Train Wreck

by Michael Riggs

The most common emotional challenge a golfer must deal with is how to keep from losing his cool following a mishit or a series of poorly played shots.

Much is made of being able to maintain an emotional equilibrium while playing golf.  While emotional outbursts may enhance performance in more aggressive sports, such as football or hockey, becoming emotional while playing golf will almost always result in higher scores.  Maintaining positive and calm emotions during times of crisis is a defined skill of quality players.

The desire to throw a club and begin a self-barrage of insults is very real. The real question is, “How can we effectively deal with anger on the course?”

The perfect golfer does not exist.  Acknowledge, accept, and embrace the fact that you are going to have off shots, off holes, and off rounds.  That is life.  That is golf.  Event the world’s best players are constantly playing out of forests, sand, and roughs.  So, if they make errors, don’t expect perfection each time you head to the course.  Following a mishit, learn to say to yourself, “Whoops.  Reload.”

Realize that becoming angry will only intensify the emotional response.  The catharsis effect – the display of anger will act as a release valve and allow you to get back to calm — is a fallacy.  Sport psychology research has shown that anger usually results in more anger.  And, like a train rolling down a track, your emotions will gain momentum making it impossible to get back under control and will certainly lead to the great train wreck.

Do not abandon your pre-shot routine.  Remember that your pre-shot routine is designed to get you mentally calm and clear for the shot at hand.  Letting anger linger may cause hasty choices resulting in poor shot and club selection and increase the odds of another poor shot.  The past is the past; nothing you can do will change it.  So, leave errors behind you, go through your full routine, take a smooth swing, and trust for the best.

When you become angry and frustrated your muscles will tighten up — causing a tight and stiff swing.  Therefore, it is wise to keep your mind from becoming anger-filled and frustrated so that your body can stay loose and fluid.  A loose and comfortable mind is more likely to translate into a loose and comfortable body.

S² Tip

Realize that anger results in more anger.  So “let it go” and move on to the next shot.

Success Story

The No. 2 Auburn men’s golf team picked up its third win of the season, and eighth under Nick Clinard, after winning the Hootie at Bulls Bay by nine strokes over No. 24 Virginia on Tuesday in Awendaw, S.C. Sophomore Niclas Carlsson won the individual title after carding a 1-under 71 in the third round to finish at 5-under 211. Nice job, Tigers!

In Another’s Words…

“Age wrinkles the body. Quitting wrinkles the soul.” — Douglas MacArthur, General