What Game Are You Really Playing?

What game are you really playing?

As strange as it may sound, if you are like most golfers, you don’t play golf when you’re playing golf. Instead, you’re most likely playing “My self-worth is determined by my score.” The object of the game of golf is simple: get the ball in the hole in as few shots as possible. Nowhere does it say we have to tie our self-worth to how well we play. Yet, if you go to any driving range, practice facility, or golf course it will be riddled with golfers more concerned about how their score is a reflection of themselves rather than how to get the ball in the hole in as few shots as possible.

The Pressure of Performance

Many golfers, whether amateurs or professionals, feel an immense pressure to perform well. This pressure often stems from an internalized belief that their value as a person is directly linked to their performance on the golf course. This mindset can lead to anxiety, frustration, and ultimately, a decline in performance. Instead of focusing on the process and enjoying the game, golfers become fixated on the outcome.

The Impact on Enjoyment

When golf becomes a measure of self-worth, the joy of the game can quickly dissipate. The sport, which should be a source of relaxation and enjoyment, turns into a source of stress and disappointment. Golfers might start to avoid playing altogether or become overly critical of themselves after each round. This negative cycle can be detrimental not only to their game but also to their overall well-being.

Shifting Your Mindset

To truly enjoy golf and improve performance, it’s crucial to shift your mindset. Here are a few strategies to help:

  • Focus on the Process: Concentrate on the aspects of the game you can control, such as your swing, stance, and strategy. Appreciate the small victories, like a well-executed shot or a good decision.
  • Set Realistic Goals: Instead of aiming for perfection, set achievable and incremental goals. Celebrate progress, no matter how small.
  • Practice Mindfulness: Stay present and engaged in each shot. Mindfulness can help reduce anxiety and improve focus.
  • Separate Self-Worth from Performance: Remind yourself that your value as a person is not determined by your golf score. Enjoy the game for what it is—a game.

The Role of Coaches and Mentors

Coaches and mentors can play a significant role in helping golfers develop a healthier relationship with the game. By emphasizing the importance of mental resilience, strategic thinking, and the joy of playing, they can guide golfers towards a more balanced approach. Encouraging players to view mistakes as learning opportunities rather than failures can foster a growth mindset.


In the end, the true game of golf is not just about getting the ball in the hole; it’s about the journey, the challenges, and the personal growth that comes with it. By detaching self-worth from performance, golfers can rediscover the joy and fulfillment that the game has to offer. So the next time you step onto the course, ask yourself: What game are you really playing? Focus on the process, enjoy the experience, and let go of the need for perfection. Your scorecard might surprise you in more ways than one.

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