One of the main reasons I started Practical Golf was so that I could do my part to help all of you enjoy the game more.
I myself have struggled mightily at times with having fun during my rounds, and after almost 20 years it finally hit me over the head that there was no way I could reach my goals as a player if I wasn’t enjoying my time on the course.
Golf is an interesting game because there’s always a score to be judged by. No matter what, when we’re done playing, anyone you come into contact with (whether they are a golfer or not) will ask what you shot. They don’t mention anything about if you enjoyed yourself or not.
This is the exact reason we are all chasing scores out there, and at the first sign of trouble it might signal the end of our fun for the day because we know our target score might be out of reach.
With golf it always seems to be about those numbers on the scorecard at the end.
This is a sad reality of the game. We spend a ton of time and money to be out there, and unfortunately some of that time gets wasted in a funk of negative emotions because that little white ball won’t go where we want it.
Last week I was playing in a team match with a few players at my course. My partner, who is usually not a regular member of our rotation, has a reputation of being less than thrilled most of the time with his play (that’s putting it nicely).
After two shots on the first hole it was clear that he had packed it in for the day. For the next four hours he barely spoke a word to anyone in the group, and trudged through his round without one smile or laugh.
It was a beautiful day out, the sun was shining, but this did nothing to soothe his mood.
I couldn’t help but think to myself, “Why is he even out here?” He probably plays somewhere between 50-75 rounds a year, which is a huge chunk of his free time on weekends. If most of that time is being spent in misery, what’s the point?
This Game Can be More Than Just a Score
Those of you who have been reading this site for a while know that golf means something to me. It’s not just a game; it’s literally part of who I am.
For years I was like this guy in many rounds. I would go out with high hopes, and the second things took a wrong turn, I morphed into a rain cloud. I cursed, lost my temper, was rude to my playing partners, and I’m ashamed to admit it but I also have broken several clubs.
Bad golf also accompanied this terrible attitude, and I had lost sight of why I was playing. My obsession with the score had gone too far.
There is simply no way to improve at this game if you are not having fun. The second I decided to make sure that my time on the course was enjoyable no matter how well or how poorly I played, all of a sudden my scores started dropping.
Make a Pledge
Almost every weekend I send out a message on my Twitter account on Saturday and Sunday mornings to remind everyone to enjoy themselves.
It seems a little corny, but the reason I do it is because I know exactly how everyone is feeling that day. They’ve been at work all week looking forward to their round. They start to fantasize about the day they might have, thinking about if this is the weekend they’re going to break 100, 90, or 80.
That’s a lot of pressure to bring out on the course, and it’s not surprising why so many of us quickly blow a fuse when things start to go south. The collective weight of our expectations gets wrapped up in that score.
Not to get too philosophical, but with the way modern society works these days, we seem to measure everything. Our salaries, how much our cars cost, houses, and all other kinds of material things “separate” ourselves from one another.
So it is not surprising that you and everyone you come in contact with is going to judge the success of your day based on a number.
But it doesn’t have to be that way.
The point of this article is really to give you quite possibly the most important tip of them all.
Make a pledge that no matter what, you are going to try to have fun every time you get out on the course.
For some of you reading this, that might not be a problem. Kudos to you, you’re one step ahead of the rest of us!
For the rest of you, who are like me, and sometimes get a little too fixated on your score rather than your enjoyment, try to hold yourself to this standard. This one simple change to your game can actually lower your scores tremendously (even if it doesn’t, you’ll still be better off).
It’s All Connected
In case you haven’t noticed, golf is a disproportionately mental game. Your mood on the course directly relates to the quality of your shots, and ultimately your score. If you can stay positive, have fun, and not take things too seriously, I guarantee you good things are going to happen for you out there.
I recently had a conversation with Martin Hall from the Golf Channel for an upcoming project for the site. I asked him what was one of the most important traits for a golfer to have, and his response was:
“To be able to laugh at your bad shots.”
It’s a simple statement, but it speaks to the fact that golfers at all levels are going to make terrible mistakes on the course. If you can laugh them off, stay positive, and above all have fun, then you are playing successful golf.
If it’s not fun, why play?