Better Golf Through Meditation With Muse

podcast_header_parrOur guest this episode is professional golfer and performance coach Andrew Parr. In this episode we’ll talk about how meditating with a new product called Muse can improve your golf game. Muse is a personal meditation assistant in the form of a headband that senses brainwaves. You can learn more at

In this interview we discuss:

  • How professional golfers use meditation to improve their performance
  • How Muse provides real-time feedback of the activity of your mind
  • Why a mindfulness practice can help golfers of all skill levels
  • Techniques top golf coaches use to interrupt bad habits
  • What the future looks like for golf and mental training

Interviewer: Walter Lis. Running Time: 15:32

Andrew Parr: The golf business for me is always playing golf. So I grew up I guess always sort of admiring golf pros you know, Freddie Couples and Greg Norman and obviously Tiger Woods was a huge influence. And so when I was in my teenage years I wanted to be a tour pro. I dedicated my whole life to that and went to school at Texas A&M and played there for four years and was All-American there and played on the Team Canada at the World Amateur where we finished second and so had some success in the amateur ranks and just kind of jumped into professional golf.

I played for the last eight years on every major tournament in the world from I think seven events on the PGA Tour, played European Tour, Asian Tour, South African Tour, Latina America, PGA Tour of Canada. So I guess my experience and playing you know Q Schools and a major championship at the US Open really started to understand I guess just observing myself and the other guys I was playing with. But things really worked well and you know considering what a good career looks like, what skills are necessary to implement.

So I’ve been doing mostly coaching since last January. I met Chris Aimone, who’s the co-founder at Muse at a friend’s house over Christmas. We hit it off instantly and felt like this was a tremendous tool for me to be able to provide some of the players I was coaching. So that’s how I got involved with Muse.

Chicago Golf Report: Can you give a little bit of overview then of what exactly is Muse and then secondly how you use it in your coaching.

Andrew Parr: Of course, Muse is an EEG and it’s a consumer EEG so most EEG devices are tens or twenties of thousands of dollars and have only been used in clinical settings. EEG measures your brainwaves.

So what we’re doing is we are measuring the brainwaves and seeing when you’re in a focused and meditative state, and then also when you’re distracted, wandering and thinking state. We used this within an algorithm as a tool for meditation.

If you’ve never meditated before this is a great tool to teach you because it gives you real-time feedback of the activity of your mind. I’ll use the example of we have a couple of settings, but one is the rainforest.

When you’re in a focused and meditative state the rain is is just gently coming down. And then when your mind gets more distracted and wanders and it does, then the intensity of the rain picks up. That’s just a cue to let you know where you are in that moment.

And again I think what is great about this tool is it doesn’t do anything for you, it tells you where you’re at and then you make the decision how you want to train. So when I am distracted, I then bring my attention back to my breath and that cycle repeats over and over again and essentially the practice with the meditation is following your breath and your point of focus. We get distracted and then we bring out attention back to that point of focus.

Chicago Golf Report: So then can you talk a bit about the impact that makes – being able to kind of get your focus and improve it? What kind of impact do you see in your play and in your students’ play? Does it affect them over time or how does it kind of evolve?

Andrew Parr: I can speak from my experience first and then I’ll speak upon some guys that I’ve literally worked with just a couple of weeks. In my experience the ability to focus is one of the major skills in all sports or maybe life, but specifically golf.

So there’s many things that are distracting us on the golf course and I think that’s what makes it such a great game, whether it’s the course, the conditions – whether it’s raining of too hot or the course is really firm or it’s really soft, your playing competitors, rules officials. There’s so much going on around you while you’re playing, so these things are important to consider and when we don’t really know what’s happening around us then these things sort of take us over and we lose focus of what we need to do.

So when we train I’ll use meditation. It’s mainstream now and you know a lot of the top performers have been using this forever, for literally thousands of years. But when we train on meditation-focused attention we then start to get the awareness of when we are becoming distracted. And that’s huge for any athlete specifically you know in my case golf where, I can see a little more quickly when that’s happening.

Instead of maybe losing one shot or two shots, you’re able to pick that up and then refocus essentially on the target. That’s kind of what it comes down to is putting the ball in the hole. So it helps in that respect. It also helps us when we’re actually in the process of hitting the shot, being able to narrowly focus on the target in a way that really integrates the rest of our you know body and our club selection and all of these things.

There was one college player that I’ve been working with I guess really for two weeks but he was really struggling, having anxiety, performance anxiety and he started using it literally two weeks ago and finished in the top 10 in his next event. So I think for someone who hasn’t ever really hasn’t trained the mind the effects are almost immediate, because for the couple of things that I mentioned before (a) you understand when you’re distracted and (b) you’re able to focus very quickly.

If you take someone who’s never done this sort of training before and give it to them, they’re usually able to implement it right away. And then obviously the affects grow over time the more we practice.

Chicago Golf Report: It’s very interesting because it seems like when oftentimes you ask people about meditation there’s a little bit in trepidation, and almost universally people say well I’m not very good because of the fact that I can’t stop thinking about a lot of things at once. From your experience with Muse how long did it take before you started to see like okay I can do this, and then secondly oh, I’m starting to feel a little bit of a benefit here.

Andrew Parr: In my experience, meditation goes back 25 years. As a kid my uncle taught me meditation and so it was a practice that I did I didn’t do it regularly like a formal sitting practice which Muse encourages. So I guess to answer your first question I think meditation, certainly in the Western world is seen as some sort of religious dogma and it has tradition around it that is somewhat true from some traditions.

Mostly all religions and really you can take it out of the context of religion, but many of the most admired people in the world of all-time have used some form of meditation. I think that’s probably in the Western world seen as something like woo-woo as we really don’t understand what the actual practice is. But the practice itself is across all cultures for all length of time.

And speaking specifically about the practice meditation most people, you’re right, feel like they can’t do it. You know it may be boring, they don’t understand, they don’t have time for it, things like that. And the first thing that I always tell people is that meditation is not about clearing the mind. It’s about practicing when the mind becomes distracted, bringing your attention back to a point of focus and this is happening constantly.

I was with a Zen monk a couple of weeks ago and he was saying that his mind never stops thinking ever, and he’s been practicing for 25 years. But the practice is actually just recognizing the thinking and bringing our attention back to what’s important at this time.

Muse is great for a couple of reasons, one because we are listening to real time feedback of the activity of our minds, we start to understand when we are focused and when we are distracted. And I think that’s hugely important for someone who’s never meditated before or doesn’t have a meditation teacher. And a lot of us don’t have access to that or not sure where to get access. So I think it’s an amazing tool for anyone, certainly for beginners to really understand the activity that’s happening in their mind.

I think when someone starts to use it then they begin to see what’s happening in those sessions, and then they can begin to see what’s happening you know when they’re not practicing and when they are out in the real world, when they’re either competing or they’re playing with their friends or they’re at work.

Chicago Golf Report: Can you give a kind of a brief overview of exactly what’s the first step to start it and I guess get started with it.

Andrew Parr: Yes so Muse, you can literally if you’ve never meditated before in your life, you get the device and you download the app for free in the app store. And there is a little booklet that comes with it. It’s literally two pages. It just shows you how to pair the Bluetooth part of the device with your phone. For that you literally hold down the start button for six seconds, it starts blinking. You then go to your Bluetooth setting and connect your phone that way.

MUSE-ILLUSTRATIONAfter that it will take you through a complete, very short but a central part of meditation. So it teaches you what the practice is and how to do it in probably five minutes. I think that’s the coolest thing about Muse is that meditation is very simple training but a lot don’t know how to do it, and Muse shows us how to do it in five minutes really just through audio.

Chicago Golf Report: Based on your experience with Muse and obviously your experience within golf, what do you think Muse can do for golfers or more appropriately in the next two or three years, where do you think Muse will go? Do you think it will be sort of a part of golfers or maybe do you think it will be a push towards more awareness for golfers towards meditation, or maybe be your goal for Muse?

Andrew Parr: I think the cool thing that’s happening right now in the wearable space is that we’re starting to see the data and coaches and players are using that data for their benefit. So meditation and Muse specifically is really allowing us to have insight into mental training really for the first time, certainly on a consumer level and even for you know the top professionals in the world. So they have access to this at any time of day.

Like I said, a lot of the best athletes in the world right now are meditating. As you saw Tiger Woods had this crazy fitness regime, now all golfers are in the gym working out. The same will happen and is happening in mental training in meditation.

That trickle-down effect I think will just continue to spread and like there’s already over a dozen guys o the PGA Tour using these to help facilitate their meditation practice. And I think it will just continue to grow. I think this is just a revolutionary tool that helps people really understand where they’re at and how to improve.

I think over time one thing that I see is kids are so familiar with technology and they’re so integrated into it, they pick up Muse and it makes perfect sense for them. I really see the younger generations really loving this as much as you know kind of a middle-aged man or woman.



Walter Lis

Walter Lis is the managing editor of Chicago Golf Report. Launched in 2010, Chicago Golf Report is the most visited website on Chicago golf and is one of the top ten most popular local golf websites in the country. We are a digital-only news and information resource covering everything golf in Chicago and its suburbs, providing the latest news about local golf facilities, golf events, golf instruction and even golf business.

Chicago Golf Report
Compare items
  • Total (0)
Shopping cart