Anger on the Golf Course

By Roseanna Leaton

I was chatting with someone today who is a great golfer but admits to suffering a certain degree of anger issues when the game isn’t going his way. The last time he played, he was one under after 10 holes, which in most amateur golfers books is pretty good. But the wheels came off on the 11th.

His drive whipped off in the wrong direction, which might not have caused as bad an outcome as he allowed it to, had he kept his temper in check. The driver was flung across the course, his bag was hoisted onto his shoulder and off he walked. One hundred yards later he decided that perhaps he should retrieve the errant club after all. He then walked home.

Many golfers are familiar with this type of sorry tale. To feel this intense anger and to allow this enormous sense of frustration to flood your mind and body is not a good feeling. In fact, it is a terrible feeling and stays with you for a long time afterwards.

This unchecked anger completely ruins the game of golf. And so, if you ever thought you might enjoy the game, or if you want to enjoy it in future, it is well worth an attempt to approach these feelings differently.

Emotions like these are actually easy to change. Most of us simply shrug our shoulders and think to ourselves that “this is how I am”. Well, if you want to enjoy this great game, you should ditch that attitude immediately and find a better thought process.

Here is a contrasting golf mind set which you could choose to employ. Another friend emailed me this week detailing her last three holes at Stanford.

She certainly had a dramatic finish. Hole 16 is a par 5. She hit a poor drive, an ok second shot and then hooked her third shot into a tree on the left. She got lucky with where the ball ended up in the rough and now had a beautiful approach shot straight at the pin. Unfortunately, it bounced off the green to the side on the right. She then chipped to the green and sank a 7 foot putt to save bogie. Not bad after two pretty bad shots.

Hole 17 is a par 3. She hit a horrible and very short tee shot, followed by a shot into a bunker. From there she hit out onto the fast and treacherous green, which set her up for an easy putt. Another bogie. On hole number 18, a long par 4, she admits to the fact that she was now pretty fed up with her previous drives and had to pay extra attention!

Her mental strategy paid off and she hit a ridiculously long drive which left only a 150 yard downhill lying approach shot. She choked down her 170 club and hit a beautiful shot straight at the pin. The ball rolled off the second cut of rough at the back, which left a 66 foot shot. Her next putt only went 10 feet. She felt so mad! But she gathered herself together and nailed a 56 foot putt for par. As she says “never say golf is boring”.

I like her style. I like her mindset. She didn’t let the frustration lead to anger; instead she turned it into a challenge. Everybody can make this mental switch happen if they choose to do so.