Golf is a rewarding and frustrating pursuit. Moments of greatness followed by periods of mediocrity seems to be a common refrain. This game is a mindset and a process of accepting that success comes in slow intervals. Often we take 3 steps forward and then 2 steps back. It boggles the mind how a person can have a career round one day and then go out the next time and look like a pure beginner having no idea where the ball is going. It’s also amazing to groove a long drive swing and be in the zone during one range session or competition and then be unable to find the grid or lose 75 yards during your next outing.
Instant success is really cool and exciting but success unearned rarely withstands the test of time. There’s no substitute for training and hard work but what really separates the winners from the pretenders is the ability to remain confident even through the rough spots. When a person can expect the next shot to be a great one even after a forgettable one, they are on a path that few have traveled.
It’s been said that the best golfer or champion is the one with the best misses. Nobody is perfect and some are inconsistent at best but when we limit our errors to be less disastrous or costly than our competition, our odds of winning are greatly increased. How many times have you stood over a shot knowing that your b or c effort would be enough to win the hole or advance in a bracket and yet, you play down to and below the minimum level needed? I’ve been in high pressure matches before and watched as my opponent snap hooked a tee shot so far out of bounds that it seemed to end up behind us and then, instead of playing a safe shot or a confident one, I’ve followed them beyond the white stakes like we were playing a game of horse.
Building a golf swing is not only a physical act but a mental one as well. Until you can see the shot, you will never be able to hit the shot. This is why we work on the range and execute when we go to the tee box. Being on the range or playing a practice round is a lot like studying for a test and the long drive grid or golf course is the actual test. In the same way that studying leads to a higher grade, quality practice will lead to a passing grade and higher results with a golf swing.
When I was a kid, there were always a few guys who thought they were the fastest, the toughest or the meanest but along the way, they seemed to always meet their match. There’s nothing quite like watching a kid who firmly believes his name is “Billy Badass” actually running into “Billy Badass”. It’s the same way in golf. It’s easy to feel you’re the king when you’re alone, untested or bragging in front of friends but when you actually go against another with the same or better abilities, you quickly learn where you’re located on the food chain.
There’s also no way to fake a burning desire or dedication to improve. During our last round of golf, one of our guys hit a monstrous tee shot that ended up in an adjoining fairway. As we watched a group approach his ball, he yelled that if that’s a Re/Max Slazenger golf ball, they can just keep it to use. The response was classic. “Slazenger? I don’t have any use for that”. The guy was so focused on being too good to use a non tour ball that he totally missed a chance to hit a ball that has been used by long drivers in a championship arena. Never be too good or conceited to learn from everyone. Some may show you a path to success while others may show you the hazards to avoid.
We live in a very instant society, one where we expect gratification upon demand but reality and history often reveal a very different story. Expecting to be a scratch handicap after playing golf for a short time will lead to heartache and expecting to stand toe to toe with the longest drivers on the planet without putting in the time, effort or sacrifice required is an exercise in futility. Build a game that will last and not pass with the highs and lows of the sport.