Embarrassment and shame are common feelings in golf and in life. These feelings can surface from the need for perfection or the perceived judgment from others. If you don’t release them, they will sabotage your future performances.
The Seagull Lady
The most embarrassing moment in my golf career happened one year when I played in the South Atlantic Women’s Amateur Championship (SALLY) at Oceanside CC in Ormond Beach, Florida. It is the second 72-hole stroke play tournament on the Florida Orange Blossom Circuit held in January in Florida..
The members at Oceanside participate fully in the tournament in a Member-Contestant tournament, by hosting the contestants in their homes and by participating in all the weeklong social festivities. It began in 1926 and continues to field contestants from all over the world. The golf course is adjacent to the Atlantic Ocean where the cold winds in January can be an additional hazard.
I remember teeing off on the 10th hole with my five-wood to keep the ball in play. As I watched, the ball was barely airborne. It was a topped shot that struck a seagull flying low to the ground. I was mortified! The huge gallery surrounding the hole saw what I had done! As I crawled back into the golf cart, I felt so embarrassed and ashamed that I might have killed a seagull. My cart partner didn’t know what to say. I wanted to hide under the cart but had to continue playing. Someone from the pro shop came out and rescued the seagull. I don’t know if it lived or not. I was left with terribly painful feelings.
The word travelled fast about my incident and by the time I finished 18, I was being known and teased as. “the seagull lady.” My embarrassment grew stronger. Shortly after finishing my round, people from the club came up to me and told me their own golf stories about hitting seagulls. The gulls were very prevalent in the area. When I learned I wasn’t the only one to have had this experience, my shameful feelings abated. Even though this occurrence is as clear in my memory now as when it happened, I can laugh when I think of it.
When you miss a shot on the range, are you embarrassed and look around to see if anyone was watching and judging you? Or do you focus on your practice and use the feedback from the shot’s flight without judging yourself?
Shame is a universally felt emotion. It makes us feel bad about ourselves. Men and women tend to react to it differently. Men with low self-esteem who are embarrassed or ashamed tend to act with anger such as throwing a club or pounding a club into the ground. Women tend to hold their feelings inside and berate themselves. Either reaction is distracting us from taking responsibility for our missed shots.
Embarrassment is also a universal human emotion that is common in golf and in life. I think it is safe to say that all golfers have felt some embarrassment from their golf experiences.
Poor alignment will cause offline shots and possible problem situations. When I practiced, I put down an alignment stick so I would be square to the target. This is not possible on the golf course. I didn’t want to point my club at the target for alignment because of a fear of embarrassment looking like a beginner. My fear was caused by misinformation. It wasn’t until I saw the gals on the LPGA tour doing it that I changed my fear thought and gave myself permission to do it also. As a result, my shots became more consistent.
Another example of feeling embarrassed would be hitting a ball in the water on a par 3 or hitting a ball OB and quickly hitting another ball to get away from the feeling of being inept in front of others. The truth is the feeling only matters to you because golfers for the most part only care about their own games.
There are many ways you will be embarrassed, and your self-worth attacked on the golf course. The good news is that you can change your emotion instantly by changing your thoughts. I learned to change embarrassment of missing a shot to an emotion of surprise that my shot didn’t come off as planned. Then I was able to regroup by taking deep breaths to think clearly, calming down, taking a couple of practice swings to regain the tempo that I had intended, and carefully going through my pre-shot routine. To do this required practice in changing the impulse to get out of the embarrassing situation quickly.
Give yourself the freedom to allow
Golf is a metaphor for life. If you are experiencing hurtful/painful feelings on the golf course…
1. Learn how to let situations come and go.
2. Changing your patterns of thought changes your feelings.
3. Learn how to feel your feelings and let them come and go.
4. To hold on to feelings is hurtful and physically damaging.
5. Let the feeling of love for yourself and your game flow.
Whatever you choose, whether it is anger, embarrassment, blame, shame, or guilt, it is a distraction that keeps you from the most powerful emotion of all, Love. Love of the game is where you will find the fun. The negative emotions will hurt you and keep you from your enjoyment of playing.
Play “in the zone” with Joan
Entrain Your Heart & Mind for Peak Performances
To train your brain to believe in positive thoughts and emotions and to play your best golf, you can listen to Positive Mental Imagery self-empowering guided imagery hypnosis CDs in the privacy of your own home. Eight different CDs are available at www.pmi4.com/cart
If you aren’t able to maintain trust and belief in yourself on the golf course, email Joan at email@example.com for a complimentary 15-minute phone consultation about developing a new strategy. Learn what is missing in your golf game so you can achieve the success you desire.
“THE HEART OF GOLF, Access Your Supreme Intelligence for Peak Performances” explores and explains negative emotions such as fear and performance anxiety, the four Cs of mind blockage, the four progressive stages of learning the supreme intelligence of the heart, and the way to access the zone in competition. It is a player’s guide for developing your true inner self by returning to the joy and love of self instead of seeking praise and rewards from the outside world.
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