Golf is a game that can drive even the calmest person mad with rage and frustration.
This is one of the beauties of this game, you never know yourself until you start to play it.
Many people who seem calm, that appear to be able to handle any situation life may throw at them will crack under the pressure of a 2 foot putt to win the weekly match between friends. Yet this same person can close a business deal for a million dollar contract.
It is for this reason that so many of the worlds greatest ball strikers never reach the heights of professional golfers, they do not have the nerve to deal with the occasion when the occasion calls for it.
Some will struggle with the dreaded yips, which although often considered a technical fault appearing after years of missed putts, actually creates and is a mental issue. A mental issue that can plague even the greatest golfers in the world.
For others, such as the weekend golfer a bunker can create such fear that they freeze and almost certainly end up in the one place they do not want to be. But why does a bunker create such fear for an amateur golfer? Or why does a certain hole on the golf course always cause such disappointment and anxiousness for a seemingly consistent golfer?
Well for me it all comes down to one little word, a word that can destroy a golfers self belief and confidence, a word that is often referred to when making and planning goals. It is a word that we do not use on a regular basis, but are always trying to live up to.
This word is expectation.
Expectation is the main reason why so many golfers “choke”, why so many struggle to overcome what is seemingly such an easy shot or such a simple hole to play well.
I am going to take the example of the “bogey hole”, sorry for the pun. Almost very single golfer has a hole which causes more than a few problems, and often it is not the hardest hole on the course.
This hole plays on their mind before the round, throughout the round and most definitely after the round. If they are going well, posting a good score they, upon reaching the hole, suddenly freeze, they panic, they believe that now everything they had done well previously will desert them.
And surprise surprise they walk off the green cursing their inability to play the hole the way they believe it should be played, or how they should play it.
So their expectation is negative before they begin, it is already casting a dark shadow over their enjoyment. They are already planning to fail, just so they can meet their expectation of the hole.
The problem with expectation is that everybody has it, they expect to be able to repeat shots, they expect to be able to hole a short putt with consummate ease, they expect to play well.
All these expectations only lead to a build up of excess pressure, stress and ultimately a lack of concentration on the task in hand; playing golf to their true potential.
I believe, and I try to the best of my ability to play without expectations, bar one.
When I can achieve this mindset, I play better, freer golf and my results reflect this. Each shot seems to be more relaxed, easier but above all I enjoy the game more. I achieve what I want from each game, regardless of how I strike the ball and score.
The only expectation that I have going into a round is this; To give 100% to each and every single shot, regardless of the shot, score or feelings that I hold at that precise moment in time.
I do not always achieve this state, but I am certainly achieving it with more regularity. The one thing that I do know for sure is that I am happier with my performances when I finish on the final hole.
This way of thinking has, without doubt been one of the main catalysts to the improvement that I have enjoyed in recent months, even though I rarely play and practice.
Even without being able to practice a lot, dedicating time to playing I have seen my scores drop, regardless of my performance.
Expectation does not help anyone, instead I suggest replacing this word with what you would like to achieve when you play. What would you like to give to your game each time you tee it up.
When you remove expectation, you are left with acceptance. Acceptance is massive, if you can accept that you are not always going to hit the shot you saw in your minds eye, the shot you know you are capable of hitting then you are certainly taking a massive stride to improving your game.
Until Next Time,
The Golf Swing Doctor