Golf can be a game of opposites. It’s supposed to be fun, but often we do not make it that way. We are supposed to play the game to relax, but often we get frustrated and mad. If you try hard to succeed, it will often result in disaster. So…let’s turn that around and have some fun and play better.
Did you ever see the movie, Patch Adams, with Robin Williams? It was about a doctor that dressed in clown-like clothing to make his patients feel better about their illnesses. It was about a real doctor. My dad was a long-time doctor, and he had an attitude that if you looked positive on things, it likely helped your illness. He often told the old Hennie Youngman joke…”I gave a guy 6-months to live…he didn’t pay his bill, so I gave him another 6-months.”
Golf can be exactly like that. Take a look at David Duval. He had many outstanding years on tour and was ranked as the top player in the world at one time. But as his game went south, it looked like he was depressed, never smiling, and even wore black most of the time. He looked like Darth Vadar, and played like him.
I would encourage you to just laugh off your bad shots. Don’t dwell on the bad shot because it may cause a problem on the next few holes as well and make things worse for your round overall. If you laugh it off, I suspect you will be more relaxed and not tighten-up your neck muscles or your grip pressures. These are big keys to hitting a proper golf shot.
I have a good friend who stands over the putt too long, thinks about it too much, and you know the result. Quite often he misses the putt and gets mad. When we were kids, he and I would fool around on the practice putting green by lining up the putt, then as you came up to the ball, you would putt it while you were still walking. We made more putts than you would think. We called it the “Barry Shuffle…” It addresses the fact that you can have fun and make putts. Don’t stand over your putts so long thinking too much and you will almost surely make more putts.
Tiger Woods often seems playful when he hits some of those wacky shots from trouble, making very animated follow-throughs. If you think back, he usually pulls those shots off with amazing success. I suspect a lot of this is the result of playing with his friends, and not being afraid to try some wacky shot from the trees. So what if it hits the tree, you get to go hit it again. He likely looks at the result he wants, thinks about the positive result, and then goes at it. If you stand there thinking about all of the bad things that can happen…it will probably go exactly that way.
Many of us have been at meetings or heard talks about the power of positive thinking. Well, that can apply to golf too. So pick your poison. Do you want to be Patch Adams or Darth Vadar? Golf gives you what you take from it, and it can be the most enjoyable game ever if you let it be that way. Or, you can become a miserable curmudgeon that nobody wants to play with and you’ll go home and kiss the dog and kick the wife. You make the right choice and you’ll play better.