The Height of Hubris

Refusing to accept a situation has the potential to be devastating. In golf, this is more real than in most sports. Refusing to “take your medicine” after a poor shot is a perfect example. Hubris negatively affects a golfer’s ability to think and remain focused on the big picture. The greatest example of this is from the movie ‘Tin Cup’, where Roy McAvoy hit 4 balls into the water just to prove he could hit the ball on the green with a three wood. In this case he went from tied for the lead to 10th place at the fictional US Open.

Conversely, a touch of hubris is very important. Self-confidence is very important to a golfer. It allows them to think or see unique shots that most other players do not. Then have the willingness to try the shot. For example, Jordan Spieth’s shot from the practice range on the 13th hole at The Open last weekend; or Bubba Watson’s crazy recover shot during the 2012 Masters; or Phil Mickelson’s famous pine straw shot during the 2010 Masters are all examples of when a little bit of hubris is helpful.

There is a fine line between confident and hubris. Most golfers I talk to play down their abilities to a point where they seem to be humble, but border on timidity regarding their game. Golf is a fickle sport where on shot turns a great round into a mediocre round and another poor shot results in frustration. I actually think that overly downplaying our ability is not good for your golf game. I opens the door for the dreaded “can’t” to creep its way into your mind.

Having a touch of hubris is good for your golf game. Regardless of your skill level, every golfer can do something well. Whether it is chipping, putting, or driving the long ball, take pride in that skill and when asked, openly say that you are good at that skill. This ‘glass half-full’ will have residual influences on your game by opening your mind to the positive side of your golf game.

As a 5 handicapper, I am asked often how my game is going. I tell people that it is going well and that for the most part things are coming together. If pressed a bit more, I will highlight my game from 150 yards in because I believe that is the strongest part of my game. After hitting a few balls, the same person may suggest I hit the ball very well off the tee. I respond by saying that I am normally straight, but not that long. Unfortunately, I am out driving this person by 20-30 yards. I further have to explain that my view is all relative to my overall game. However, at no time during this conversation do I say that any part of my game ‘sucks’. I do struggle from time to time, but my little bit of hubris reinforces positive thoughts about my golf game as I continue to move forward to reach my 2017 goals.

Do you have a bit of hubris about your golf game?

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

Written by Jim Burton from The Grateful Golfer blog

6 thoughts on “The Height of Hubris

  1. Fully agree about not to down play your own game. As a high handicapper, when I occasionally hit a well executed very low percentage or difficult shot and it works out, I tell myself “that’s exactly what I intended to do”! This builds my confidence. If playing with my wife, she will exclaim “what a fluke!” This destroys my confidence!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Jim, love this post because it calls out the importance of perspective.

    My dad is 89 and no longer plays. 20 years ago we used to play together and he rarely could break 90. He had a habit of complimenting a lot of my bad shots because they were better than he could hit but not to my standards. It was getting in my head and I had to ask him not to say anything after I played a shot.

    Fast forward to last summer and I was out playing and dad came along just to ride in the cart and tend the pins. Dad has taken to watching a lot of PGA Tour golf on TV and all of a sudden, he’s telling me how bad my shots were 🙂 I wasn’t really concentrating and was just enjoying his company, and yes, I was playing bad, but his perspective had changed. I laughed and thought how refreshing that was.



    Liked by 1 person

    • Brian,

      What an awesome story! It is funny how your Dad sees the game now. Perspective is every thing and it does change ones reality. Thanks for sharing and I am glad to hear you are. Relishing the time with your Dad, it is so very important!


      Liked by 1 person

  3. You might have a point there. I tend to always reply to that question with “oh, it’s ok” or “oh, it’s coming I think”. I should probably be more positive. Then again, that wouldn’t get me any strokes from anyone. So maybe I’ll just try and make sure I think positive and keep my standard answer for those I might want to make a bet with the next time we are out.


    • Kevin

      Are you a shark? Haha! Thinking and feeling like your game is great is really the key. Most people believe what they say and this has a tendency to hurt their game a bit. Let me know if your positive reinforcing helps your game.



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