Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Giving Up

My guess is that every golfer does it. Whether they admit it, get angry about it or just try too hard, it happens. Look at Ian Poulter over the weekend. He came last at the Crowne Plaza Invitational at Colonial Championships with 73 and 76 to finish. That gave him a total of 7 over, three behind the guy in second-to-last place, and 28 shots behind the winner, Zach Johnson. You can’t tell me that going down the last few holes, his head wasn’t screaming ‘get me off this damn course’.

Giving up is so easy to do when things aren’t going right. You play the opening holes and throw in bogeys, doubles, trebles and worse and you know it’s not going to be your day. The head drops, the swing tightens and things go from bad to worse. My solution was always to hit the ball harder and harder. Who cared where the ball went? The trouble was, it just compounded things. You’ve tried looking for a golf ball in six foot high gorse when there’s steaming coming out of your ears, right!

It’s taken me a long time – 20 something years – to realise that giving up is pointless. If you don’t agree with me, the next time you go out and you feel like giving up – don’t. Consider this: you’ve probably parred every hole you have yet to play. You can do so again. And if you can get your game back on track, there is no sweeter feeling than walking off the 18th having recovered from an abysmal start.

As an example, I played with a friend of mine in a strokes competition a few weeks back. He plays off 8. He was doing OK – nothing spectacular – when we reached the 4th: he put a ball in the gorse and had to reload. He birdied the hole with his second ball for a bogey. He then did exactly the same on the next. Despite two fine saves, his swing was getting faster and he was muttering that it was ‘the end of my round’. I turned to him on the 6th tee and said that he had parred every hole from here on in so he could do it again. The 6th at Greystones (see photo) is a terror for an out of control tee shot and he lashed it into the gorse again, this time running up a seven. The dark clouds descended and he gave up. By the time we reached the 10th he was 11 over. He stopped caring, but at least he relaxed. And he played the back 9 in level par. As he walked off the 18th, with a smile on his face, he said: ‘if only I could go back to the 6th tee and start over.’

Giving up defeats nobody but yourself. You can let it drag you down or you can use it to fire you up. The latter is infinitely more rewarding. I just hope I remember these wise words of wisdom the next time I return to that dark place.

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