For some reason, non-golfers often get the crazy impression that golf is easy.
Even some seasoned golfers seem to think similarly, as evidenced by their getting so mad when golf gets tough. They think, “This game is so easy, why do I keep messing it up? There is no rhyme nor reason for this!”
Well, the rhyme and the reason are that they have not accepted that golf is a difficult game, thereby setting themselves up for a number of problems:
1. Getting easily frustrated and angry when they fail: “How can I play this lousy, when the game is so easy?”
2. Blaming the clubs, the course and bad luck, rather than their lack of skill: “I know I am good at golf, and the game is so easy, it has to be the wrong clubs, poor course conditions, or bad luck that are holding me back.”
3. Fudging on their handicaps, turning in only low scores in order to look better than they are, at least on paper. They are pretending to be capable when they really aren’t there yet. “I don’t want anyone to know how bad I am at this easy game.”
4. Most importantly, if golf is easy and mainly a matter of luck, then why practice? “Hey, I shouldn’t have to practice, because golf is easy. And, besides, it will do no good to practice, because the whole game is just a matter of luck.”
The benefit of recognizing and accepting the difficulty of golf is that, going forward, you can relax and welcome the challenge, rather than getting all upset and creating tension in your swing and confusion in your head.
You can now start learning from your mistakes and practicing what needs to be practiced. You can also not be afraid to keep an honest handicap that reflects your current honest level of play. A true handicap will help you relax in team competitions and allow you to make an actual contribution to your team’s success.
The happiest outcome of all is that gradual improvement will occur, rather than your game going nowhere as you continue with your anger, frustration, blaming and pretending.
An old friend, with whom I had played golf for years, once told me, “You know, the most important thing I have learned from playing with you is that golf is a difficult game.”
Sadly, I have to assume that he merely witnessed how difficult the game was for ME! As for him, he had always known golf’s difficulty cognitively, but had not ever accepted it emotionally, nor let it change his behavior for the better.
Dr. Tom Dorsel of Hilton Head Island is a sport psychologist and author of “Golf: The Mental Game.” Dorsel.com