The Ultimate Visualization

I played golf today and scored in the 90’s. Yay! I have been working on my golf game since I was 14, so that has been, ahem, let’s just say a “long time”.

For anyone who has never played golf, the object is to get the lowest score possible, and the “par” expected on most courses is 72. So hitting in the 90’s is average, and for me, very acceptable. I dream of getting better, and just expect incremental improvements, lessons, and practice to get me there.

Well, just like me, Major James Nesmeth had also been an average golfer, shooting in the mid to low 90’s. And, like me, he also had a dream of improving his golf game. But he then did something unique. He developed a method of achieving his goal of great improvements in his game, and he did it over seven years when he completely quit the game, never touched a club, and never set foot on a fairway.

Ironically it was during this seven year break that he came up with this amazingly effective technique—one we can all learn from, and one which some of us use ourselves and with our clients. What was the secret?


The results can be astonishing. The first time Major Nesmeth set foot on a golf course after his hiatus from the game, he cut 20 strokes off his game. And he did that even though his condition had deteriorated during those years. You see, Major Nesmeth had been taken as a prisoner of war in North Vietnam during the Vietnam War. During those seven years he was imprisoned in a cage four and half feet high by five feet long. That isn’t big enough to stand in or even move around. He saw no one, talked to no one, and had no physical activity. He soon realized that he needed to occupy his mind or go insane, like many others did in similar situations. He was determined not to. So in desperation, he learned to visualize.

In his mind he selected his favorite golf course and started playing golf. Every day he played a full 18 holes, experiencing everything down to the last detail from getting dressed, to sensing the weather, smelling the trees and freshly cut grass to hearing the birds. He imagined different weather conditions and experienced every stroke, every hill and valley, and hit his ball onto the fairways or over a pond or into and out of a sandtrap. He felt the grip of the club in his hand, watched the ball arc over the fairway, and bounce right to the spot he had selected in his mind. He then walked, in his mind, just as he would to the next shot, the next green, the next tee. Not once did he omit anything, and now he never missed a shot, never hit it off target, and never missed a putt.

He did this seven days a week, four hours a day, eighteen holes, for seven years. And when he got home and could actually play again, his game was incredible. He shot a 74.

Can you imagine how visualizing success in what you are looking for could help you?

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