How many times have you seen someone berating themselves on the course after a poor shot? It happens all the time, whether it’s yourself or your playing partner. The words “way to slice it in the water you idiot” or “leave another putt short you chicken” are heard echoing down the fairways. We’ve all been there at one time or another, but why do we do it? And what effect does it have on our game?
I recently heard four words that have completely changed my perspective on how I react on the course when things don’t go as planned. Be your own caddy. We pace off our own yardages, check the wind direction, select a club, and choose our alignment all in an effort to give us the best chance to hit the next shot as we desire. Yet when it comes to our post-shot routine, we can be pretty hard on ourselves and negative self talk so often comes spewing out when the shot falls short of our expectation. We usually don’t think about the negative effects this has on our next shot, and maybe even shots after that, because we’re so caught up in the result of the one we just hit. We’ve already decided that this hole or round is not going as planned. When was the last time you saw a professional caddie say to his player “you idiot, that’s not where you want to hit it, now you’re probably going to make bogey or worse”. Probably never. A caddie finds the positives and quickly moves on and starts to think about how to play the next shot the best way possible. He’ll say “that’s okay mate, you can get this up and down”.
Our emotional attachment to the round and our score often clouds our rational thinking. A caddy, although still invested, isn’t quite as emotionally invested as the player which allows him to think more strategically and rationally and move on to the next shot with a clearer head. Can we as players achieve this emotional detachment during the course of a round? It’s certainly worth a shot. Next time you play, be your own caddy and try detach yourself emotionally from the results of each shot. Say something positive to yourself and embrace the challenge of the upcoming shot wherever it may be.
I’m not suggesting to bottle up all emotion or not care, but be positive, enthusiastic and encouraging like someone who was caddying for you might be. Be your biggest fan instead of your own worst enemy out there. Embrace the challenge of the upcoming shot, whether it was after a bad bounce into a bunker after a good swing or a piped drive down the fairway. The golf course owes us nothing. Each shot is a unique challenge and embracing that challenge with a clear head each and every time will make the game more fun and lower your score.