It’s 5 am and you have just woken up to make yourself a big breakfast that will provide the sustained energy you need to go out and play the best round of golf you can in your tournament today. You tee off at 8 am with a one hour drive to the course. While you eat, you think about how you will play and are excited to play your best.
You jump in your car anxious to get to the course and get your warm-up done so you can get on the course and kick butt. You feel great, everything is going well in your warm-up and it seems like you will be at the top of your game today. Watch out rest of the field!
Standing on the first tee, you are ready! But, your first tee shot doesn’t go as planned, it’s acceptable though, and it’s a par 5 so still a birdie chance. Then you misjudge the distance or your 3rd shot, leading to a double bogey. Unfortunately, similar results occur throughout the round and you shoot 11 shots over your handicap!…ouch.
During your round you experienced a huge swing of emotions from pumped and feeling good, to totally depressed, not evening wanting to play the second round of the tournament and forgetting about any type of competitive golf ever again. You lost your desire and excitement to even be playing golf in the first place.
Two days later, you see some golf on TV, or you are invited to go out with friends and play again. All of a sudden, you love the game again and sign up for 3 more tournaments. Does this sound familiar? It does to me, and I sometimes don’t know why I put myself through it all, it is very stressful 🙂
Hate Relationship with Golf
As I play more and more tournaments, I have begun to have less and less fun on the course. I am not fully sure why but I think it has something to do with the expectations I place on myself. I am a terrible loser, and If I don’t play to my expectations then I get quite upset with myself, it doesn’t necessarily come out in my attitude on the course, but in my head I think some of the things mentioned in the above anecdote. Why do I even bother, I am not getting better, why spend time and money on this if you are not getting better, stop sacrificing time away from your wonderful wife. I know I cannot win all the time, so it’s not necessarily the losing part that gets me, it’s the fact that I didn’t play to my expectations, expectations that would put me near the top of the field. These feeling and thoughts are not fun and seriously make me second guess playing in any more tournaments. Also, while I try not to bring this negative attitude home with me, those who are close to me can tell I am not happy and it affects them also, totally not fair. So why bother.
Love Relationship with Golf
Thinking all the above makes me begin to lose touch with the reason why I even started to play golf in the first place. I actually really enjoy playing. I know that all great players in any sport expect perfection, otherwise they would not be near perfection; however, what many of these professionals posses is an ability to accept imperfection, or sometimes downright crappy play. They take it as a challenge to get better, a challenge to turn a round of golf around, a challenge to shoot their best 9 hole score right after shooting their worst 9 hole score. How can they do this?
I was watching this movie yesterday called “The Short Game”, which is about the 8 and under world championship of golf at Pinehurst. It was a very interesting movie and aside from some of the overbearing parents, one comment stuck in my head. During the final round of the tournament, the kid who was in first place had a terrible opening 1 or 2 holes, and when asked about it, he said something along the following lines: “Some kids have a bad hole and they lose their happiness, and that’s when all the trouble really starts”. He went on to save his round and win the tournament.
So true, we cannot lose our happiness because of a bad hole, round, or tournament. Clearly we play this game because we actually like it, and we have gotten good enough to play in some tournaments because we actually love the game enough to put in the time and effort needed to get to that level. So, what we need to do is get back our “happiness”.
So what is the goal then? Well you still need to expect greatness in yourself but don’t tie falling short of those expectation with losing your enjoyment of the game, in other words, your happiness to simply be on the course playing. So the next time you are playing bad, do like Happy Gilmore does, and find your happy place, which for most of us will be on the golf course.
The Barefoot Golfer