As a high-level music snob, you best believe I choose what music I listen to before a round carefully and I’m willing to bet you’ve never consciously considered what kind of effect this can have on your game.
While I’m certainly not suggesting that what you listen to before you play is going to all of the sudden turn you into a scratch golfer, but at the same time, ever since I started thinking about it I have noticed some stuff that’s made some kind of impact, and whether or not it’s complete bullshit, hey, it’s better to think about something like this than read some bullshit Golf Digest tips article…because those things are the worst, Jerry. The worst.
This isn’t a scientific study and I sure as hell didn’t write my findings down because, in all honesty, I don’t really remember to think about it everytime I’m golfing. Sorry. Sometimes I got shit on my mind or I’m in all-out golf mode or something. So…yea.
Where am I going with this? Oh, right…ok, so I think first off you have to pack a fat [redacted] in a [redacted] and get [redacted] as fuck and have a solid 30 minute drive ahead of you. You gotta match the music to the mood, ya hurd? If you’re all meh that day, don’t try to force the issue with some up tempo stuff, man, it’ll just piss you off and then you’ll start thinking about other stuff. We can’t get distracted now…/snaps…FOCUS.
The key ingredient to your pre-round soundtrack is RHYTHM. Shit with herky-jerky rhythms? Get it the fuck outta here. You’ll be on the first tee with no idea what to do and no idea where this shit snuck in from. Well it snuck in from listening to a bunch of Radiohead, ya dumbass.
Now, this isn’t to say that all odd rhyhtms are a bad thing. I don’t listen to hip-hop, but I’ve listened to some DJ’s like J Dilla and Z-Trip that have odd rhythms but the big beats are still there. But think about it…if you can’t consciously digest weird, floating rhythms, but you’re listening, your subconscious is processing all that shit so ditch it all together. I like Radiohead, ok? But avoid listening to them before golfing at all costs…I can almost guarantee you’ll have the worst round you’ve had in awhile.
You gotta have something rhythmic that matches not just your mood, but also your personality. Just because something works for me doesn’t mean you should ditch your country or whatever and listen to metal, but there are things you can look for that’ll help out your tempo more than others.
I’m going to try to boil down these ideas into something yall can digest but it isn’t really easy to explain. You know when you’re listening to music and you’re bobbing your head? That’s when you’re feeling the big beats, and that’s what you’re looking for.
When you tap your feet or hand or something, you might be feeling the big beats too, but more than likely you’re tapping every beat, almost barely consciously counting it out, and that’s amateur bullshit, so stop. Try doing this…tap on a table 1-2-3-4, 1-2-3-4. Once you got a consistent tempo going, tapping every beat, try only tapping on 1 & 3…you’ll still be counting those upbeats on 2 & 4 in your head, but you’ll also start to feel those big beats*.
*in jazz, the big beats are on 2 & 4 and good fucking lord did that take me forever to get used to, but once you learn how to feel those beats, they turn into landmarks…and I won’t get into it, but clavés in Latin music take this concept to the next level.
These are the types of concepts that pop music exploits to resonate with their biggest market (teenage girls) to the greatest degree. Ever wonder why all pop music sounds the same? Because these musical tricks…simple rhythms, no key changes, moderate tempos…are so easily digested, they can incite these emotional eruptions without the listener even being aware of it. Why do teenage girls go crazy over boy band music that all sounds the same? Bingo**. It’s auditory sugar…HUGE rush followed by an awful crash, and also the reason as people emotionally mature, so do their musical tastes.
**this is why Taylor Swift being lauded for her “songwriting ability” is straight bullshit…she just discovered the formula without the help of professionals.
Back to Golf Please
So what does this have to do with your golf game?
Massage your subconscious to your benefit before your round even starts by choosing the right soundtrack. Whether you want to admit it or not, everything I said above about music eliciting an emotional response is legit, but you can use this response to your advantage.
If you’re confident in your game, go with some uptempo music to get your blood pumping and ready to fire away. Know you’re playing a beast and are going to need to be precise? Something a little slower and rhythmically methodical to get you focused and even-keeled. If your game’s in the shitter and you’re kinda freaking out, listen to one of your favorite songs and get it stuck the fuck in your head…you’ll be singing it to yourself all day, those poisonous thoughts won’t creep into your head.
There’s all sorts of shit you can do…try listening to the exact same songs on your way to the range for a week and warm up hitting the exact same types of shots on the practice green. It will absolutely have an impact on your practice sessions as you’ll be prepping your mind before you hit a shot and be in the right space mentally instead of thinking about a million different things. Bad session? Change the song and ride it out.
The widely reported “Mozart Effect” is largely bullshit, only because Mozart, while incredible, doesn’t press the right buttons.
Bach does. BIG TIME.
Long story short, all the branches of Western music for the past four centuries forks off of Bach’s tree for a reason. Mathematically, it’s perfect. Again, I don’t want to get theoretical, but the biggest concept is dissonance and resolution. Maybe you’ve heard the term “diabolus in musica?” Refers to the devil’s interval, the tri-tone. If you isolate this interval on a piano, it seriously feels like fingernails on a chalkboard, and you can feel that dissonance resonate through your body. Dead serious. This interval, in the standard major scale, is between the 5th note in the scale and the 7th…and it’s because of this interval the V chord is called the dominant, because there’s such a gravitational pull to make this “wrong” right that it influences everything else in a piece moreso than anything, almost including the actual key of the piece.
I know that’s heady shit, but when you resolve that dissonance, you feel this tremendous relief that, once you see it spelled out in its naked form, will completely change the way you listen to classical music.
Anyways, it’s because of this “righting a wrong” and how organized thematically Bach’s music is that, when played for test subjects getting their brains scanned, showed SIGNIFICANTLY increased activity in the frontal lobes, which is a sign your brain is firing on all cylinders. This constant stream of emotional relief combined with the organization and the consistent tempos almost helps reboot your mind and clear it out of any unnecessary distractions…it’s why Bach’s the best study music and you should definitely try listening to some before and during your practice sessions. It blends well into the background, but provides this constant stream of subconscious refreshment, I can guarantee you’ll get more out of your bucket than you think.
So What Do You Listen To?
Why thanks for asking!
My brain, for worse or better, tends to go a million miles per hour in like fifty different directions all at once so I gravitate towards things that have a steady foundation, either harmonically or rhythmically, but have complex melodic ideas going on. Even tho I prefer syncopated music like jazz, funk and blues, it’s the syncopated rhythms I dig so much that’s a recipe for disaster before a golf round. I love the Talking Heads, but they fuck me up big time too.
But the rhythm/harmony can’t be TOO simple either because then I get bored with it and don’t get in the groove. It’s a complex balance, ya know?
I listen to classical music all day at work, and I don’t particularly like driving to it, so my mainstays would be up-tempo, melodic, soaring rawk like the Allman Brothers Live at Fillmore East and Iron Maiden’s Number of the Beast. I’m telling you, you get “Run to the Hills” in your head and you’re in for an awesome round.
You wasted your time reading this and everything I said is [redacted] bullshit.
Have a wonderful day.