When new people come to golf, they often come to it with a conquering attitude, unfortunately. They see the pros playing on TV, making it look easy, hitting it long and straight, and they decide that is something they want to do. It doesn’t look like a lot of exertion, like say tennis or basketball, but it is captivating and alluring how far that ball flies. They think that’s cool, like a video game or something, so they set out to go whack that ball way out there.
When people go into golf in this way, they don’t appreciate and value the game, and all that it has to offer. They treat golf like they treat other things in their life, with a lack of understanding and respect, and as dispensable. We trash our houses, cars, bodies, and minds while not adequately revering them, thinking we can just buy fun, entertainment, and well-being, not investing the time and energy to get involved and give our attention and care to things anymore. We forget to realize that we only get out of life what we put in, and that if we just try to keep using and taking, it leads to much unhappiness.
And so this brings me back to golf, where this manifests before my eyes every week on the golf course where I teach. I see people out there hurrying, flailing away, and desperate to hit good shots as they struggle in vain to dominate the golf ball, eliminate the unpredictability of the game, and occasionally want to quit because they can’t come close to controlling where their ball goes. They have an ill-equipped and undisciplined mindset, that in its irresponsibility is leading to unnecessary frustration and anger, isn’t helping them get better, and isn’t allowing them to grow in the game.
Without writing a whole dissertation on this intensive subject, here are a few things to keep in mind as you go on in your journey in golf:
1) Continually Judging Your Golf Shots is Unproductive – When our emotions and inner well-being are based on shot-by-shot evaluations, it means we are much too results-oriented rather than process oriented. We forget that the good, rewarding results of the golf shot, are the dessert we get once in a while from insightful effort and time applied, they are not the norm. The norm is the continual learning process of understanding and working through our bad shots, learning our errant swing tendencies, and rehearsing the fundamentals over and over.
2) Most Golfers’ Expectations Are Incorrect – You can have high expectations, as long as those expectations are valid, and you have tolerance of your human limitations. We view anything less than meeting our expectations as failure or a setback, when perhaps our expectations are short-sighted and an unrealistic pipe dream. Making correct expectations means putting expectations on the things you have some control over, like where your attention, thoughts, and energy will be directed. If they are usually directed outwardly at the results of your shot, you will have much frustration and discontent on the range; whereas those expectations directed at your actions are realistic, smart, and attainable as they lead to growth, progress, and better scores. There are certain things that we have control over, i.e. the speed of our backswing, noticing our footwork, awareness of our grip pressure, etc.; and then there are other things that we do not have control over, such as where the ball is going to go — know the difference!!
3) No Matter How Good You Get, You’re Still Going to Hit Lots of Bad Shots – This is something the tour pro has had to accept, yet the amateur golfer usually doesn’t understand. After endless competition and hitting millions of golf balls for years and years from a young age to present, the tour player knows they will still hit many bad shots for the rest of their career. If they want to get on tour or remain on tour, they know that what’s important is how they manage those bad shots, and themselves, on the golf course.
So with all this said, remain patient and calm within when hitting bad shots, as you notice, sense, and feel your tendencies, while holding your finish for at least 4 seconds after every shot – especially if you have flubbed or missed it. Be a smart golfer please, don’t be another one of those hackers on the range who’s ego is hanging in the balance – the one who beats balls in a frenzy while they are spinning their wheels out there, giving us all wincing entertainment through their silly, frustrated, out-of-control behavior. Be better to yourself than that, slow down, respect the process, and look to reality as your friend.