You know how powerful an attitude of gratitude can be in life. It can help you see the good in others, find solutions, transition unscathed through challenges, and lift your spirit. To improve your game, it’s just as important to approach it with the same perspective.
There’s no question that the game is tough. But that doesn’t mean you can’t daily experience success. The reason you may be thinking that’s impossible has little to do with your physical skills, and much more to do with your mindset.
Golf can leave you feeling like a failure when your outlook is wrapped up in measuring how far you continually fall fall short of perfection. No matter what level you play, there is success to be found within the ups and downs that make golf the adventure that it is. You just have to commit to doing two things:
Stop minimizing your success
How many times have you hit a good shot, perhaps not a pure shot, and flippantly thought to yourself, “Well, that’s what I was supposed to do.” and missed the opportunity to really celebrate your success? After all, hitting a good shot is what you want to do as many times as you can, right?! Every time you minimize your success as it occurs on the course, you miss the chance to reinforce a process that is worth repeating.
On the flip side, I know that too many golfers don’t miss the chance to beat themselves up for a less than ideal shot EVERY time they hit one, thereby burning that memory into their brain and setting themselves up to likely repeat it in the future.
What you feed your mind tends to become what you produce. I have often said that garbage in is garbage out. Negativity produces poor results, whereas positivity and gratitude lead to the type of mental game that produces more fluid swings, good ball contact, and consistent ball flight. Therefore, your first challenge is to invest more time really appreciating every shot when you accomplish what you set out to do. Be grateful about the shots worth repeating while you are playing and you will increase the probability of hitting more of them as you go.
Start being thankful for the tests
Rather than choosing to feel like you are being beaten up on the course, the best way to improve your game is to welcome the opportunity to be tested by it. Golf is a teacher, and school is in session every time you pick up a club. But just as in school, you don’t often know the answers you need to ace the test BEFORE you’ve had the chance to learn them.
Lessons don’t come to those who are unwilling to be taught. Golfers who choose to respond to difficulty with a victim mentality walk away from a couple of bad holes, or tough round thinking —
- Why is this game so hard?
- When will I finally start to play like I know I can?
- Why aren’t my shots from the range translating to the course where I need them?
Does that sound like you? If yes, it’s not too late to change your response to hardship.
Growth doesn’t occur unless you are faced with an opportunity to test your resilience. Golf provides many of those within a single round. The key is to put your wounded ego aside in order to identify the lesson that is the natural byproduct of a poor shot or bad hole experience. You simply need to train yourself to ask the right questions, for example —
- What did that experience teach me about my course strategy?
- What can I now see about the break of that putt that I didn’t see when I read it?
- How did my Inner Caddy distract me as I was planning that shot?
- How committed was I to that shot before I pulled the trigger?
- What can I learn from hitting a shot with that club into a strong headwind?
And the most important observation is always identifying what you did right.
When you measure your success by tracking the good shots you hit, as well as the lessons you learn from the not so good ones, you will discover the multiple benefits of playing with an attitude of gratitude. Rounds will become more enjoyable, you’ll avoid giving strokes away as the result of negativity, and your scores will improve. The process is simple, but your application of it must be consistent. This is your challenge to start being thankful for ALL the parts of the game. When you train yourself to think great you can PLAY GREAT!