Also published on the Golf Monthly website
After a couple of seasons playing very mediocre golf, I’m determined that 2012 will bring improved results. I’ve just glanced at howdidido and seen my handicap is the highest it’s been in five years. That simply won’t do. How am I supposed to be happy knowing that? I’m going to have to do something to rectify the situation, but what?
I don’t think I’m technically less proficient than I was three or four years ago when I was regularly firing decent scores. I can still hit the ball a similar distance, strike my irons well and hole some good putts. I don’t think looking at my swing is going to provide the solution.
I reckon the answer lies with psychology. I need to adopt a different mental approach to the one I’ve taken into rounds of competitive golf over the last couple of seasons.
That approach has been:
How quickly is this going to go wrong? At least let me make it through the first few holes without a disaster… Should I hit a driver off the first tee? Probably better not risk it… God, my putting is so bad, when am I going to miss my first tiddler?… Please don’t go out of bounds here… If I can just score a few pars in a row I might make buffer.
Generally I’ll walk off the 18th green considerably more stressed than when I teed off, whether I’ve had a good round or not. That’s just not right. I was skimming through Harvey Penick’s “Little Green Golf Book” this morning and a short story made me stop and think.
It was about a significant women’s amateur tournament in the US where Mr Penick was acting as starter. A girl he knew, and had coached, came to speak to him before the round seeking re-assurance. He talked to her for a while before she said. “Thank you Mr Penick but I have to go play golf now.” He replied, “Wait a minute, you don’t have to go and play golf, you get to go and play golf. There’s a big difference.”
That’s something I, and I’m sure many others reading this, often forget to remember. Golf is supposed to be fun. We do it for fun. We don’t do it to torture ourselves and if that’s how it is then perhaps we shouldn’t do it anymore.
For this season I’m going to try and approach every round, whether it’s the Club Championship or the Monday roll-up, with the same thought: “This is going to be fun!”
Yup, when I’m five off the tee on the sixth with my score already at five-over, I’m going to be internally chanting, “Isn’t this fun? Boy, am I having fun!” … Oh my god. I can’t even write a positive game of golf, let alone play one. For Christmas dad gave me a CD containing subliminal messages to make you a more relaxed, and better, golfer. I think I better give it a listen.
Another thing I can easily work on is my fitness. There’s undoubtedly a correlation between physical fitness and golfing performance. OK, it’s not a sport that demands participants to be at the peak of conditioning but, for me, I know I feel stronger, more stable and just more able to play well, when I’m fit.
I’m currently on a bit of a fitness kick to prepare for a ski holiday at the start of March. I’ve been running, cycling and lifting a few weights – pretty half-hearted if I’m honest, but it’s a start. I’ve read that the key to fitness for golf is strengthening the core muscles – “A stronger core to lower your score.” So, more sit-ups it is then. I’ve just got down on the floor and can currently only manage 10. I clearly need to work on it. Doesn’t Gary Player do something like 1,000 a day? Not sure where he finds the time for that. I’ll aim at 40.
Will I put any of this into practice? Probably not, but I can’t actually put it into practice until I’ve thought about putting it into practice and at least I’ve got that far.