When my good buddy and golf professional Myles Johnson from Spallumcheen Golf and Country Club read my latest post about side bets providing a source of motivation on the golf course, he offered an additional suggestion.
He told me, “Set a low number with a friend, and any time one of you shoots that number the other owes $20, $50, $100, or whatever you’re comfortable with”
He does this with the bag boys at his course. They set their number around 72, and Myles has his number at 64 and it really helps push them.
As of right now Myles sports a +2.3 handicap and recently played in a golfathon to raise money for ALS in which he played 11 rounds in one day and was 28 under par, so he knows how to get it low and keep it low. When I played golf with him regularly my wallet was definitely a bit light.
Initially I was unsure about putting a concrete number in my head, but the more I thought about it the more it started to make sense.
Since you’re setting the score very low (probably around your personal best or lower), it’s not a number you’re going to shoot every round so it shouldn’t change your day to day expectations. The point is to keep yourself thinking about taking it lower than you are, no matter how your round is going or how your partners are playing, as opposed to being satisfied with staying in your comfort zone.
It may also encourage you to think more critically about your course management and strategy for the day to get yourself going low.
Match play with buddies is great, but it could potentially be a trap as well. It’s all fine and dandy to play against a high handicapper, for example, and you’ll certainly be motivated to beat them. However, if your high handicap friend is blowing up and shooting 100 you may not be required to play that well to still take his money no matter how many strokes you’re giving. So if you have an additional motivator you’re less likely to play down to a level that’s just good enough to get the win.
I set my number at 67 (for our home club which is par 70). Beth set her number at 73. I’ll be happy to strike a deal with anyone else who wants to set a low number for themselves.
I played for the first time last night with that number in my head, and from the get go it got me into a good and confident frame of mind where I only thought about what could go right and not what could go wrong.
No matter how things went I just kept thinking about hitting good shots and getting it in play to give myself a chance to get it closer to that number. And even though I shot 79, I felt like I mentally gave myself a chance to shoot a much lower number. Unfortunately my putter went cold and I missed everything, but I made tons of great swings and gave myself a lot of chances to take it lower.
With our vacation match close as well, there was no shortage of motivation. It didn’t produce a very low score, but it kept me in it and I gave myself a chance, which is all you can do. The putts just didn’t fall, but they will another day.
If you find yourself in a mental rut or feeling complacent out there, this might be worth a try to push yourself outside your comfort zone and get into the mentality of taking it low.
What could be better than setting a new personal best? Your friend forking out some extra cash when you do it!
Happy golfing, and go low!