I have a few sayings that my clients will hear so many times that they’ll start to roll their eyes and predict them in some conversations. One of those sayings is, “feelings aren’t facts”. So while I am a huge proponent of acknowledging, validating, and being in our feelings, it’s also important to discern when to move those aside to focus on what the facts tell us. 

Being out on the golf course is one place where feelings should never override facts. 

Have you ever said, “I feel like I just can’t putt today?” Well, guess what – feelings aren’t facts. 

How about, “I feel like I should have been able to make that”. Is that aligned with the facts?

Let’s look at some facts today and figure out how to construct our golf thinking around them in a way that will help, rather than hinder, our game. 

According to golf.com, Pros hit the fairway 65% of the time. They hit 31% of their par 4 or 5 tee shots into the rough or sand. Weekend golfers hit the fairway 49% of the time and hit a tee shot into the rough or sand 31% of the time, regardless of par. According to PGA’s shot tracker, pro’s will sink 99% of putts from 3 feet or less, 69% of 6 foot putts, 54% of 8 foot putts, and 31% of 10-15 foot putts. 

Sit back and let that sink in a bit. I know I’m pretty guilty of being pretty shitty to myself when a ball doesn’t go where I want it to. And in my experience, every golfer I have worked with knows what the data says but expects that they will be the outlier. 

Now, I’m not implying that you just go swinging clubs expecting to suck. I want you to set the bar high. Nothing says you can’t be in that 49% of fairway hits. Certainly you could be in that small percent of weekend golfers who nails that 12 foot putt. What I am encouraging you to do is slow down a little bit. When a shot doesn’t go your way, pause and assess the feelings versus the facts. Remember, “feeling” that something should have happened doesn’t mean it was “factually” likely. Plan to make the putt but be able to regroup if you miss and understand that it’s reasonable and ok to have missed. Heck, there was a 51% chance you’d miss that fairway! Give yourself 5 seconds to think about what you might have done differently and then move along. Using the data to your advantage allows you to stay logical, stick with a solid game plan, and reduce risky or sloppy play!

Dr. Chelsi Day

Dr. Day is a licensed clinical psychologist. She is an Ohio native who completed her Bachelor's degrees in Psychology and Health and Sport Studies at Miami University in Oxford, Ohio while competing on the Varsity Swimming and Diving team as a diver. She then went on to earn a Master's degree in Sport and Exercise Psychology from the Chicago School of Professional Psychology followed by a Master's degree and later a Doctoral degree in Clinical Psychology from Antioch University New England in Keene, NH.