Psyched Online

Interview: Charles Coody

With Paul Schienberg, PhD

The Commerce Bank Championship was played from June 27 – July 2, 2006 on the now prestigious Eisenhower Park. The public facility was the home of the 1926 PGA Championship with legendary Walter Hagan. I was able to engage Charles Coody on the way to the practice range. He proved to be an easy going, veteran who shared his wisdom and experience about the mental side of his golf game. Here is that conversation.

Schienberg: I’d like to ask you a couple of questions about the mental side of your golf game.

Coody: Okay.

Schienberg: How about three or four questions?

Coody: I thought you wanted to ask two questions.

Schienberg: I thought I would push it.

Coody: Now we are up to 4.

Schienberg: If you don’t stop me, I might ask to spend the whole evening talking about golf with you. What do you do to mentally prepare yourself for the game today?

Coody: I always felt that to concentrate the best, your mind needs to be free.

Schienberg: And if you find it clogged with stuff?

Coody: If you’ve got things on your mind, they have a tendency to work their way into way into your round at the wrong time.

Schienberg: Is there a way you get into the present after you’ve hit a bad shot?

Coody: That’s the most difficult part of the game for just about everyone – the acceptance of adversity and being able to overcome it. With every player there’s some days you can do it better than other days. There’s very few people that can have a bad day and be able to recover from that.

Schienberg: Gary Player told me that golf was 90% mental.

Coody: Chi Chi says the other 10% is in you head.

Schienberg: But, most of the focus is on the technical part of the game.

Coody: I think golfers get too technical. The main thing is to have a creative imagination and a positive sense on a golf shot. If you can’t create a good shot in your mind, you’re not going to create one with your swing.

Schienberg: So, do you accomplish that when set up for each shot.

Coody: I’m always trying to think of how I want the ball to fly – what I want the ball to do.

Schienberg: And you see it before you hit it?

Coody: I can always see what I want, but I don’t always get it. Most of the time, I can visualize it.

Schienberg: There are days you visualize it better than others?

Coody: Obviously, it’s like a picture that some days are clear and other times the reception is blurry.

Schienberg: Do you ever get so frustrated with a particular club not doing what you want it to do.

Coody: Almost every time I play.

Schienberg: Do you make believe it is not in your bag?

Coody: No. It just seems like it’s that particular club that’s always coming out of my bag for some reason. Some days you might be hitting the driver, like Mickelson in the 2006 U.S. Open. He hit the driver bad all day. It wasn’t just on the 18th hole. It was like a snake in his hands.

Schienberg: Michelson had said he had spent hours working on his recovery shots necessary after bad drives. What do you think of that approach?

Coody: That’s a negative. I don’t think it’s a good way to go. He certainly can do what he is talking about. But, if you are focusing on recovery, then you are focusing on you’re going to be there in a bad spot to begin with. It’s not that it’s bad to practice some of those shots, but, I wouldn’t want my mind to anticipate being there.

Schienberg: You hear so much about great recovery shots. Some players talk about driving it as far as they can wherever it goes and the second shot is about an incredible recovery shot onto the green.

Coody: When your goal is to drive it as far as possible, the ball will move around a lot. It’s a better game to hit it shorter and in the fairway. Imagine how much it would have curved if they had hit like that 30 years ago. They would curve it off the golf course. Now, they make clubs and balls that are designed to correct for accuracy.

Schienberg: There is a “utility club” that has been nicknamed “The Forgiver.”

Coody: “The Forgiver?” I got to get myself one of those.

Schienberg: Thanks for your time.

Coody: No problem. I enjoyed it.