I'm not big on regret, and typically don't like to look back on decisions I’ve made. However, in my golfing life I have quite a few things I wish I had done differently. The one thing I wish I could go back and do is stop myself from throwing away so many rounds because I wasn't going to shoot my target score.
In a period of my golfing life, which I will refer to as my "impractical golf” years, I had a TERRIBLE attitude. I didn't have access to a place to practice very often, and would only play maybe 10-15 times a year at most. I was stubborn, and still expected to be shooting lower scores even though I wasn't practicing or playing much.
When I did get out the on the golf course I felt like I could strike the ball the same, but it was obvious I lacked the feel and consistency to play at a level I was accustomed to. At the first sign of the round slipping away I lost my composure, and the round was pretty much a lost cause at that point.
I wasn't enjoying myself, and worst of all, it was making me hate the game.
Now that I am older, and a little bit wiser, I've realized that all of the times I have spent on the golf course are a real privilege. Our adult lives seem to get more complicated as the years go on, and we often have less time to play golf because of other responsibilities. So my plea to you is to seize every round as an opportunity to not only enjoy yourself, but learn something new about your game.
Every round is an opportunity to learn
This is the main thing I wish I could go back and change about my attitude. I now know that every round of golf is an opportunity to learn about your game.
Being a competitive person, my only focus for a long time was solely about the score at the end of the round. A lot of golfers think like this. There is so much more to a round of golf than just the score.
Golf has so many different elements to it, making it both beautiful and challenging. When you’re out on the course and under the gun, you can learn about what parts of the game you need work on. The list can be long and daunting sometimes.
In order to move forward, and become a better golfer, you need to really be paying attention to these things when you are playing a round.
The difference in golfers who are going to improve is that they are making mental notes, and reviewing what went wrong after the round. They go back and really think about the areas they need to improve on, and then work on them in their practice sessions.
The “impractical golfer” will not change course. They are stubborn, and continue to practice the parts of the game that they feel comfortable with, and ignore those areas that are glaring deficiencies. Their scores will not improve, and they never break the cycle.
If your round is toast, try this
Sometimes things just aren’t going to work out no matter what you do. Your first 5-6 holes could be an absolute disaster, and you’re going to have to go on a birdie binge in order to shoot the score you were hoping for.
What I’m going to suggest is a complete mental reboot. Press the reset button on the computer that is your brain. I know this is difficult.
Let’s say you’ve got 12 holes left, or even the back 9. Something that has worked for me is to make a challenge to myself. It could be as simple as saying I’m going to shoot a lower score on the back 9 than I did on the front. Maybe you’ve only got 5 holes left, and you tell yourself you are going to try and make 2 pars.
It could be a challenge on a specific part of the game, like trying to get up and down one more time, or hit 3 more fairways. Try to get creative with it. You never know, you might end up shooting a much better score than you thought on hole 5!
Whatever the case is, don’t spoil the rest of your day. If you can reset your goals for the round, it can shift your attention away from what was going wrong.
Most of us live busy lives, and our time on the course is a real treat. If you can find a way to not spoil that time through these small challenges you will accomplish two things:
1) You will not walk away from the course in a miserable mood and ruin the rest of your day or anyone else's
2) You can achieve this mini-goal, and use that momentum to improve your game