Book Review: Golf On Auto Focus

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Book Review:
Golf On Auto Focus, by Alan Edmunds, Ph.D.
Reviewed by Jeffrey Reed, Editor,

It’s true, golf is a game of a lifetime – a passion to be enjoyed from the time we can stand as a toddler, to the period in life when a good walk spoiled takes on, well, a whole new meaning.

In fact, anyone who has faced a winding downhill putt with a tournament – or even just a few bucks – on the line has felt the need to change their drawers.

The game has produced a myriad of quotes over the years which touch upon the mental game. Slammin’ Sammy Snead once quipped, “Of all the hazards, fear is the worst.” And Ben Crenshaw said, “I’m about five inches from being an outstanding golfer. That’s the distance my left ear is from my right.”

Without a doubt, Western University associate professor, author, lecturer and sports psychologist Alan Edmunds smiles from ear to ear when reminded of a trio of quotes which echo the teachings of his new book, Golf On Auto Focus: Training Your Brain to Better Your Game.

The great Nancy Lopez said, “Golf is a difficult game, but it’s a little easier if you trust your instincts. It’s too hard a game to try and play like someone else.” The King – Arnold Palmer – said, “The whole secret to mastering the game of golf – and this applies to the beginner as well as the pro – is to cultivate a mental approach to the game that will enable you to shrug off the bad days, keep patient and know in your heart that sooner or later you will be back on top.”

autofocusjacketI particularly like this quote from Bobby Jones, who said, “(The golfer) must have the courage to keep trying in the face of ill luck or disappointment, and timidity to appreciate and appraise the dangers of each stroke, and to curb the desire to take chances beyond reasonable hope of success.”

In order to appreciate Edmunds’ new book, you must also heed the words of those hall of fame golfers. When you do, then you’ll understand what Edmunds attempts to instill in all of us who have a passion for this great game of golf.

In the early-2000s, Edmunds couldn’t wrap his head around why a golfer could post an outstanding score one day, then play poorly the next. He also did not comprehend exactly why someone would lose focus within a round, or even from shot to shot.

“It really bothered me,” said Edmunds, as passionate about his studies as he is about the game of golf. “I was puzzled as to why golfers did not play well consistently from one day to the next, and to a finer point, why some play so well during a string of holes, then seem to lose it. The researcher in me said, let’s find out what’s going on here.”

Golf is a difficult game that can bring you to tears stemming from both victory and defeat. In Golf On Auto Focus, Edmunds writes: “My research began by interviewing dozens of golfers, observing hundreds more, and reading every book on the ‘mental game’ that I could get my hands on. Finally, I identified what appeared to be a gap in the typical pre-shot routine that allowed technical thoughts, doubt, and distractions to derail a shot – and sometimes an entire round.”

In fact, while Edmunds’ Golf On Auto Focus offers a simple, five-step routine to add to your own pre-shot routine (there’s an Auto Focus for putting, and another for the full swing, chipping, pitching and bunker shot), his book also offers tips on becoming mentally tough. The two are inseparable, according to Edmunds, who with his new book hopes to help players of all levels better their game.


In simple terms, Golf On Auto Focus teaches the reader how to focus on the right things at the right time, while learning to stop thinking and instead simply become intensely focused – automatically. There are numerous techniques described to improve focus, confidence and control over emotions while under pressure.

Mustangs Victorious

The Edmunds name is part of golf royalty in these parts. Alan Edmunds, 59, was born in London, England, and grew up in Schefferville, Quebec. He played varsity soccer and basketball at Acadia University before making London, Ontario his home.

In 2002, Alan and his daughter, Lindsey Edmunds, formed the Western Mustangs women’s golf program, and quickly turned it into one of the most successful university programs in Canada. Lindsey was a champion golfer at Western, then turned pro upon graduating in 2005. In 2008, she was struck by a car while jogging. But she inherited the Edmunds mental toughness: Lindsey battled back after a career-threatening knee injury, and today is a highly-successful Nike Golf area representative.


Lindsey can still impress on the links, too, as we saw last year with some impressive performances on the Greater London Mini Tour, and a victory with partner Gareth Raflewski at the PGA of Ontario Mixed Team Series at Cambridge Golf Club.

Alan finished his coaching career at Western after the 2006-07 school year. As OUA women’s golf coach of the year in 2005, he helped orchestrate the first-ever women’s golf championships, at his home course of Sunningdale Golf and Country Club. He also coached Team Canada at the World University Golf Championship.

Flash back to 2005 and ’06, when the Mustangs women’s squad won back-to-back OUA titles, and you’ll hear Edmunds hint at what would be the thesis of his new book. In ’05 he said, “Overall, we work very hard at being mentally strong and mentally tough on the golf course.” One year later Edmunds said, “We’ve been very mentally strong. I know that sounds like a bit of a cliché, but in golf it’s the utmost element.”

Golf On Auto Focus (167 pages, published 2015 by Alan Edmunds does, indeed, keep mental toughness at its epicentre. I’ve interviewed thousands of amateur and professional athletes for close to four decades, and can attest that no game comes close to golf in terms of its need to be sharp between the ears.

While golf is a great game, it can sometimes be cruel, too. Edmunds was once a low single-digit handicap golfer, and a Sunningdale member from 2001-2011. But severe arthritis in both hands and wrists saw him give up the game, and instead focus on, well, helping the rest of us stay focused on the links.

Auto Focus: Putting It To The Test

In 2008, Edmunds conducted a study at Sunningdale which included 24 male golfers with a handicap index between 8.0 and 12.0. They filled out a survey which measured their golf confidence, then played six rounds without Edmunds’ Auto Focus teachings within their pre-shot routine. Thirteen golfers were chosen to continue with the study, since their scores formed the tightest group.

Edmunds then divided the 13 men into three groups for further analysis in order to put Auto Focus to the test. The results didn’t lie: each of those golfers improved his scoring average with the use of Auto Focus.

On the full swing, for example, here’s the Auto Focus strategy:

Look – Turn your head and take a last look at your precise target.
Back – As your head turns back to the ball, envision the line between your target and the ball.
Focus – Mentally and visually fixate your gaze on the back edge of the ball.
Tick – Start your back swing.
Tock – Swing through the golf ball; Tock happens at contact.

The Tick-Tock steps are common to golf instruction which teaches proper rhythm. And like Tick-Tock, Auto Focus is a strategy which can benefit every golfer, according to Edmunds. He said, “What I’m advocating with, Golf On Auto Focus, is a method which you can tack onto your pre-shot routine. It’s not the entire pre-shot routine.”

A pre-shot routine – whether it involves Mike Weir’s waggle or Jason Day’s closed eyes and wide smile – is as unique to a golfer as his or her fingerprint. Edmunds now hopes to make a large footprint which his new book, which most definitely would aid any golfer looking for a more solid and fundamental game.

An avid golfer until recently, and former golf coach and caddy for elite golfers, Edmunds now works as a sports psychologist with elite athletes from many sports, including high-profile divers in Ontario. As his aforementioned quotes attest to, he has always been a big advocate of mental toughness.

DrAlanEdmunds-2-largeGolf On Auto Focus includes eight chapters which study the mental aspects of golf; lacking focus on the golf course; golf emotions; building golf confidence; mental toughness and attitude; and of course, Auto Focus.

Anyone who has seen the baseball movie, For The Love Of The Game, knows that “clearing the mechanism” is imperative to not only pitching, but also to striking or putting a golf ball. Edmunds said Auto Focus “teaches a player to be intensely and precisely focused when the golf swing happens, while simultaneously eliminating all distracting thoughts.”

In Golf On Auto Focus, Edmunds penned the phrase “golf honeymoon” – the period when someone purchases a new golf club, or buys into a new tip from an instructor, both of which can provide a quick fix and unbridled enthusiasm, yet don’t provide lasting results. Said Edmunds, “The golf honeymoon was one thing that intrigued me: why is it that people seem to get better at the very beginning, yet don’t sustain it? I would say that happens to 98 out of 100 people. So again the researcher in me said, what’s going on?”

Golf On Auto Focus is already winning new fans. Raflewski, a short-game coach recently named PGA of Ontario Teacher of the Year, called the Auto Focus method “a brilliant and easy system to follow.” Raflewski said many golfers “fall short of their potential due to a lack of focus. Unlike in other golf books, Dr. Edmunds clearly identifies why we lose focus and provides clear and concise steps on how to build a strong mental focus.”

While Raflewski’s comments are part of Edmunds’ selling sheet, they are accurate. I’ve read an endless amount of golf literature pointing to golf fixes. Edmunds’ book is easily read, with a fix that is one-size-fits-all, but accommodates every unique pre-shot routine, for every level of golfer. Of course, golf will never be perfected. And because there is a physical element, even Jordan Spieth can hit a bad shot. But the Auto Focus method has a lot of teeth, and should help most golfers.

This isn’t Edmunds’ first book – he has published numerous academic offerings. But for the golfer, Golf On Auto Focus makes the grade.

Golf On Auto Focus
Alan Edmunds
Publisher Alan Edmunds 2015
ISBN 9781519614315
178 pages available in paperback $14.99 or Kindle $7.18 at

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About jeffreyreed

A leading Canadian communications professional. Corporate office established 1989.