This is going to be a good news/bad news article. I am going to inspire you, and discourage you! But I think I will help you uncover something about golf that might help you understand the game better.
The Bad News
I am a bad news first kind of guy, so I will start with that.
That new swing thought you’re all excited about. The one that has you hitting your driver straight as an arrow. Unfortunately, that’s going to disappear. I can’t tell you exactly when, but your unwavering confidence off the tee is going to fall apart. It’s going to leave you frustrated, and looking for answers that might not be easy to find.
This is all because nothing is forever in golf.
I can’t tell you how many times I have figured out something in my game that lead to amazing results on the golf course, and I was on top of the world. I felt that I had it figured out forever, and I could cross it off my list of things to work on. Then all of a sudden I would hit one bad shot that planted a seed of doubt. “I haven’t been blocking my drives all summer long.”
Then maybe a week or two later the bad miss started returning again with more frequency. All of a sudden my swing thought was gone, and my confidence was shattered. I was back to square one.
I know this has happened to all of you reading this because it’s just an unfortunate reality of golf. We figure things out, they work for a while, and then they disappear.
I believe this occurs for two reasons.
- Golf is a disproportionally mental game. When we believe in something it often leads to success on the course, even if we can’t understand why we have this supreme confidence. When this confidence goes away, so do the good shots.
- The golf swing is an extremely complicated movement, and requires so many things to go right with our body in order to hit the ball squarely at impact. Small changes in our swing can disrupt this balance, and we don’t completely understand why, or how they happen.
All of a sudden you might start bringing the clubhead a little more closed on your backswing, and you begin to pull shots to the left when that wasn’t a problem for quite some time. You can’t feel it, but you know it’s there. It is one of the harshest realities of golf.
I don’t want to discourage you from believing that parts of your game can improve forever, they can. I have remedied some major deficiencies in my game on a somewhat permanent basis.
For example, I used to have some very erratic tee shots that would ruin rounds for me. Through club selection, and figuring a few things out in my swing, I have partially eliminated these major blunders.
That’s not to say they are gone forever. I still hit drives out of bounds, and into the water, just not as many as before.
So while the news is bad, it’s not completely a lost cause. Just be realistic with the fact that one week you feel very comfortable with your pitch shots, and then all of a sudden you can’t hit one to save your life 3 weeks later.
The Good News
Now to the good news. Because nothing is forever in golf, you can also rest assured that if things aren’t going well for you, there is hope.
This too shall pass. The darkest hour is before dawn...
You get it.
There are times when we feel completely lost with our swings, and nothing seems to go right on the course. Being discouraged in golf can bring you to some real lows, and those depths are much deeper than the height of our peaks.
This might sound a bit nutty, but I’ve had some of the worst moments of my life on a golf course. Playing my worst golf hits me in a deep place. I guess you can say the game means a lot to me. Or you could say I need to lighten up a little bit (I’m trying).
I’ve seen a lot of other players stuck in ruts like these. They’re on the range conversing with their buddies, telling their stories of woe to anyone who will listen.
“I just don’t get it Barry, I literally can’t hit the ball anymore."
Relax friend. It’s only temporary, but only if you believe it is. When we get into these deep ruts we start to think to ourselves, “will I ever play well again? Have I lost it forever?” We are staring into the golfing void, feeling ourselves edge over the cliff.
The answer almost all of the time is… you’ll be fine.
My father always told me it’s hard to smell the roses in the middle of a sh*t storm. This crude, but insightful saying rings quite true in golf. Since golf is such a mental game, our belief in ourselves can be the biggest stumbling block to recovery. If we get too down on ourselves, then we might lose the desire to keep working at it.
That is when ruts can become permanent, and people will consider quitting the game altogether. Don’t do it!!! You can come back to the light!!!
Keep it Steady
Now that I have taken you to the highs and lows, and shown you that nothing is permanent in golf, I want to discuss something that has worked for me.
One of my biggest struggles as a golfer, and probably in my own personal life is that I am a bit…how do I say this, emotional. When things were going well for me on the course, maybe I got a little too conceited and expected the good times to keep rolling. Conversely, if things weren’t going my way I would get too down on myself.
This behavior would occur over a lengthy period of time, or even within an actual round. I’d be on cloud nine on holes 1-6, then down in the dumps on 7-12. Then all of a sudden 13-18 would be a rebirth.
What I’m trying to say is that by its nature golf is an erratic game, and things will constantly be changing. How we react to this will largely determine how well we play.
These days I am trying to steady the ship a bit, and it’s hard to do. If I make a birdie or two, or knock down a few pins, I’m not puffing up my chest as much. If I make a double bogey I am trying not to sulk as much either.
In terms of my overall game, I’m trying to be patient with my results. If I am hitting my driver well maybe I will take it out of the bag more on the course. However, if all of a sudden I can’t control it, I will lean more on my safety clubs off the tee, and try to work out the kinks on the range if possible.
I guess what I’m trying to say is that we just have to roll with the punches in this crazy game. Try to remind yourself that nothing is forever. Without sounding too preachy, try to be humble with your successes, and don’t get too down on yourself with your failures. The sooner you accept that, the happier golfer you will be (maybe in life too??).