HJGT recently caught up with mental game guru and professional golfer, Ben Esposito, to learn more about In The Golf Zone and mastering the mental game for junior golfers.
How did you get your start and what inspired you to launch In The Golf Zone?
In The Golf Zone was originally an idea for a blog that I had when I was a junior golfer. It sat on the shelf for a while, but it was finally time to bring the idea to fruition this past year. After being around the game for years, consuming every bit of knowledge possible (from podcasts to books and articles), I realized many parts were left out of the discussion. The biggest part that was often omitted was the mental game and how much our thought process affects our performance. Therefore, I wanted to create a platform to share this with everyone.
What is “Mental Golf Type Performance Coaching” and how is it unique or different from other coaching systems?
Mental golf type is the only mental coaching program that utilizes your mental preferences and coaches you based on your personality. It’s essentially like a club fitting for the mind. By working with me, a certified MGT coach, you will learn what your peak state is for performance and how to identify your stressed state. Everyone is unique, and therefore it is important to make changes that highlight those natural qualities. Tiger and Phil are very different, so you can imagine they approach the mental game differently. No golfers are the same, and golf is not “one-size-fits-all”, so the same is true for the mental game.
Different golfers will have stressors based on their preferences and personality. Understanding these stressors will help you stay present, commit to shots and refocus when it feels a little shaky. Other coaching will make general recommendations, but none have an in-depth explanation of why certain methods work for some golfers and not others.
What is the most common mental game challenge for junior golfers these days and why?
The biggest mental challenge that junior golfers face these days may be acknowledging how important the mental game is and why breakdowns in rounds are usually caused by stress and not their swing. No one loses their swing overnight, but one’s state of mind can certainly change instantly. Mental coaching is essential to help juniors prepare for the pressures of competitive golf, self-imposed or otherwise.
Another challenge today is the amount of information out there when it comes to scores, rankings, swing tips on Instagram, etc. It’s nice to have access to this information quickly, but you need to filter this information and recognize what's helpful and what's not.
Can you share any recent case studies of a junior golfer who benefited from your system?
Since becoming an In The Golf Zone student, Ryder Hodgson has won 4 junior events in the last month (each victory was by a margin of 4 or more). I’ve also had other juniors discover that a weakness in their game was caused by their awareness or process rather than physical mistakes. For example, players that are great ball strikers have a tendency to have steps in their short game shot process that would take them out of their ideal performance state. This coaching program teaches you the self-awareness needed to make adjustments back into a state that will allow you to play your best.
What advice do you have for parents considering hiring a mental game coach for their junior golfer?
One’s mental game has the greatest impact on tournament performance. If you find your junior golfer is shooting significantly higher in tournaments than at their home course or want to lay the groundwork for a strong performance later in their career, mental coaching is essential. Many players have the skills but often have trouble showcasing them in tournaments until they learn to manage the facets of the mental game. Mental coaches are part of an extended team like swing coaches, PTs, and any other golf mentors.
Another piece of advice is that the player also has to buy in. The more the player believes and is willing to commit to mental game improvements the better they will play. Unfortunately, it's not as glamorous as hitting drivers or making putts on the practice green but simple mental checks can have a lasting impact. Juniors have already spent so much time on their physical game, so devoting a small chunk of time to the mental game just makes sense.
Are there any hidden benefits that come from mental coaching?
I’ve found and seen the self-awareness built on course translates to life off the course. Learning more about one’s mental preferences can help with general anxiety management, handling tough situations, communication, and understanding thought patterns. It has been said that golf can be a metaphor for life so it's not surprising that skills learned are transferable.
For more information or to book a FREE no-obligation consultation with Ben Esposito, visit: In The Golf Zone