Do You Learn From Your Golfing Mistakes?

It is a challenge to measure the number of mistakes I make in a round. This might seem like a crazy statement, yet how do we actually tally the number of actually mistakes are made in a round. Do we include poorly hit shots that turn out okay? Do we only focus on the poor results? Does chipping 6 feet from the pin from just off the green count? You can see that developing a checklist of possibilities for the quality golf shots is virtually impossible. Yet, I still learn from my perceived mistakes in hopes that it improves my golf game.

I think that Ben Hogan hit the nail on the head for learning from our mistakes. He demonstrated that only his opinion counted when judging his golf game. And this is definitely the approach to all players need to take because comparing ourselves to others only leads to frustration and confusion.

One think I do not use to establish if I made any mistakes during a round is my score. If I shoot 6 over par (which I would consider to be a poor round) does not mean I made 6 mistakes during the round. I might have made only 4 or perhaps 10 mistakes. My final score is a benchmark for many things, but how many mistakes I made is not one.

I guess the next local set of questions is what I consider a mistake and if I learn from them? That is a great question! First, I would focus my efforts on course management. Am I selecting the proper club for a specific shot? Am a choosing the proper shot path? Am I using the right club off the tee to set up my next shot? I the list does go on, but I think you get my drift. When I hit the ball well that results in a poor outcome, I know I have made a course management mistake. This, I file this error away in hopes that the next time I am in this situation, I choose a different and better golf shot.

I do make some swing mistakes from time to time. I think I understand my limitations fairly well and as such, I when I make a mistake on a shot I can readily identify it. For instance, the relationship between ball position and ball flight. Using a gap wedge in the wrong position results in too high of a shot or too low. Of course, I do experiment on the practice range, but during a round, if I mistakenly set up incorrectly, I know from contact that I made a mistake. Another file for the data bank.

One last example is reading the course conditions incorrectly. I know that I must make different contact when the conditions are wet versus dry. When the grass is longer vice shorter. Hitting into the wind or with the wind. All these factors will influence what shot I am planning to make next. Like all amateurs, I choose the wrong shot and hence I am rewarded with a poor result. Each time I fail to make the proper swing, I file my mistakes away for future considerations on what shots to play.

An important point about all of my potential mistakes is that I am the sole judge as to how well I play a shot. Some of my competitors and playing partners might offer a “good shot” for some of my swings, but internally I feel that I played that shot wrong and could have made a better play. I keep that to myself because the result might have been okay, but not my expectations; they do not need to know my thought processes.

Lastly, when I make a mistake, I own it. I am the one who made the decision to make that shot, thus I am the one to wear it. I learned a long time ago that blaming other things for a poor shot gains me nothing. To be fair I do express my frustration from time to time, but I know that I am solely responsible for my shot and the results. It is the way I get better and become motivated to improve.

Words of wisdom from Lefty. I would suggest that Phil’s comment applies to how we should approach our golf game everyday!

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


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