Don't Worry, Be Happy - The Key to Realizing Your Potential on the Golf Course
Updated: Thu 8/9/2012 9:07 pm
For a society that is so forgiving to others when they make a mistake we sure are hard on ourselves. Unfortunately we take the way we treat ourselves to an extreme, too often to the detriment of future performance.
In Rory McIlroy's short professional career, he's already experienced the lowest of lows when he butchered a lead you couldn't lose on the back nine at the Masters. He's also experienced the exhilaration of dominating a major championship field at the U.S. Open at Congressional. Now, he's mired in a slump drawing the attention of everyone in the golfing world. It's the life of a professional golfer who is considered to be potentially one of the game's greatest.
During last week's World Golf Championship event at Firestone, McIlroy worked with short game guru Dave Stockton. In casual conversation as they were working on McIlroy's putting posture and alignment, Stockton may have offered the best advice McIlroy will get from any instructor. "I told him he needed to smile more," said Stockton. "Physically, he's really good, and he's
comfortable on the greens. He's not thinking too many mechanical
thoughts. But I told him I wanted him to go out and enjoy it and keep a
more even demeanor. The players out here are too good to give shots away
by getting down on yourself. This is supposed to be fun."
I suspect your weekend golf group isn't much different than mine. A combination of has been and wannabe's comprise our group. Several players have experienced some relatively high levels of competitive success on the golf course. Others took up the game later in life and have relied on their athleticism to evolve into a reasonably good player. A common thread among all of the players is their attitude on the golf course dramatically impacts how good they will be week in and week out. Ultimately, it's this attitude that will either enable them to improve or be the barrier limiting their ability to consistently score better.
Let's see if this scenario registers with you. Your tee time is 7:30am and your playing partner pulls in the parking lot at 7:15. He scampers over to the driving range, grabs his Driver and 7-iron and hits 10 balls at most. As the Starter is calling your group to the tee, he rushes over to the putting green to get a few quick rolls of the ball. Hitting last off the tee because he's still getting situated for the day, he proceeds to push his tee shot 30 yards off line. He's already pressing. If he hits his tee shot on the 2nd hole poorly, now he's senses a trend of not getting off the tee well.
Or how about this example. You are faced with a difficult par 3, playing 190 yards downhill with wind impacting your shot. A lateral hazard is just left of the green and a bunker protects the right side. The hole location is tucked towards the back of the green, leaving maybe 8 yards past the hole location before you are off the green. Your playing partner, who is a 6 handicap, hits a shot that starts in the middle of the green and fades into the right bunker. After lacing a few profanities directed at himself, he doesn't get up and down and makes bogey. For some reason, he believes he's so good that he should never miss a shot from 190 yards. C'mon man, you don't practice enough to expect to hit every green in regulation and especially when you are dealing with a downhill, wind out of the left shot from 190 yards. You just aren't that good.....so relax. Maybe if you treated yourself better after you missed the green, you'd be in a better mind set to grind out the par.
Give this a try the next time you hit the links. Don't measure yourself after every shot. Quit judging every swing and just find your ball and hit it again to the best of your ability. Then do it again. As Dave Stockton instructed Rory McIlroy, smile more and have a good time. Golf is a challenge, it's you against the golf course. So quit taking the golf course's side and ganging up on yourself. At the end of the day, reflect back on the good shots and bad ones. I suspect you'll find yourself trending towards more good results by merely improving your attitude.