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  • John Pates

Music and Golf Performance

Updated: Jul 25



For the ancients namely Galileo, Orpheus and Pythagoras, music had “miraculous power’ James (1995:99). Plato viewed it as ‘medicine to the soul’ Carroll (2011:171–178). Music as an intervention strategy is a ‘technique’ I use widely in my consultancy services. I have found no other psychological intervention changes emotions, feelings, and cognitions so quickly. As a basketball player in the 90s, I was aware music played an important part in my training. I was conscious I used music to regulate my emotions and wire my brain for important competitions.

As a neo scientist, I realized the profound shift in consciousness produced by music could be a useful tool for uncovering experiences that are normally asleep in the unconscious. For example, when I play my favorite music, I notice memories and experiences from different periods in my life would emerge from the unconscious with every wave and vibration in sound. The altered state of consciousness induced by the music was positive and transcendental. It was often a spiritual like experience, where, as William James put it, I felt union with something larger than myself, and in that union, I found the thoughts and emotions I needed to transform my game. For many years, music became part of my pre-competition routine.

Before 2003, the idea of music may be a powerful performance-enhancing tool was not documented in sports psychology literature. To address this problem, I conducted an empirical study that examined the effects of music on the shooting performance of collegiate netball players. The music played to them was music that matched the feelings and emotions they associated with the altered state of consciousness called flow. The results of this investigation demonstrated a positive effect, with athletes enhancing their shooting performance and their experience of flow. Additionally, the athletes experienced a heightened sense of relaxation, confidence, fun, enhanced concentration, and movements that felt automatic and rhythmical (see Pates et al., 2003).

Constructed from my experiences and empirical investigations, I frequently use music in my work as a practitioner. For example, in my first consultancy contract with the British Open winner and Ryder Cup star Darren Clarke, I asked Darren to recall in his mind the best game of his career and then match the feelings he had experienced with a musical composition. His reply was immediate. He said the experience was his victory against Tiger woods at Wentworth in the world matchplay championships and the music that matched the feelings he associated with that experience was the ‘eye of the tiger’. Based on this information I asked Darren to use the music in his pre-shot routine and play the music in his mind during his swing. The music intervention had an overwhelming effect on his performance. With only one day of practice using this technique, Darren shot a score of 65. He then went on to win the tournament that week which was his first victory on tour in 3 years. Using a similar approach with Ryder cup star Stephen Gallacher, Stephen matched his best performance memories with the music of Morrisey and the Smiths. His routine helped him to win 5 PGA tournaments and play the Ryder cup in his native land of Scotland.

In the world of golf, other infamous players have used music to enhance their performance. Sam Snead, for example, played golf to the waltz and recorded more victories (82) than any player in PGA Tour history. He learned about using music to control his swing from his idol Bobby Jones. Jones was the only player in PGA player to win all the Majors in 1 year. Perhaps the best-known athlete that used music to enhance performance was the most decorated Olympic champion of all time Michael Phelps. His use of hip-hop music to regulate his emotions before his competitions are well documented.

Taken together the evidence presented shows Music creates feelings and emotions that are important for optimizing athletic performance. The memories and information induced by music normally lie hidden in the unconscious and collective unconscious. I suggest access to the collective unconscious through music may also provide athletes with information about their future. This would give a player a distinct advantage.

Interestingly, Rory is one of many tour players who utilize music to prepare for competitions. Music may open a window to the quantum field, providing information required to win events. In an interview with the golf channel, Rory confessed he won the British Open with the Adele song “Rolling in the deep” caught in his head. I suggest music opened the window to the quantum field giving Rory access to the knowledge and information he needed to win that event.

Understanding how music generates these effects can be explained using a phenomenon known as non-local entanglement. Entanglement is a prediction of quantum theory coined by Schrödinger. Einstein called “spooky action at a distance.” It predicts when two separate systems become entangled and then separated by significant distances, they somehow remain connected. The principal characteristic is that isolated particles remain instantaneously connected through spacetime, and to date, all experimental tests of these predictions have been confirmed (Gisin, 2009).

Thousands of experiments support this theory, however, the “nonlocal” connection that transcends the classical boundaries of space and time was initially thought to apply only to microscopic particles. But recent advances have shown that nonlocality is a general phenomenon that also occurs in macroscopic systems (Vedral, 2008). For example, in a fascinating study that examined EEG brain wave activity involving identical twins Radin (2006) describes an experiment where a change in brain wave activity of one twin caused a simultaneous change in the brain wave activity of another twin placed at a distance. He called these “entangled brain” experiments and they have been replicated on numerous occasions with people who are biologically connected. Interestingly, the phenomena are not observed in people who are not connected (see Wackermann, 2004).

The entangled mind theory implies a vision of a mind that is separated from matter is an illusion (Radin, 2006). The mind instead appears to be connected to all matter. As the double-slit experiments demonstrate, the mind is responsible for all physical reality. The mind appears to be connected with matter through non-local entanglement. Joseph Bells' theorem and equations support this conjecture and have proved Einsteins theory that the mind and matter are separate entities and do not have a cause and effect relationship to be wrong. The implications of the studies presented here are far-reaching because they suggest human minds may function as a quantum computer. It also suggests in the human mind entanglement is pervasive and occurs all of the time.

It is evident from the research presented here that the mind can affect material objects at both a microscopic and macroscopic level. This suggests the mind can will things to happen. This is why elite athletes perform better in clutch situations. Under pressure the greatest athletes make things happen. They do this using their will and intuitive abilities. It is my suggestion elite athletes are gifted individuals who can surf through the entangled unconscious and quantum field for information that can be used to enhance their performance.

It is my suggestion athletes perform optimally when they rely on the forces of the quantum field. Their connection with the quantum field gives them access to absolute knowledge. The lack of non-linear time within the quantum world means knowledge from the past, present, and future coexist and can be accessed simultaneously. This gives an organism that is non-conscious the ability to respond and adapt to new situations with ultra-fast speeds. This behavior pattern is not seen in athletes who use their conscious mind to control movement patterns and performance. Athletes need to be non-conscious to perform at their peak. Keeping the mind in a non-conscious state is, therefore, key to controlling optimal performance in sport.

This is a major dilemma for coaches. Indeed, coaches who train athletes through the instruction are essentially training athletes to be consciously aware of everything. This will inhibit an athlete’s access to the quantum field. This implies athletes who are trained to heighten their conscious awareness through instruction perform poorly. In a series of experiments expanding 20 years Masters and his associates, for example, have demonstrated athletes who have no instructions to perform a motor task out-perform athletes who are ‘coached’ instructed to perform a motor task. Athletes who have been given little or no instruction have also shown to be better performers in major competitions (see Masters, 1992; Lam, Maxwell & Masters, 2007). In other words, coaches who use implicit learning techniques create athletes who perform better than athletes who use explicit learning techniques.

Empirical and anecdotal evidence from many high-performance environments supports this conjecture. For example, coaches using a game-based approach where little or no instruction is given to learn and perform motor skills, consistently develop higher-performing athletes. It is my contention athletes trained in this manner have a distinct advantage because they rely upon their sixth sense (their intuitive abilities). Their reliance on their sixth sense (intuitive abilities) gives them access to the quantum field and absolute knowledge. The subjective experience that something is about to happen a Gut-feeling occurs when the mind becomes entangled with information in the quantum field. It also explains how all of our subjective feelings emerge.

Entanglement theory is being applied to the development of a new generation of computers called quantum computers. It is also being used to explain biological systems. The question that remains here is whether or not entanglement can explain optimal performance and the states of mind experienced by elite athletes. I am suggesting it does. In the non-conscious state, the mind of an elite athlete becomes entangled to information in the quantum field that gives them access to absolute knowledge. Access to this universal knowledge-based system provides them with foreknowledge which allows them to anticipate better than everyone else and be in the right place at the right time. An important question now remains. How can we train athletes to access the information contained in the quantum field?


Mind-body therapists have been doing this for centuries. Through meditation, hypnosis, and music, therapists can use the knowledge contained in the quantum field to heal, optimize performance, and transform human behavior. Music and Hypnosis, for example, can become entangled with our memories, thoughts, feelings, and intuition, so when music is played it generates an emotional phenomenal conscious experience capable of producing emotions and information important for both performance and psychological well-being. For me, it is the ultimate mind-matter transformational tool.



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