In an earlier chapter we talked about the wounded hunter who gets grazed by an arrow and is dealing with his pain but adds on a string of self-criticisms that augments the hunter’s suffering.
Perhaps the golfer and the wounded hunter might want to look at the story as the difference between reacting and responding.
The golfer with a bad shot and lacking mental training may burn up with anger and frustration blaming all sorts of factors on the bad shot rather than focusing on the bad shot and perhaps calmly try and determine what to do to avoid it happening again. The golfer carries on this suffering for the next hole, a few holes and even to the next golf game.
Often it is a case of a reaction that we simply can’t avoid. You are set for scoring an eagle on a par 5. You have had a tremendous drive and a second fairway wood shot that place you 25 yards from the green. You just may make an eagle with a good chip but a birdie for sure. Your chip shot slices into the water and suddenly you are looking at a double bogey. What golfer wouldn’t be upset but if you replay the situation over and over and beating yourself up for the bad shot your reactions are making the situation far worse.
Wouldn’t it be better to strip out these negative reactions that may have been with you for perhaps your entire golfing experience? Or is it better to unhook and disentangling yourself and mentally opening up a space where you can open up and choose how to respond to that horrific shot.
Perhaps admit the shot was a bad one and calmly analyze what happened without a stream of self loathing. Perhaps it was your stance? Was it a wrong club selection? Was it the pressure of going for a possible eagle and an unmissable birdie? Deal with it quickly and walk away with a lesson learnt or simply accept it as a bad shot and move on with a clear mind to the next shot.
What I have said here is not easy. It takes practice and discipline and subject to an occasional collapse but are you on the golf course for a wonderful day or to make yourself suffer?
Golf is a game of crushing defeats, ecstasy and adequate if mundane consistency.