Nothing can suck the fun out of a round of golf faster than allowing your ego to rule your game. And there are lots of big egos in golf according to the Bleacher Report. Determining whether or not you are an ego-junkie starts by taking a hard look at the reasons why you play the game. The healthy-minded golfer pursues skill development, social engagement, exercise, and the adventure of the game. Those who base “fun” on outcomes, score, handicap and trophies are more than likely engaged in the sport to fuel their ego. Unfortunately, those types of successes are few and far between, leaving a lot of room for bruised egos, emotional highs and lows, disappointing play, and lowered self-confidence.
Sure, there’s a buzz when you knock the cover off the ball, or sink a difficult putt for eagle. Those are memories you want to hold on to. Moments of greatness lead to the desire to be great. Just don’t let your great experiences blow your ego out of proportion and negatively inflate your expectations. Setting your expectations beyond reach will leave you feeling defeated when you continually miss the mark. That being said, you do need to stretch your game through consistent development of your mental and physical skills. This can be accomplished by setting attainable and measurable goals, so you can experience and track your progress.
Ego-junkie litmus test
To determine which side of the line you are on, simply think about how you define winning — do you base it on how well you focused, controlled your emotions, stayed confident over the ball and stuck to your game plan shot by shot? Or do you feel like a loser or get really angry every time you don’t score below par, play a bogie-free round, or take the title of club champion? If you fall into the second group, you are allowing your ego to call the shots.
A second indicator is the choice of tees from which you play. The healthy-minded golfer will play from a distance that fits within his current skill set. The ego-charged player will push the limits and struggle to play from tees that are typically beyond his consistent ball-striking distance. Think about how often you are you trying to “kill the ball” on the course. At elite competitive levels, distance is a factor, but certainly not at the sacrifice of consistent, controlled shots. Gorilla Golf makes a great point that “golf courses are there to test all elements of your golf game, not just how far you can hit a driver. Part of that challenge is the mental capability to realize what is the right shot at the right time. Learning to select that, and not give in to your desperate golfing ego, will help you become a better player overnight.”
If you have ego-junkie tendencies, you will see the greatest improvement in your golf game when you decide to let go of your white-knuckled grip on the score. Being outcome-focused in golf inhibits your ability to play to your potential. Click To Tweet See if you fall into any of the categories below –
1 – You are focused on something over which you don’t have direct control. The only chance you have of scoring well is to play each shot with precision, one at a time. Great golf is a culmination of your best performances every time you strike the ball. Putting energy into trying to change or influence the things you can’t only leads to frustration.
2 – Your mind is centered in the future, making it impossible to bring your “A” game on the shot in the moment. Catch yourself every time you think about your score, or how you can (or need to) shoot a birdie on the next hole. Those are big red flag indicators that “Elvis has left the building” and your attention is not centered on the present. All you do by drifting ahead is add unnecessary stress to the moment. You have to do the work in the moment to have any chance of reaching your goals in the future. There is no way around that.
3 – You aren’t playing within your game. When your thinking is driven by ego, you tend to play stupid golf — meaning you take chances you shouldn’t, play with clubs you don’t trust, and take shots you don’t really believe you can make. All for the sake of trying to make something happen, rather than playing from a place of relaxed confidence and allowing your game to unfold. Pushing shots rarely has a good outcome. When your thoughts are focused on making an outcome happen, rather than trusting in your ability and playing smart golf, you are allowing yourself to be led by fear. A great tip from Chad Hersman is to rename your clubs to keep your thinking realistic when making club choices on the course. “Instead of having a 5-iron or an 8-iron in your bag, you should now refer to your clubs as, “this is my 160 yard club” or “this is my 130 yard club”. When it is time to make a club selection, being honest with yourself and knowing how far you consistently hit each club will make you a better golfer.”
Did any of the descriptions above sound remotely or directly familiar? If yes, then I challenge you to take some time this week to redefine what it means to win. Only those who can roll with the punches, and enjoy the process of the game are the ones who have a chance of reaching their true potential. You don’t want to be in the habit of chasing the game. Play with the right mindset and you will be able to create it instead. If you have specific questions about your game, I would be happy to talk to you. Call me at 239-431-6810 and let’s discuss how we can move your game forward.
This is a huge challenge for me. Somehow, my self worth has become in part tied to how I golf. I am trying hard to become more process oriented, but fear of embarrassment really dogs me. I guess I just need to keep working.on it, but it is tough.
Jim, You just need to swap other people’s opinions of your game for your own. When you choose to only care what you think there’s no chance of being embarrassed. 🙂 Your opinion is the only that matters anyway because you’re the only one who can play your game.