As I watched Chesson Hadley putt off the green on the 17th hole at the Waste Management Pheonix Open, I fought the urge to crawl up in a ball, lay in the corner and babble endlessly about nothing. We have all had bad holes and I can certainly relate to Hadley’s unfortunate results of turning a potential eagle into a double bogey! Unfortunately for amateurs, our damage would be in the four or five over, not just a double bogey.
Here is what happened to add more bad karma to Hadley’s crushing finish to his first round.
I can certainly relate to Hadley’s situation. I have putted of the green over the years, but never into a water hazard. However my ball has found the sand trap, 20 yards down the fairway, deep rough, and the spokes of my playing partners cart. A poor stroke on the green is not uncommon for amateurs, but putting off the green into a water hazard is a little more rare.
Unfortunately, Hadley’s demise during the first round started on the 14th hole. Sitting five under he was in the hunt for tournament leader. With 1 eagle, 4 birdies and 1 bogey, Hadley was cruising. Then suddenly the wheels fell off and were run over by a tank. This happens quite regularly to us amateurs, but how a player responds is the mark of their playing character!
As an amateur lowers their handicap, the frequency between a blow up hole or holes lengthens. In my case, I generally have a blow up hole about every four rounds or so. To me a blow up hole is a triple bogey or more (rarely is it more). I am not overly concerned about the poor hole, but I am extremely interested on how I respond to my mishap.
After a poor hole, it my response is all centered on my mental focus. How I mentally discard the previous action is key to bouncing back. In my case, I use self talk to remind myself that I am a good player and the last hole was only a minor speed bump.
The my real challenge or downfall occurs when I stop believing I can birdie every hole or sink every putt. My positive self talk prevents me from doubting my abilities and following a path to despair.
By remaining positive and focused on ‘what we can do instead of what you can’t‘ is the real mark of a great player. It is more challenging for amateurs, but is the cornerstone to great golf. I am sure Chesson Hadley would tell us the same thing.
Do you have a way to fight the can’ts in golf?
I am a grateful golfer! See you on the links!