Trying Too Hard At Golf

Are You Trying Too Hard At Golf?

For starters, no other sport or game [your pick] has a playing field so vast, yet a goal of only 4 ¼ inches. It involves many inherent aspects that are out of the golfer’s control. For instance, control of the golf ball is impossible. Even the most sophisticated swing “machines” cannot replicate golf shots to its precise target. What about the absurdity of an ace? A hole-in-one, one of the best shots that can occur, still counts one stroke against your score.

Perfection often occurs during practice. On the practice range, perfection or near perfection occurs often, because the range is a secure place devoid of pressure; however, expectations increase on the course because of that perfection achieved on the range.

These ephemeral episodes of perfection only add to the difficulty and frustration of actual play, because perfection on the course still remains impossible.

The harder one tries in golf, the worse one will usually do. This notion is repeated often throughout the game. When one tries to “muscle” a drive, it usually changes the technical soundness of the swing, resulting in a miss-hit. Pressure moments usually cause us to “try harder” which results in playing too tightly and “holding” onto the shot.

The numbers don’t lie. One of the mental difficulties within the game is posting a bad score. Similar to standing atop a difficult ski slope, there is “no place to hide,” and while the score does not lie, it does not tell the whole story. The posted score does not state that we played great except for one poor hole or that we really battled or that we were just in bad spots for most of the course.

The increasing difficulty when we continually post poor scores is that we inherently know it does not reflect our true performance. As a result of spending a great deal of time within golf, part of our identity becomes a “golfer.” When we play poorly or post a bad score, it is logical that our “self” takes a hit, too.

photo credit: Steven Newton

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Dr. Rob Bell

is a certified sport psychology consultant of The Association of Applied Sport Psychology. He has PGA Tour credentials and has worked with winners on the PGA, Nationwide, Mini-Tours, and Collegiate events. Occasionally caddying on tour as well, he is the author of the book: Mental Toughness Training for Golf. His sport psychology research involves the Yips in Golf and has been published in numerous academic journals. He is the owner of Dr Rob Bell LLC, in Indianapolis.

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