Golf is a game that I have played for over 50 years and have taught for more than four decades to all levels, including national champions, athletes of various levels, and people who want to have some fun.
One common theme that I have noticed about the sport is the negative comments many golfers tend to make about themselves.
"That shot was not bad."
"I didn't hit that one solid."
"I picked the wrong club."
"I don't want to hit too many practice shots because I do not want to use up all my good shots."
"I got lucky."
Understandably, it is a natural self-defense mechanism in any new learning situation to acknowledge our self-doubts and inexperience by stating the obvious. But, unfortunately, while common, it is self-defeating. And golfers are harder on themselves than anyone else ever would be! For example, the famous golfer and better-known golf commentator, Johnny Miller, known for his candid negative comments, would never offer some remarks that I have heard golfers state about their own shots.
There is an old golf saying, "Don't let your mouth ruin a good shot." Regardless of how the shot turned out, we tend to diminish the results and ourselves because the shot was not how we had hoped. We feel the need to express to our golfing buddies that we recognize that the shot we just hit was not as expected, but by some dumb luck, it ended up near the hole.
The definition of a good golf shot: One that ends up near your target. Period.
Every golfer needs to remember that regardless of your ability, this is a game where miss-hits occur on a very consistent basis. We should not dwell on the fact that the shot may have been miss hit but on the results. Another famous saying in golf is, "There is no section of a scorecard that asks 'how'. Just 'how many'?"
My point: You must be kind to yourself and embrace multiple facts about this game:
- No matter how good you become, you will always miss-hit shots.
- By constantly stating the negative, you become less confident in your ability to hit a shot you want.
- Embrace shots that turn out in your favor. Do not diminish them.
- Our most significant obstacle to having more fun and improving in this game is dealing with our expectations.
So next time before you remark about how bad your golf shot was –think about how do you want to be seen in the eyes of those playing with you? Do you want to be seen as the grumpy, negative golfer? Or the golfer that is positive and having a great time on the golf course?
After a particularly exasperating round of golf in my early years as a golf professional, another professional asked me. "Do you still get to go home and have dinner with your wife? Will your kids not hug you because of your score today? Will you go hungry because you made a double bogey on the last hole? No? Then go home, have dinner, hug your kids and start working tomorrow on the shots you do not like."