Make No Mistake

by Michael Riggs, M.Ed.

Tell me if this sounds familiar…

The round is over and you are driving home unconsciously replaying the missed five foot putt for birdie, or the duck hook that found the center of the pond, or the simple chip shot that carried all but eight inches, or…  and, with each painful replay you find yourself shaking your head back and forth, ever so gently, wondering what went wrong.

golf ball in water The truth, first and foremost, is that your concept of the game is wrong.

You believe that golf is a game of hitting perfect drives, chips, and making perfect putts. You believe that deep down inside you is a scratch player that effortlessly moves his ball from point A to point B to point C and gently rolls it into a hole cut in the grass at point D. You believe that you should complete this simple sequence eighteen times with each round followed by a predictable totaling of your card – followed with a cheeky grin.

There is a more fundamental truth, however, that you must grasp if you are to move toward a greater sense of satisfaction within the game and greater success (S²) on the course.

Golf is a game of mistake management. If you look at the best players in the world, from this era and last, including ladies, men, and seniors, you will find that the game is actually a series of off target shots followed by attempts of recovery followed by more off target shots. Sure, an occasional perfect shot magically appears where the ball does exactly what it is supposed to do and lands exactly where it was instructed to go, but the vast majority of golf swings result in error.

Once a player earnestly adopts this simple philosophy, the game changes and the player begins his transformation. His emphasis shifts from destination to route, and from perfection to excellence. He accepts fallibility and embraces the opportunity to play the game.

Now, the ultimate question emerges — How are you going to handle your mistakes? Will you blame and  accuse? Will you become angry and frustrated? Will you quit and desert? Or, will you take the correct road and recognize each shot for what it is and give it another try?

Make no mistake – golf is a game of mistakes.

S² Tip

Consider each shot as an opportunity to prove your ability to recover – a chance to stay calm and focused on making the next shot a perfect one.


Success Story

Congratulations to Celine Boutier of Montrouge, France on her commitment to play for Duke University in the fall of 2012! Celine is currently ranked #6 in the US and plays to a plus 3 handicap.

In Another’s Words…

“Constant effort and frequent mistakes are the stepping stones to genius.”

— Elbert Hubbard, American writer