Download our free ebook
Sign up for the newsletter and receive our free 30-page eBook on course strategy!
Focus on what you can control and accept what you cannot. Some variation on this sentence appears in religious texts, self-help books and social media accounts that contain endless inspirational quotes. It is one of the most clichéd (and essential) concepts there is.
When it comes to golf, control is perhaps one of the most important aspects of the game. Many golfers come to the game and expect the process and results as they can arrange in other parts of their lives. I have witnessed countless people turning calm, confident and thriving outside of the course into a completely different person when they start it. I have indeed fallen victim to this. One of the main reasons for this is that they do not fully understand what they can control in golf and what they cannot. Success in golf is not as clearly explained as elsewhere.
If you can improve in the elements of the game that you can control, and the things that you cannot begin to accept, you will become happier on the course (and probably a better golfer). I know this is now very & # 39; self-helpful & # 39; sounds, but stay with me.
Instead of speaking in general, I want to focus specifically on five specific thoughts that have taken me almost 25 years to find out. I will link to other articles that I have written that further explore these ideas.
What you can arrange
Before you start, there are plenty of things you can do to give yourself the best chance of success. Here are a few that make sense to everyone:
Each of those elements can be further subdivided into different categories, but I regard them as the pillars of preparation over which you have a lot of control. If you completely ignore them, you do not expect improved performance in your game.
Many golfers ask me what they can do to deal with nerves and pressure. Whether it's a tournament, a match with your friends or your typical Sunday round, my advice doesn't change much. I tell most people that they have to commit to every recording, no matter what. Simple advice, but difficult to hold.
I believe that all pre-shot routines must have the following elements:
Analysis : Evaluate your position on the course and think about an optimal target group and club choice.
Commitment : choose a specific goal.
Routine : Go through a repeatable routine as you approach the ball. To me they are two practice swings, an alignment, and then I swing.
If you can develop this kind of routine, stick to it with every shot, no matter how bad or good it goes, you develop one of the best habits a golfer can have.
Most golfers don't think about having a post-shot routine, but how you respond to each shot is sometimes just as important as how you prepare for it. You can exercise a lot of control over this process. That doesn't mean you can't get upset or pump your fist at a party; those are natural immediate responses. I wrote this article a while back, and it explores some wonderful ideas on how to respond to photos from James Sieckmann's book, Your Short Game Solution (it's usually a fantastic book about wedge play).
His general advice is fairly simple – internalize good shots and make your bad shots objective. Most golfers don't give themselves enough credit for good shots, or even realize when they hit one. Conversely, when the bad ones occur, they take it very personally, and the negative feelings seem to drag on throughout the round. Sieckmann's advice is to become the owner of your successes and try to objectively analyze your failures.
Although this is incredibly difficult and you will never be perfect at it, you must do your best to emotionally separate yourself if major mistakes occur. Take a step back and consider whether you could have done something else.
You may have chosen the wrong club and misjudged the wind. Or you have chosen an aggressive target if you focus on the green. Often it is just a regular phenomenon with your technique. Anyway, when the shot is over, this process should not take too long.
My favorite time to do a more in-depth analysis is after the round, while the information is still fresh in my mind.
What you cannot control
The variability of your technique
How often have you been frustrated when you cannot take your ball from the practice t-shirt to the court? Or are you completely demoralized when you have one of your best ball-striking days, and less than 24 hours later, does your swing feel like a mess? You are not alone because this happens to every golfer on the planet .
Variability is perhaps one of the most difficult parts of the game to accept. You cannot determine how your golf swing will perform daily, and it can go crazy.
This is a relative concept, as many things are in golf. All players have what I would call a baseline skill level. Some days they will perform at the bottom of that potential; other days they can reach the upper limits. In general, most rounds will fall somewhere in between. The hardest part for every golfer is to understand what that variability looks like and to accept that it will happen.
By practicing and playing more, it is very possible to increase your basic skills. In other words, your bad days aren't that bad, and your good days are a little better. But no matter what happens, you will experience randomness.
As you know, golf is played outside on different terrains with a small white ball. Your technique and the quality of your swing determine how the ball initially comes off the face. Then you are subject to the rules of the universe.
The weather and the laws of nature seem to constantly torture our souls. The truth is that it is not personal. But that's how it sometimes feels.
I wrote about the time I thought I hit a perfect tee shot on the final hole of Bethpage Black in competition. I thought I made a perfect ride and didn't even see the ball land. What I did not see was a gust of wind that pushed my ball to the edge of the fairway, bounced off a badly placed rake and nestled in a deep fescue that could never be found. Right now I lost my calm, but it was just the universe that did its job.
You can select an optimal target, take the shot exactly as you want, and things still can't work because of a gust of wind or the way the ball bounces off a small hill.
The great philosopher Forrest Gump summarizes it well in this clip:
People often say that you have to control the process and the results will follow. And in essence, that is what I say as the general theme of this article. Along the way, however, many of those results are not what you want them to be, simply because the game is played on uneven ground in the elements. Almost all other sports are played on a consistent field (think of basketball, hockey, soccer, baseball, etc.), and it is one of the reasons why golfers who practice other sports have difficulty managing their expectations. That is part of the beauty and challenge of golf.
Golf is generally so arbitrary because you are influenced by the weather, gravity and many other things about physics that I have forgotten since high school. You drive yourself crazy if you think you can control it.
Striking the Balance
Although there are many other concepts to explore when it comes to what you can control and what you cannot, I consider these & # 39; The Big Five & # 39;
I am not telling you to go there and become perfectly zen with all this advice. It's not me.
What I hope is that one or more of these concepts opened your eyes to something that you thought was true in the game but really wasn't. A small suspicion of a new perspective can have a huge positive influence on your relationship with the game.
No golfer can find a perfect balance of control. But you can get better. For many of you reading this, I assume that you have probably held on too much to what you thought you could control, and releasing a little will do you good. Remember that it is only a game!