially as it completely removed the stresses I was placing upon myself about my score. The truly incredible thing was; I get through nine holes and I find out I am on 24 points already (that was the £20 gone!)

“Interestingly, I came back in only 10 points for a 34 point total but when Pete asked me what happened on the back nine I had to tell the truth – I felt on the 10th tee that, as I was on for my best ever score, I had better start trying! Turns out I went back to the old habit of focusing on score and trying so hard that it gave me the old result. Silly when I look back on it as I should have just carried on doing what I was doing.”
Lee Morris

If you want to unlock your potential simply book your initial 60 minute session for just £30 at Dunes Golf Centre.

Call 01346 510693 or go to