ANGER IS AN EMOTIONAL GOLF HAZARD

It is almost impossible not to become frustrated on the golf course. Bad shots are part of the game for all golfers. It is important not to let it get you discouraged. What is possible is how you can control your frustration and how you react so it won’t affect your performance.

Judging a shot as good or bad will trigger emotions that go with it. Your subconscious mind will remember emotionally charged situations more than unemotional ones. That is why it is so easy to recall where, when and how you made a hole-in-one. There is much celebration and emotion. In the same way if you keep thinking about a bad shot frustration, it will be easily triggered to repeat by your subconscious mind that stores everything literally.

The secret to anger management is how quickly you can let it go.

When you focus on your mistakes, fear of failing, or keeping your score going, your emotions can control you. It is best to release the anger quickly and then refocus on the next shot. Most champions stay calm in the face of adversity, forget about the mistake, and move on. Use your positive energy to prepare for the next shot instead of analyzing the error, which is now in the past. Reprogram your brain to forget mistakes by putting the situation into a delete file in your computer brain.

In golf it is important to experience the feeling of anger and then release the thought that connects with it as soon as possible so you won’t carry it on to the following holes. Blocking or suppressing the emotion only delays dealing with it. Usually, we get angry because things don’t go our way. We feel afraid that we have lost control of the situation.

When we get angry our muscles tense, blood recedes from our arms and legs, and we lose our sense of “feel.” To counter the effects of anger, inhale slowly and smoothly through your diaphragm and exhale the same way. This way of breathing will calm and soothe your nervous system, reduce your anger and put you back in a focused mindset to perform.

Recovery from mishits

This is the time to be patient and not give up. Golfers know the game can turn around on their next shot. Accept that there are going to be times when you feel that you aren’t in control of your mind and/or golf swing.

When you miss a shot, you have lost your rhythm. Don’t try to analyze what went wrong. While you are playing, it is impossible to determine what technically caused the mishit.

Breathe deeply and slowly to relax. Step aside and make practice swings until you find the tempo you wanted. You probably swung too fast and your body attempted to make up for the lack of proper swing sequence by quick wrist action which then caused topped and fat shots and misalignment of the clubface. Do not think about changing your swing. Before hitting another shot, take practice swings to regain your sequential body movements. Swing slowly until you feel this transfer.

Physically Release the Anger

Learning to manage anger properly is a skill that must be learned. The key is to distract the mind from holding on to the thought that caused the anger.

Frustration is an emotion that results from failure to achieve what you want. It happens to all golfers because none of us is perfect. The difference between pros and amateurs is that the pros’ reaction time is shorter. By the time pros get to the next shot they are completely focused.

Earl Woods told Tiger that any time he got angry on the golf course to imagine there was a 10-yard circular fence surrounding him. Tiger had ten steps in any direction to feel, express, and deal with his anger. When he reached the edge of the imaginary fence on his tenth step, Tiger had to let go of the anger and not let it interfere with the next shot.

When we get angry, our muscles tense, blood recedes from our arms and legs, and we lose our sense of “feel.” Following are some of the physical triggers that world class golfers use to release their anger after missing a shot so they don’t carry their anger forward.

  • Dropping the club at the end of the swing.
  • Forcibly exhaling the breath.
  • Swearing under their breath.
  • Shaking their hands back and forth.
  • Counting to 10.
  • Taking 5 steps forward.
  • Ripping off the golf glove.
  • Smiling.

Unrealistic Expectations Cause Frustration

Frustration on the golf course could be the result of unrealistic expectations of your game. When you set high standards that aren’t readily attainable, you will constantly experience failure and frustration. It is important to acknowledge that you will hit bad shots. Blaming yourself and feeling angry only increases the chances that you will make even more mistakes because you will be on an emotional roller coaster.

You will experience less frustration and be more relaxed if you do not demand perfection from yourself. Don’t make your missed golf shots the central theme of your thoughts. The more you replay your missed shots in your mind, the more you deplete your mental and physical energies to play good shots.

Golf teaches us about many facets of our personality. The mental game of golf is solid when you have thought through your expectations for what you can and can’t control and you remain in the present with positive thoughts and images of what you want to accomplish.

Lower your frustration level strategy   

  • Choose to hit shots that you know you can pull off successfully. Failing to pull off the “miracle shot” can result in frustration.
  • Be realistic about the distance you can hit your clubs and don’t expect to hit the maximum distance every time.
  • Use your missed shots as an opportunity to “bounce back.”
  • Decide that you don’t have to hit every shot perfectly to score low.
  • A round of golf is very seldom all good or all bad. Focus on the good shots that you have made successfully.
  • Know that failure is life’s greatest teacher.
  • Stay patient until things turn around.
  • Have the feeling that golf with all its ups and downs is a fun game to play!

Develop a short-term memory strategy 

The way to regain your confidence and move on with your game is to have Short Term Memory Loss. This means that you can’t remember what just happened. You let go thinking about the mishit and approach the next shot with a clear mind. You do this by developing a strategy for recovering from missed shots. Any negative thought about your last bad shot will affect your next shot if you don’t let it go.

Jack Nicklaus was famous for his Short-Term Memory loss. When asked about a missed shot in a round, he was not able to remember it. 

  • Clear your mind. The bad shot is in the past.
  • Clear your emotions.
  • Clear your body. Release the frustration with a physical trigger.
  • Understand no one can be perfect at the game of golf.
  • Have short term memory for any poor shots.
  • Use your long-term memory to store the good shots. Get excited and praise yourself for every good shot.
  • Instead of trying to “fix” your swing, take practice swings until you regain your tempo so you are ready for the next shot.
  • Take a slow, deep breath and move on with a new mindset.

Golfers who understand the game of golf know they will not always play their best and a round of golf can be full of ups and downs. It is the golfer’s task to minimize errors to the best of their ability, control their arousal level, be diligent in pre-shot preparation, and play one shot at a time. When golfers make this kind of positive thinking a habit, the subconscious mind will operate more efficiently, the game will be more fun and lower scores will result. 

If these golf tips are of value to you and you would like to improve your mental golf game, call Joan for a complimentary 15-minute consultation. She can be reached by phone at 828-707-5478, by email at pmi4@bellsouth.net or through the Positive Mental Imagery website or blog.

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