Happy Valentines Day and our Love-Hate Relationship with Golf

A Happy Valentines Day for earlier in the week to those that celebrated it. Throughout my years playing golf or even during the course of a round my love-hate relationship with the game has been a rollercoaster ride. Golf must be the only game I know that when things are going well we live in fear of it going bad and when things are going bad we face a real reality of throwing our clubs in the lake only to forget our car keys were in the bag.

I’ve been there. After a two and a half year NCAA Division 1 career, I had lost my love of golf. My frustration was so intense that I had to step away. I couldn’t find the flow I found on the football and rugby pitch, where I would be lost for 90 or 80 minutes. Never bothered by winning or losing, just leaving 100% energy and effort out on the pitch. That is the place a golfer has to get. Immersed in play, reacting to each situation and loving the moment.

Valentines Day is supposed to be all about love and the reason most of us play golf is for the love of the game. But like love, this love of the game can come in many different guises. Looking at one’s love-hate relationship with the game can help unveil the underlying obstacles that we often face during low periods of form, or simply during the ups and downs in the course of a single round or hole. When we are feeling love or hate our emotional systems work in very different ways. Finding the optimum way for you to perform could be a key to unlocking the secret of the love of the game

Pia Nilsson and Lynn Marriott explore the neuroscience behind our emotions in their book ‘Be a Player.’ They explain how positive hormones (DHEA) are created when we are happy. And negative or stress hormones (cortisol) are created when we are unhappy. We perform our best and think most clearly when producing happy hormones. When we are sad or angry we produce stress hormones that cloud our judgement and confuse our decision-making process. Below is a quadrant that plots adrenaline against emotions. This is a useful tool for reflecting on where your emotions drifted during a round of golf and what emotional states helped or hindered your performance.

Taken from Be a Player by Pia Nilsson and Lynn Marriott, founders of VISION54

They go on to highlight research on emotions from The University of California-Berkley, stating that DHEA can be created from feelings of gratitude, humour or being in touch with your environment (Nilsson & Marriot 166). So it’s a good idea to have a method for creating DHEA yourself to help snap you out of those moments when cortisol begins to spike.

I like to carry a picture of my wife and kids in the pocket of my trolley. Each time I open my trolley I get a spike of DHEA and gain perspective on the real importance of what missing that 3ft was. I also like to listen to the birds in the trees and look at nature. These are techniques I have developed to stop me from thinking about my score, letting the process run its course and stay level headed throughout the round. Ultimately my enjoyment of the game has increased and so have my scores,

What helps you create DHEA will vary from individual to individual. Do some searching and you’ll be a step closer to finding peace, harmony and love on the golf course. Ultimately you’ll be the one laughing when your friend’s phone goes across the green, or clubs end up in the lake with their car keys in.

Mike Parry

I hope you enjoyed this week’s post and it helps Impact Your game for the good. Please leave a comment, follow and share my page.

Works Cited

Nilsson, Pia, Marriott, Lynn. Be a Player: A Breakthrough Approach to Playing Better on the Golf Course. Atria Books, 2017. 

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