Do you ever get wrapped around the axle when making a poor golf shot? You know what it feels like to go from calm to extreme frustration to grudged acceptance of the result; I sure do. Lately, I have found that my emotions have played a more controlling influence in my game and I think it is time to dial back the reactions. I know many golfers wonder how this is possible and I think that there are a few things that can be done to temper reactions to poor golf shots, but it does take an awareness that the potential for a strong reaction is always just under the surface of your mental game.
I have several techniques that help me remain calm when poor golf shots happen. The first is acceptance. Lets be realistic, I will make unintended shots that will cost me strokes. I work at my game to prevent these mistakes, but everyone makes them and I am not immune. I know this that what I do next is critical to keeping a big number off my scorecard, however acceptance that this will happen is the first step to better golf.
My next approach to remaining calm is managing my expectations. Let’s face it, I will never be a professional golfer. Nor will be the type of player to will shoot a personal best every time out. I understand my limitations and know that if I truly want to be a better player, I will have to commit more time to practice. At this time, I am not willing to invest more time in my game, therefore I need to manage my expectations of how well I will score when I hit the links. This does not mean that I do not expect to play well or have a chance to shoot low, but knowing how much I practice, maintaining a calm demeanour when poor shots happen is rooted in managing my expectations.
Remaining calm does not mean that I do not sense a bit of frustration from shooting a no double trouble. Or if I three putt twice in a round. Or if I duff an easy approach shot. No, what it means is that I do not let my emotions rule my next shot and perhaps the shot after that. An emotional roller coaster is expected when playing golf, but the trick is to clip the valleys of despair and embrace the euphoria of hitting a great shot. It is important to emotionally experience any round of golf and focusing on being grateful is a great place to start.
Lastly, yet just as important, I need to stay in the moment. Each golf shot offers its own unique set of influencers that require a clear and focused mind to solve. Yes, some shots are much easier than others, but generally if I hit a poor shot my next shot is not as straight forward as one hopes. Therefore having a mindset of being present helps solve the challenges of what might come. Clearing my mind of any minor frustration and accepting that the past shot is in the past helps me focus on making the right shot in the present.
On a side note, today I am playing with hickory sticks. I joined the group from last year who come to Osprey Links and demo older technology and they have invited me back this year. Remembering what it was like last year, I will hit some poor shots, but like last year I will take them in stride and enjoy the day. More to follow on this outing.
Accepting poor golf shots is as important as relishing the great ones. This acceptance is very good for our overall mental approach to playing golf and should lower your golf score. Regardless of the score, you will enjoy your time on the links more than if you walk around frustrated and angry. The choice is ours and I choose acceptance; what do you choose?
I am a grateful golfer! See you on the links!