If you are a golfer, you have dreamt of playing against the best competition; Tiger Woods, Annika Sörenstam, Jack Nicklaus, Arnold Palmer or Justin Thomas. Coming down the stretch in the US Open or the Open at the Old Course at St. Andrews, needing to make a birdie to win! If you haven’t had this dream, perhaps you have played against them on a quiet night on a course while playing alone, walking the fairways and having the time of your life. Magically, your game was everything you thought it could be. There you were, playing flawless golf. Hmm, how did it happen?
It happened because you were playing out of your mind golf. This is when you do something with little or no internal distraction although there are external distractions. Other people may be around but not in your group, the challenge of the shots you’ve had, the water hazard, the shot around the tree; these distractions will always be present. However, you pulled the shots off because you were able to manage your fear of being judged. Me, you, and all other human beings carry the fear of judgement around with us, allowing it to become larger than the task at hand. Most often in circumstances that we are least experienced in, or have not encountered, we confront fear, anxiety, and self judgement. These distractions keep us from performing at our best during a round of golf or most anything that we are unfamiliar with.
To overcome the fear of judgement, you must be prepared for the task. Just when you have studied for a test in school, you feel confident in your knowledge. There is little fear of failing or being judged as a failure if you do poorly on the test. However, this same fear of failing happens on nearly every shot in golf. If you have not prepared yourself well enough to meet your expectations, you are the only one who may know this, thus the internal distraction of not being prepared starts swirling about. This is why tournament golf and a round at your “regular” course can be so different. If you do not play enough competitive golf to gain experience in different situations, conditions, pressures that result in good outcomes, your fear of judgement can become overwhelming; hindering your abilities to play your best and your enjoyment of the game.
Preparation in practice is challenging your skills/shot making, controlling your golf ball, practicing how to deal with internal and external distractions, as well as understanding the course conditions and its impact on your shots. Doing this is the only way to play the golf game of your dreams. Learning how to breathe under stressful situations can help clear your mind and relax the body enough to allow for better performance. Knowing your skill level and understanding the challenge of golf will help ease the anxiety of failure. In some cases, it may excite you to learn from these situations versus becoming upset and angry; not allowing you to learn to your fullest.
The next time you go out to play or practice golf alone, be aware of your thoughts and of how you judge yourself. Be aware of how simple the game feels in those moments, how focused you are while not trying to be focused, and find where that focus comes from. I bet that golf is but a dream if you do not prepare your skills to match your expectations.
“Playing the game is easy, preparing to play my best night in and night out, doing what it takes to not let myself down, no one will outwork me, no one will be more prepared than me!” KB
Enjoy Your Journey!