Imagine you’re driving a car, but instead of looking out the front windshield to see where to go, you stare into the rearview mirror worried about what has happened behind you. How do you think things would go? My guess is that it wouldn’t go well and most likely you’d end up crashing. Although the idea of trying to drive a car while looking through the rear view mirror seems absurd, and by no means would you ever teach someone to drive that way, it does provide an excellent analogy for one of the great mental obstacles golfers are constantly confronting; fear of repeating the past.
Like looking into the rear view mirror while driving a car, golfers often focus on what has happened before fearing it will happen again. In a recent conversation I had with one of our juniors, they told me about one of the holes on our home course that always seems to give them trouble. “I hate that hole!”, they said. “Every time I play it, no matter what club I hit, I always chunk it into the water. So, when I came to that hole in the tournament this past weekend, I just knew the same thing was going to happen. Sure enough, I chunked it into the water.” This is a story every golfer can relate to – just because something has happened in the past, we assume it will happen again in the future. This “something” can be a particular hole, an unwanted swing tendency, or even a haunting thought of self-doubt. Regardless of what it is, the problem remains the same. By allowing our fear of what has happened before to determine what will happen in the future, we abandon what is possible, limit our potential, and like looking in the rear view mirror while driving, we will most likely crash.