First published on the Golf Monthly website on Thursday 19th May 2011
My cliché du jour is, “Rome wasn’t built in a day.”
Yesterday I decided that I needed to write more about my golf in order to understand my game and therefore play better. Well, I’m still in the very early, beginning to understand, phase. The playing better bit will just have to wait. I’m treating yesterday’s Medal as a learning experience – a stepping-stone towards my ultimate goal.
My key problem at the moment is that my mental game is as fragile as a trampoline made of rotten sticks and crepe paper. I started promisingly yesterday with two regulation pars before I took a three-putt bogey on the third in my stride. At least, I thought I took it in my stride. I didn’t cry out in anguish as the ball lipped out or hurl my putter up a tree. But I must admit that, internally, I was still cursing myself as I drove from the fourth tee. Not concentrating properly on the shot I produced a power fade that kicked right from the fairway and headed for a copse of trees. When I got there to find my ball totally stymied I was mentally ruined.
That’s not good is it? I was only one-over-par, with almost the whole round still to go, and I’d totally written myself off. I hacked it out back to the short grass, blasted one down to the edge of the green, fluffed a chip on, banged the putt up to the edge of the cup and tapped in for a six. I then stormed up to the fifth tee, belted one thoughtlessly down the right, didn’t check my yardage before creaming my approach through the green and failing to get up and down – four over through five and contemplating walking off. Things didn’t get much better after that and a nett 73 meant I was up by 0.1, again.
I’ve just spotted Bob Rotella’s “The Golfer’s Mind” on my bookcase. A quick flick through the key chapters confirms it – I don’t currently have a “Golfer’s Mind.”
“Don’t let the ball control your mind,” he says. “The essence of golf is reacting well to the game’s inevitable mistakes and misfortunes.” Oh dear. Do I “love” my game? Oh my lord no. OK I’m reading this thing cover to cover right now.