Mind Game: The Secrets of Golf's Winners Book Review

By: | Mon 09 Sep 2019 | Comments


Review by Golfshake Ambassador Andrew Picken


This is a simply stunning book that is both enjoyable, gripping, and eye-opening.

I purchased a copy and found that I could not put it down. It is absorbing, fascinating and scary in equal measure.

Michael Calvin is a highly respected and multiple award winning sports reporter and his books on football have been very popular.

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This collaboration with Thomas Bjorn offers a unique insight into the minds of elite golfers operating at the very peak of the sport. It deals honestly and openly with mental health issues that are prevalent when operating in the uniquely pressured environment of elite golf.

It discussed the inner demons that affect performance but more importantly the health and well-being of the golfers themselves.

This is such an important work that Keith Pelley, the Chief Executive of the European Tour gave the following assessment.

"I have heard it said that there has never been a book written which gets to the heart of golf and to the golfers themselves. I can tell you, there is now and that book is `Mind Game'. I have made it a must-read for all our staff to help them better understand the complexities of our players and just what it takes to succeed in our sport"

He is such an advocate that he arranged for 250 copies to be allocated personally to current and future members of the Tour.

How can people be stressed playing the game we all love?

Very easily, given the intensity of the game at the highest level and the tiny margins that separate success from failure.

The book cover is illustrated with a great aerial picture of the opening tee shot on the first hole at Le Golf National in Paris. I recently played the same course with a gallery of 30 watching and was sufficiently terrified to my raise blood pressure and heart rate to an audible pounding in my chest.

Imagine performing the same intricate mechanical motions with the eyes and expectations of the world upon your shoulders. Thousands in the gallery, millions watching on TV. Now imagine the feeling of drowning your second shot by hitting it short of the green into the welcoming arms of the lake. I don’t need to imagine as that what I did. I was annoyed at letting the team down. Amplify that feeling to the elite level and it is no surprise that issues occur.

Bjorn is open about his own issues with the Prologue and Epilogue providing a riveting insight into the personal psyche of the successful Ryder Cup Captain in 2018. Sandwiched throughout the book are well researched insights onto the mindset of the majority of the characters involved in the Ryder Cup success.

A host of difficult and complex questions are posed and answered:

What’s the difference between the great and the good?

What are the rituals of preparation and execution?

How do you develop a cohesive team of elite individuals, given that most are internally focussed to achieve individual success?

The honesty and openness with which the stars of the game interact with the authors is laudable and will help others that follow them.

Mental Health is an issue that deserves to be openly discussed as it is only in the honesty can people be supported and helped should they require it. If a golfer suffered a broken wrist there would be no issue in seeking support from the medical experts. Feeling depressed, alone and lost are equally debilitating but not so easily treated without an ability to recognise the problem and then take action to resolve it.

This book is a very important piece of work and I cannot recommend it highly enough.

If you like golf or elite sport in general this book is for you. The index is a who’s who of global golf at the elite level.

Mind Game offers a unique insight into the process and thinking behind a successful bid to win the Ryder Cup with unique glimpses into the minds of those involved.

Dear Santa. This book goes to the top of my recommendations for the 2019 Christmas list.

For more, visit Waterstones or Amazon.


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