Yesterday I went for a round of golf with a very poor golfer, the kind of golfer you can hardly bare to watch because he or she is so awkward. You know, swings that look like train wrecks. Poor Stacy.
Stacy takes a full backswing no matter what the shot. Even chips! I tried to tell her she might want to shorten her backswing on chips but she didn’t really want the advice. We are both the two newest members of the ladies club. She is undoubtedly the highest handicapper in the club, but bless her heart, she doesn’t care!
Well I wish I could say I played a magnificent round with Stacy. I did not. The one good thing is that I didn’t hit any shots out of bounds. Yay! I also bogeyed four holes in a row which for me is like parring four holes in a row. My course management skills came into play and I think I’m finally learning a few things about this course and the greens, enough so that I can make intelligent decisions about clubs and shots!
What I really want to focus on in this post though is more about the mental side of golf. I play with an intensity and a desire to improve that possibly could turn off other golfers – especially women. In that sense, I play more like a macho man. I want to hit the ball the farthest, hardest, most agressive. I know the terminology, the mechanics, what is supposed to happen and what a proper golf strike looks like. I don’t tell someone “good shot” if they roll up short of the green, top an ugly shot that rolls within a few feet of the pin or leave a long putt six feet short. My ladies club mates tend to say “good shot” when the ball flight goes a ways down the fairway and the shot is reasonably pretty. I tend to say “good contact” or “you had the right idea” but nobody hears a “good shot” emanate from my mouth unless it truly was.
Anyway, this intensity was a bit much for Stacy I think. She was trying to get me visualizing that we had martinis waiting for us followed by swedish massage with handsome Sven and his twin brother. There were few people on the course so she also kept saying we ‘owned’ it. The course was ours – ain’t it grand? The point is she was trying to get me to chill out, to not be so intense, so hard on myself. She told me I expect too much.
Truth be known, I probably expect that I am a better golfer than I really am.
The most important yardage on the golf course is the six inches between your ears.
Bobby Jones & Arnold Palmer
I’ve been reading a lot of mental golf tips lately. One thing I run across over and over is that one should knock off the bad self-talk, the berating yourself for your bad shots. I am possibly the most guilty person of just that. When I play alone and hit a few bad shots in a row, I am a candidate for the suicide hotline. I say horrible, absolutely vile things to myself and even as I am saying them, I know how damaging they are. When I play with other players, I still manage to mutter them under my breath when no one is looking.
My subconscious is defenseless. My poor inner child takes a severe beating. Something more is going on here than just a bad shot!
Again, golf and life intersect.
So that’s what I’m working on: shaking off the bad shots and pressing on. I’ve been reading about how Jack Nicklaus never admitted he shanked it or hit any other kind of bad shot. Even if someone had it on video, he never admitted it. Incredible.
So off my kinder, gentler self will go later today for another nine. I’m going to keep two scores. My actual score and then how many good shots I hit. By “good” I really mean solid contact. I will count any solidly hit shot as “good” as long as it is still a playable lie.
And as for bad shots – what bad shots?