We are constantly working towards improvement in most things we do, whether that’s in school, work, or golf. Failure is often overlooked when it comes to taking a test or giving a presentation to your boss, for example. We have been conditioned to see these setbacks as areas of improvement opposed to failures. Why is this same logic not applied in golf?
Missing a shot or having a bad score in a round is viewed harshly. Golfers are conditioned by teachers or instructors that it is not okay to miss a shot or have a bad round. When that happens, it’s time to come in and ‘get it fixed’. This does not make sense!
Golf, like academics, is something that takes time to build the basic knowledge and skills in order to succeed at it. Success for each of us is different. Innately, we all want to belong to a tribe or group. Feeling as though you are not worthy of playing with a group or on a certain junior golf tour is scary. This puts the pressure on to do better immediately, to skip steps of development, to overestimate your knowledge or skills, and underestimate the challenges of the game. I have asked hundreds of juniors and adult golfers over the years, “What do you like to do outside of golf?” Many will say they enjoy playing video games, which I then proceed to ask, “Do you win the game every time you play?” The usual and immediate answer is “No, it’s too hard and it takes a while to build up the necessary skills or knowledge to get to the highest level.” The game is hard and takes time to improve – that sounds like golf! If we acknowledge that golf is hard, that it takes many nuggets of knowledge about the game, and different variables contribute to developing skills, why do you think a one-hour session will fix you?
Instead, if you thought about it like studying for a final exam or preparing for a big presentation, wouldn’t it become less stressful? There would be less anxiety around what the next shot will look like, or what your next score will be because there is an understanding that it is all part of the journey.
Golf is a challenging game and is a great parallel to life. You can hit a great drive on a hole only to have it take a bad bounce and end up out of bounds, or hit a “terrible” shot to the green and it rolls up and goes in the hole. There are many challenges to the game of golf, like in life. When we put this into the right perspective, we will have a better chance of playing better and living better. Think of your previous experiences in golf, good or bad, as “studying.” It may help you be less anxious about the result, allowing you to be present for your next shot. Having the understanding that these are challenges that life throws at us will make you better for having the experience.
Enjoy Your Journey!