‘To find a man’s true character, play golf with him.’ – PG Wodehouse
PG Wodehouse is one of my favourite authors and is responsible for the well known Jeeves series. I like this quote because so many people I play with reveal so many underlying traits in their characters when playing golf. The most common traits that are exposed are anger and frustration. If this is you on the golf course and you can control these traits in everyday life, then control them on the golf course. The other hidden trait that is a game wrecker is fear. What are we afraid of? If I had a solid answer to this and how to conquer fear golfers would be after it like Indian Jones. However, all I can say is try playing without fear and see the results. You will find that in certain situations it’s easier to be fearless than in others, but the more we work on this in all situations like in competition and friendly matches the freer you will feel and your true character will shine through.
“The problem is not the problem. Your attitude to the problem is the problem. Do you understand?” -Jack Sparrow
I got this quote from the Danish golf coach Andreas Kali who works with the Danish junior team. I use it whenever kids start moaning about schoolwork or a task they have to complete that they don’t like.
What I like about it, is that it’s by a fictional character that kids can relate to. This makes it fun and breaks the ice of the general complaint. Its impact is that it makes you look at the problems you face and take responsibility for them. It also makes you contemplate your attitude when faced with adversity.
In golf, a good practice is to reflect on your good and bad rounds. Make a note of your mental state when you have good and bad patches. Look for patterns from when you perform well. You will find your attitude dictates patterns in your performance. Acknowledging that your attitude can be a key and working as hard on this as your golf swing could be the golden ticket for you!
‘The more I practise the luckier I get.’ – Gary Player
This one I’m sure was full of irony from Player. For me, it means working hard. Practice harder than your opponents. All good players play a lot. they put in the reps. A hard worker will often outshine a pure talent and a pure talent won’t shine if they don’t work hard. On the flip side of this is working hard and working smart. Bashing balls aimlessly will no doubt improve you as a golfer, but doing it with feedback and tracking progression will shorten the learning curve.
“Don’t worry about the score! It’s not the important thing.” Chivas Irons.
This quote is from Michael Murphy’s Golf in the Kingdom and it’s probably one of the hardest things to do.
We all know the feeling of starting well, thinking you’re going to have your best round ever, tightening up, having a few bad holes, losing it, giving up, and then playing well again.
If you notice this pattern then you might find you are focused on your score. The process is king. First, you have to have a process for each shot to follow. This could be a pre-shot routine, or a swing thought. Whatever it is, it needs to be consistent and you need to commit to it. Chopping and changing how we play shots throughout the round tends to produce choppy and changeable results. Create and practice a process that you can repeat on the course. A pre-shot routine is a comfort blanket that you can crawl under for the entire round.
Think about the shot at hand, stay present. Thinking score puts you in the future or in the past. Neither place exists in reality.
‘The most important shot in golf is the next one.’ – Ben Hogan
This quote compliments everything said above. We must learn to play golf shots, not focus on golf swings. Each golf shot is an individual opportunity to pull off a great shot.
Try this. Next time you miss a green, on your walk up to the ball, tell yourself you are really looking forward to this chip shot. Start to visualise it going in or landing stiff next to the pin. Don’t regress into analytics about why you just missed the green. Don’t beat yourself up about the mistake you just made. Just look forward to the next shot. This will give you the best opportunity for success and a good attitude. This is playing golf.
“Be decisive. A wrong decision is generally less disastrous than indecision.” Bernhard Langer
Commitment to your decisions is vital. How many times have you second-guessed a club decision and ended up suffering strike quality from it? Check your lie, check the wind, check the yardage, and pick a club. Commit to a full swing with 9 iron through to the driver and accept the results. Don’t mess about with knockdowns, hooks or fades in an attempt to control distance and trajectory. The numbers show dispersion goes all over the place when attempting these. Have one shot shape one swing and stick to it. This makes being decisive much easier.
With the wedges, I would suggest having 3 different swing lengths resulting in 3 different distances. I do this using the well-known clock system and having a wedge matrix, which I will explain in my next post.
Hope you enjoyed this instalment from the impact bag and that some of the quotes have impacted your game. Write some down and keep them in your bag and feel the impact.
Mike Parry (Stockholm May 2022)
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