How did I do?

First published on the Golf Monthly website on Thursday 5th August 2010

In yesterday’s midweek medal I completed a comeback to rival that of Stuart Appleby in last week’s Greenbrier Classic. The Australian shot a final round of 59 to come from seven behind Jeff Overton at the start of play to win by one. I recovered from five-over-par through four holes to muster 37 stableford points, maintain my handicap and finish in a creditable tied seventh position. OK, it’s not quite comparable.

Never mind, I was proud of myself for grinding out a reasonable score after a woeful start. It’s one of the toughest challenges in golf – To keep fighting when it seems to be pointless. It’s all too easy to just give up and say, “Oh well, I guess it’s not my day.”

If you watch tour players, it’s incredible how often they’re able to salvage rounds that looked to have gone west. I guess it’s a question of self-belief and disbelief. The great players have total confidence in themselves and simply refuse to accept being over par. They can find a way to recoup their losses.

Take Phil Mickelson as perhaps the best example of this. I’ve watched him play poor rounds where he’s seemingly never out of a water hazard and is throwing away shots like confetti. But, in between those semi-disasters, he chucks in a few birdies and the odd eagle and, low and behold, he’s putting out on the 18th green for a 71.

I think all amateurs would benefit massively by not giving up on rounds too soon. I wonder how many 0.1s are lost each week across the UK by players who throw the towel in at the first sign of crisis?

This morning I had a little check on howdidido.co.uk to look at how many rounds I’ve chucked away this season. I know, it’s a bad idea to dredge up these past miseries, but I couldn’t stop myself. Anyway – I can attribute at least 0.5 added to my handicap in 2010 by giving up on rounds – making no effort to recover after poor starts.

Howdidido.co.uk provides a great record of your achievements but it also delivers a cruel reminder of your failures. I’ve just trawled down the list of all my results at Banchory since 2005 and am feeling lower than a mole’s kneecap. The fact you can drill down into each scorecard and see where it all went wrong is akin to self-harm.

I’ve just been forced to recall the duff I hit into the burn on the 12th hole in the last round of the 2006 Club Championships, the slice out of bounds on the 14th that ultimately cost by 0.1 in the Summer Cup of 2007 and the incorrectly marked card I signed for that led to my disqualification from the opening medal of this year.

I was going to end this piece with the quote famously attributed to Robert the Bruce – “If at first you don’t succeed try, try again.” But, after my depressing visit to howdidido, I think one from Homer Simpson might be more appropriate – “If you don’t try, you can’t fail.”

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