What Causes Your Downfall on the Golf Course?


Hitting from the cabbage!

As amateur golfers it does not take much to change our golf game. I guess the same is for the professionals, but I would suggest they are better equipped to avoid those defining moments. It does not take much in some cases to change our attitude, confidence or comfort from good too bad. Likely the opposite is true, but I find fall into the abyss is easier than climbing out.

Understanding our swing mechanics is helps redefine out focus if things are heading south, yet I believe it is not the real challenge. Generally, our swing mechanics remain constant throughout a round of golf. Of course, the better the golfer, the more consistent. But overall, focusing on swing mechanics is a rabbit hole that does not prevent the slide in the wrong direction.

There are many possible answers to this question because of its personal nature. For some, it is a miss hit with their driver or missing a short putt. Immediately they say, “Here we go again!” It is as if they were expecting to fail and were waiting for that one moment when the do. Now they can relax because they have something to blame for their poor score.

Amateurs tend to develop low or negative expectations of their golf game. It is as if they expect to fail and want it to happen sooner so they can enjoy their round of golf.

My situation is similar. I have expectations to shoot by best score every time I hit the links. I think that every hole is a birdie hole and every putt is make-able. Now, many of you are saying common on, that is just unrealistic! It is impossible to birdie every hole or sink every putt. Of course the reality is I cannot accomplish these things, but the important aspect is that I think I can. And this positive expectation helps guide my game to new levels.

My downfall on the golf course occurs when I stop believing I can birdie every hole or sink every putt. I start to doubt my abilities and this negativity has a direct impact on my golf score. Let me give you an example.

Two years ago I was in a 54-hole regional golf tournament at Petawawa, Ontario. I have played in many of these events over the years and every time I have entered thinking I could win. The real goal, however, is to finish in the top 5 to qualify for nationals. I have accomplished both in the past, but it is very challenging because of the quality of the field. Before I teed it up on the first day, I set only one goal, shoot in the 70s on all three days. If I accomplish this goal, I have a chance to advancing to the next level.

Petawawa is a tough track. It tests all parts of your game, especially your course management and shot making skills. During the first two days, I shot a 79, 79. Fairly reasonable, but I had a triple on each day. This mental lapse on one hole was something I want to avoid on the last day. As I started playing, I quickly realized that the last round was going to be more stressful and challenging than first two because of the heat and wind.

After the first 13 holes, I was on track to shoot 82. I jumped on the bogey train early and stopped believing I was good enough to play at this level. With 3 doubles on my card, I was finding it difficult to stay positive and focused on my game. I made on final attempt to correct my game and as I was heading to the 14 hole, I gave myself a pep talk and reaffirmed that I was a good player and anything could happen as long as I believed. Well suddenly, something happened. Instead of focusing on the negative aspects of my game (which would have been my downfall) I remained focused on what I could do. After a great up and down on 14 for par, I went 15 – birdie, 16 – par, 17 – birdie and 18 – birdie. I finished the round shooting a 79. On a side note, it was the best finish by anyone on the last 5 holes all week.

I accomplished my first goal of shooting 3 rounds in the 70s, but missed advancing to nationals by 3 strokes. I finished 7th overall. I was disappointed because I was very close, but was satisfied with how I turned my game around in the last 5 holes of the last round.

Believing in my game is critical to lower golf scores. The moment I stop believing is the downfall for me on the links. My positive attitude and confidence help overcome the bad shots and enhance the feeling satisfaction on the good ones. I try to start this positive thinking before I hit the first tee because it is important, if for some reason I do not, well, let’s just say that those rounds become practice rounds.

What Causes Your Downfall on the Golf Course?

I am a grateful golfer! See you on the links!

14 thoughts on “What Causes Your Downfall on the Golf Course?

  1. Jim, my downfall on the course oddly enough is boredom. I’m very rhythm-oriented, and if the pace of play bogs down, I have to fight hard not to mentally check out! I handle this situation in a variety of ways, but mostly I sing to myself. I’ll pace, a lot. Slow play DRIVES ME CRAZY…

    I’ve played a good many PGA Section events in my career, and unfortunately, professionals are totally guilty of being the slowest human beings on the planet during an event. I know I’m lumping the majority into a barrel (or basket…you have to watch what you say down here)…but seriously golf pros, while we’re young, ok?

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Jim, two things for me. The first is a bad starting hole which is difficult to control. The second is getting greedy. By that I mean flag hunting when I should not or trying recovery shots I have not practiced. Totally controllable. Thanks!


    Liked by 1 person

  3. Well done on that turnaround at Petawawa. You’re right, the crumbling of self belief is when things start to go wrong on the course. I try to stand on each tee expecting to par the hole and maintain that as long as I can into a round in spite of the inevitable poor holes. Good article. Cheers, Rob.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. It’s definitely mental. My best games were played with little to no “thinking” involved on a course I know well. And most were played alone. I’ve had some good games against people too, but when others are around I am guilty of not playing my game and either showing off or trying to keep up too hard.

    I got to play The Claw this week in full for the first time. I was stopped on the 6th hole last time when a tropical storm decided to blow in and dump enough water on my head to drown a whale.

    And of course my score wasn’t under 80. New courses always get me. This time I started just fine and hit a couple of shots that impressed even me. But once we moved to holes I hadn’t played before, I struggled a bit. And this course meanders which just made it harder. Things like hitting the ball great but having it go too far and end up lost in the woods or behind some huge tree you couldn’t see around the bend don’t make it easy to stay in the right frame of mind. And my ball striking ends up suffering.

    I don’t have the mental game Tiger once had for sure or any other part for that matter. But I don’t let that keep me from enjoying the challenge.

    Liked by 1 person

      • Well it was hard for me that day. But I don’t think I would consider it a tough course. At 6300 yards, it’s within my sweet zone from the men’s tee. The real issue is just the first time or two around you simply can’t see what you need to know to make the right decisions on some of the holes and I was a bit too aggressive for my own good while playing blind.

        As to when I will go back. I will probably wait until spring. Down here, rates will go down then and the conditions will be better. Winter down here isn’t tough temperature wise, but after suffering through some tough storms in the fall, lots of our courses with smaller budgets have trouble keeping their course in great shape and The Claw seems to be one of those. There are too many bald spots on the fairways right now and spring will fix that.


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