We’ve all heard the old saying “golf sucks, I hate it.” Heard it? Who are we kidding? Most of us have said it mid-round. I bet the sticks feel this way almost as often as the hacks.
How is it that one of the most played sports in the world sucks so bad some days you wonder? Well, let’s break it down and talk about ways to overcome the suckiest parts of the wonderful game.
Some days a long walk (ok – or ride) around the golf course is a great way to clear your mind. Enjoy nature, good company, and competitive relaxation. Other days, a long walk around the course is nothing but time to stew, obsess, and get riled up. Lost a ball? Sure, spend the next three holes wondering where it went, how it got there, what you did wrong, why you suck, and on and on and on. With so much downtime between shots, golf can be a prime space for too much thinking.
You book a tee time for the weekend. You’re feeling great; looking forward to getting out there and swinging some clubs and showing that course who’s the boss. Then you wake up. It’s nine thousand degrees out or 47 and raining. But damnit, you’re going to get out there and play. You’re dripping sweat or watching the clubs shake in your shivering hands. But you’re turning toward home and you’re too deep now. Good luck hitting the ball effectively with all of those distracting thoughts about how miserable you are.
Golf is HARD. Wise men have said that it takes 10,000 hours to master a new skill. That’s great and all. But those first 9,999 can suuuuuck. Watching the sticks out there just putting balls where they want to when they want to can drive a hack crazy. And for the sticks, even at hour 11,000, the ball doesn’t always do what you tell it to do. What gives?
Why are there so many options? Why is it so confusing? Even sticks struggle with how many tools (yeah, we caught that on episode 6, Mike – it’s 14 clubs). I’m sure to many sticks it’s closer to second nature to know which club to grab for which shot. But in my work with high-level golfers, even they struggle to decide sometimes. That’s what caddies are for, right? For us hacks, it’s an almost impossible task to decide which club will get the ball somewhere near where we want to go. And don’t even get me started on the peripheral tools! Yardage scopes, swing trainers, portable swing caddies…it’s a lot. Think about running – put on your shoes, go outside, and run. But we’ve chosen golf where you lug around a big bag of wood, metal, and more and hope you can figure out what to use when.
Yes, much of golf is about skill. But there’s always a component of luck. You can’t control the wind or the ground. You can make really good guesses about how they are going to respond and try to hit the ball accordingly. But in the game of golf, you have to accept that luck plays a role. We love to feel like we are in control, so the recognition that we control less than we think we do? Well, that sucks.
So now what?…
Let’s accept that golf sucks. But guess what? Things can be two things! So here are some tips on how to make the suckiness of golf beautiful, wonderful, and fun!
Embrace the suck. When things get hard, it’s important to remember that it’s a normal part of the game. If you expect to kill every shot, you’ll be sorely disappointed and really upset. Expect that there will be bad shots and know that frustration is normal, then move on to the next shot. Don’t allow your mind to spiral. Yep, that shot sucked, let’s move on and try to figure out how to recover.
Prepare for the mistakes. And no, I don’t mean go out and practice hitting trash shots. But plan for what you will do if you make a mistake. I sometimes call this a reset routine. Do you need to take a few deep breaths or recite a positive phrase? Do you need to do a somersault and then twirl on one toe? It doesn’t matter what that routine is, it just needs to be an action that helps you move your thoughts past the mistake and onto the next shot.
Goals vs. expectations. Understand the difference between what you’d like to do and what you can reasonably expect to do. Your goal may be to hit the fairway 75% of the time. But you’d be a crazy person if you set that as your expectation. It’s higher than the pros. It doesn’t mean you can’t hope to do it, but let’s be real with ourselves.
Control the controllable. This could be a post of its own (and probably someday will be). You can’t control a lot of things. So slow down and focus on what you can control in the given moment. Make smart decisions and hope that luck is in your favor. Grumbling about the wind or how fast the green is will get you nowhere. Accept what you can’t control and get out there and get it done.
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