Can you hypnotize yourself into playing better golf? Expert explains

hypnosis swirl with golfer celebrating

Self-hypnosis can be a great method for playing better golf.

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Welcome to Play Smart, a regular game-improvement column that will help you play smarter, better golf.

When you hear about hypnosis, you probably have some pre-conceived notions about what it entails. You’re likely imagining someone standing in front of you swinging a pocket watch inches from your eyes. The hypnotist is probably giving you some instructions as you drift into a trance. Then you’re under their full control.

This is the way I imagine it when the topic comes up, anyway. And I’d wager that I’m not alone. Anytime the subject comes up in popular culture, this is generally the way it is shown.

However, as I recently learned, hypnosis entails much more than putting someone in a trance to perform your bidding. In fact, the act of self-hypnosis can be used to help yourself perform at a high level athletically, too.

Last month, spoke with Dr. David Spiegel, a Stanford psychiatrist and one of the most published and respected experts in the field of hypnosis, and he gave us insight into how hypnosis can be used to play better golf.

How to use hypnosis for better golf

Playing solid golf at the highest level requires as much physical talent as it does mental. There are tons of golfers who have all the physical tools to be one of the best, but only a select few pair that with the proper mental acumen.

“For athletic performance, mental rehearsal is every bit as important as physical rehearsal,” Dr. Spiegel says. “I think we tend to underestimate the mental preparation for the game.”

This is one of the ways that Tiger Woods separated himself among his peers. Sure, he is one of the most physically gifted golfers of all time. But he paired that with an equally incredible mental game. One of the ways he achieved that high-level of mental performance was through self-hypnosis.

“Every shot Tiger takes, he does a mental rehearsal of the swing first,” Dr. Spiegel says. “Because the brain is the control system, and that’s how you make it all happen.”

Woods is able to avoid all distractions surrounding him in the heat of competition through this method. Before each shot, he enters a sort of trance that allows him to focus solely on the task at hand — hitting a solid golf shot. No, he’s not having someone dangle a pocket watch in front of him and give him instructions, but he is entering into a self-induced trance that helps elevate his performance.

“Self-hypnosis disconnects you from all those usual expectations and worries,” Dr. Spiegel says. “And it lets you focus on being present and performing as best as you can.”

This is something that all golfers can strive for in their own games. All it takes is the proper training to teach your mind how to enter this state of self-hypnosis.

Dr. Spiegel has even developed an app called Reveri to help in this endeavor. The app helps teach users how to learn to use self-hypnosis, and it’s even got a program specifically tailored for golfers.

“All hypnosis is self-hypnosis,” Dr. Spiegel says. “It’s not something that someone does to you. It’s something you help your brain do to yourself.”

If you can teach yourself the art of self-hypnosis, it’s a great method for mastering the mental game and shooting lower scores.

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Zephyr Melton Editor

Zephyr Melton is an assistant editor for where he spends his days blogging, producing and editing. Prior to joining the team at GOLF, he attended the University of Texas followed by stops with the Texas Golf Association, Team USA, the Green Bay Packers and the PGA Tour. He assists on all things instruction and covers amateur and women’s golf. He can be reached at