The Mental Side of Golf

How often do we hear that the game is 90% mental, yet what do we ever do to help improve our mental game? Many of us work on mechanics, but not many golfers are working on the mental aspect. It’s an indicator of how far teaching & coaching have come that some of the professionals who do it best are actually off the lesson tee these days, devoted to technologies that improve golf performance, and are built with science in mind. Tim Suzor is a great example of this. He is a right brained, left-handed golfer from Michigan, a fellow Ferris State Alum, and the founder/CEO of THINQ Sports. Tim developed a new approach to golf performance. He, along with a few partners created the first real tool to train your brain for golf. Tim has worked with players who have won at every competitive level including the PGA & LPGA Tours, as well as NCAA Division I. Tim believes the mental game should be worked on just as much if not more than simple swing mechanics and ball flight laws. Included is my interview with the man responsible for creating this great tool for golf. (THINQ Sports) Please Enjoy.


(ML): Tell me about your early golf experiences.

(TS): I grew up in Houghton Lake, MI in the Northern Lower Peninsula, where my father was the town veterinarian. When I was 7 years old, my family built a house on a golf course. To me it was a great big playground in our backyard.


(ML): Did you golf a lot as a kid?

(TS): I was left-handed and had a really old set of clubs and I basically played golf recreationally. In 1987 when I graduated from high school I went off to the University of Western Michigan to study aviation.


(ML): At what point did you steer toward a career in golf?

(TS): The summer after my freshman year my brother and I were playing golf with a guy and his grandson. We got to talking and they told me about Ferris State University and their Professional Golf Management Program – Ferris was the original PGM site, established in 1975. I began my studies and internships the next year after proving my playing ability.


(ML): After school, where did your focus shift next?

(TS): After a couple years of teaching full time I became interested in biomechanics, especially the kinematic sequence, as we call it. That led me to join the K-Vest staff where I would end up teaching their level 1 and 2 certification courses. I used what I was learning to create the Kinetic Golf Academy at Camelback.


(ML): Was that roughly the time when you started teaching Tour Professionals?

(TS): Yes, although on a small scale to start. As time went by I added more players including Anna Nordqvist on the LPGA Tour. I found myself paying more attention to how the brain is involved in golf performance.


(ML): Is that why you founded THINQ Sports?

(TS): Yes, so in 2011 Dr. Debbie Crews and I founded THINQ Sports, with the idea of specializing in cognitive skill training. It is a video game based learning platform that trains essential mental skills for optimum performance. Given the demands of startup, I backed away from teaching one on one lessons.


(ML): Did that feel like a major turn in your career path?

(TS): It did, but I was excited to be involved in something that can help 60 million players as opposed to one at a time.


(ML): Regarding brain function and patterns, do men and women think differently?

(TS): There is right-brain dominance and left-brain dominance, but it’s not a male-female thing. What IS interesting is that someone like Anna Nordqvist, who is more of a left-brain type – more analytical, less intuitive – can turn that off. She can be in a lesson soaking everything up and processing it, and then she’ll walk to the tee and totally shut off the mechanical thoughts.


(ML): So there is a “learning mode” and a “performing mode”?

(TS): Yes, and golfers should be aware of this. For example, most of the best players are typically more right brain, one second before they take the club back. Meanwhile most golfers learn and read a lot of left-brain analytical information. Coaches and players need to understand if they are more left or right brain dominant. A better player can usually execute feelings and pictures.


            Tim is very passionate in regards to training the brain to play better golf. He believes we need to get out of our own way on the golf course and clear our minds before each shot. It is a very interesting concept, and one I know I am interested to learn more about over the coming years.

-Matthew Lindberg, PGA