Wednesday, December 7, 2011

It's a mood thing: from 1st tee to 18th green

I don't think there will be that many surprises in today's Irish Independent golf article on Discovering the Secrets of Perfect Happiness (click on the link). As Liam Kelly points out, it's not hard to see that golfers stepping onto the 1st tee are full of optimism at what their round might hold, and yet the majority walk off 18 downhearted, thoroughly fed up, or swearing they'll never play the game again.

It is only the lucky few who walk off 18 with a big smile on their face, knowing they've got a chance at a prize, or just happy to know their handicap will be cut.

And yet even then there's that feeling that you probably 'left a few shots out there.' Take Rory's win at the weekend. He won by 2 shots and was as happy as could be, yet I'm sure he carried a weight thinking about those short birdie putts he missed early in the round... and if he'd lost by a shot, how he would have cursed them. Fortunately he didn't need to worry, but you and I have both been there when we've missed a two or three footer early on, or failed to get out of a bunker, and then played great golf only to miss the prize by a single shot/point...

... do we focus on the great bunker shots, the drained 20 footers, the fade around the trees? No! We fret over that missed putt because of what might have been. That's golfers all over. What might have been. And what should be relaxation and fun turns into personal torment as we sit in our cars and head home in a grumpy mood, dwelling on one bad shot instead of the dozen or so good shots... or, if you're damn lucky, the brilliant shot that should stay in your head for years but doesn't because negative always overcomes positive.

At least that's my experience.

Psychology is not my strong point, but I know that I am a negative golfer, and I empathise strongly with what the article is about. I always arrive optimistic - 'today's the day' sort of thing - and nearly always walk off feeling down-hearted or even depressed. I guess because it's such a solitary game (i.e. it's all about you and not those around you) it's too easy to have expectations that are too high.

Why not try arriving on the 1st in a thoroughly depressed mood, anticipating a round of 8 points? Surely then things can only improve. The only problem is, you probably wouldn't bother getting out of bed.

It's a good article. Go. Read. Be positive.

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