If You Don’t Make Mistakes, You Are Not Trying

Over my 40+ years of playing golf, I have made a ton of mistakes. I have tried so many swing fixes that I have forgotten most of them. Interestingly, some of my efforts have paid off because my handicap and gross scores continue to improve. The last five years has been tough because cause of life events and my journey to be a scratch golfer has slowed. Regardless of the roller coaster I sometimes ride, I keep making mistakes that help guide me to eventual success. Making mistakes is all part of the learning process!

During my many years in the military, exercising our processes was the backbone of our ability to perform under the most trying of conditions. I remember many of the senior officers debriefing our performance and one boss sticks out more than the rest because he always said that if we were not making mistakes during the exercise, we were not trying hard enough. His view was that playing it safe all the time did not help us prepare when things got difficult. But, if we found something that did not work, then not to repeat it in the future. If we found something that made the process better, then hold on to it until a better process came along. He felt that if we were not making mistakes, the training was wasted. His view has stuck with me to this day and I apply it to my golf game and my life’s journey.

Now back to golf; I think it is important to push the envelope and try new strokes from every position and situation on the golf course. I bet you are wondering how this happens, well I actually have a process and it is very simple.

First, I play golf; lots of golf! As I loop around the course, I end up in situations that perplex my game. So, I study it so that I can replicate off the course, practice those shots, become confident with the shot, and consider it as a new weapon in my bag. I have followed this process for years and considered a cornerstone of my learning process. Believe me, I have more failed attempts than successful ones, but eventually I find a process that works and my game is better for it.

I have a short example that might help.

This shot was not the first time that I attempted it. In this particular case I was successful. It was not always that way. I was in the situation many times over the years and the first time I encountered this situation, I failed miserably. Actually, until I practice this shot many, many times, my success rate was very low. Now, I feel I have a better than average chance to being successful. It was because I practiced this difficult shot, I am now able to confidently step up and try.

I believe that if we want to be better players, we need to make mistakes off the course, in the practice area. I need to try different things to solve challenging shots I will encounter on the course. Once I find an answer, I keep it until I believe it is time to refine the shot. Regardless, my process of making mistakes to improve my golf game is something I will continue use for many years to come.

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


6 thoughts on “If You Don’t Make Mistakes, You Are Not Trying

  1. If I didn’t make mistakes I’d have no need to practice. I’d just sit back and enjoy the accolades I got from our adoring fans. lol

    But since I live in the real world, it’s practice, practice, practice. And at the end of the day take stock and realize you didn’t practice enough.


  2. Jim, totally agree that the practice area is the place for experimentation, not the course. Even then, the temptation to surf the internet for “solutions” and then try them, requires a bit of a filter. That filter is best imparted with professional instruction. I constantly practice what my pro teaches me and impart little tweaks from time to time for the experimentation. By the time you hit the course, you need to be committed.

    Thanks for the reminders!



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