Dealing with a disappointing day

Golf is a great sport but it can also test our character and emotions to the limit.

Despite being the number one qualifier, I lost my first round match in this year’s Club Championship on the weekend.

I’ve been asked all week to explain what happened. This is not an easy thing to do and I’m not entirely convinced this self examination is all that beneficial. Over analysing can get to the point of “storytelling” to justify poor play and I don’t think that helps that much. I believe it’s best to move on and keep trucking as normal.

After a few days reflection these are my thoughts on what happened and what I can learn from this disappointing day, hopefully you’ll pick up a few pointers for dealing with those days where things just don’t go right.

My Opponent Played Well

First and foremost I can’t take anything away from Steve. He played really well and hit some quality shots when it really mattered. Despite being the underdog, he played with confidence under difficult conditions. The further the match went the better he played. He didn’t get tight and controlling – his swing and putting stroke remained free from tension, allowing him to play some great golf.

You can’t control your opponent and if he plays well you’re going to have your hands full – no matter what your handicap or ranking.

Lack of Preparation

If I’m totally honest my preparation was poor. I didn’t check the date for the first round – believing it was a week later I felt rushed and under prepared. Compounding my lack of organisation was attending a function the night before that got me home late before an important round. Not a good start.

Getting frustrated

I got frustrated during the middle of the game. Standing in the middle of the 9th fairway I looked like going 2up. For some reason the green keeper was still rolling the green. By the time he finished there was a build up on the tee – I rushed my shot (didn’t commit or follow routine) and made a poor swing. Steve recovered well from a poor drive and won the hole. This was a big turning point in the match.

I was feeling frustrated and my mind was spinning, “why were they rolling greens in the middle of the Club Champs?” and “Surely the could finish the front nine greens before the back nine?”. I was making excuses for not playing a good shot and my mind was not on the job. Master players are able to handle any obstacles that get thrown at them. Obviously I still have a long way to go in this matter – but I’ll keep working at it.

Playing too aggressively

I was one down playing 14. Despite a few mistakes and some poor play I was right in the match, with a good finish I was certain I could close out the game. But I made a bad mistake – I went for the par 5 14th green when it really was not the shot. I missed the shot slightly and paid for my overconfidence dearly.

Sometimes a conservative game plan is the right thing to do. The easier shot places less stress on your system and it still allows you to shoot good scores. In this situation (being 1 down with fives holes to play) I probably would have been better to lay up and make certain of a par five. The resulting loss was too great to make up on the closing holes.

Not trusting the process and playing safe

This probably hurts the most. I didn’t follow the automatic system fully. Being brutally honest, my swing and mindset was off slightly as I didn’t fully let go and trust my automatic game. I played safe and let some fear and the situation dictate how I played. I don’t know why this happened but I’ll make sure it doesn’t happen too often.

All up it was a bad day. A few errors at the wrong time didn’t help the situation. I’m trying to see the positives though. I’ve been on a dream run for the last year and I’m using this experience to motivate myself to achieve more. More than that it has reinforced the magic of playing automatically – there’s no comparison to a free flowing and natural game to one that is tight, fearfull and controlling. It’s a continual process of learning and discovering and one reason why golf is a great game.

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6 Comments

  • Richard Soady

    Reply Reply October 18, 2008

    Getting Frustrated…for me equals getting Distracted with a Capital D.
    In the case or your match it was the cutting of the greens at a time that was unexpected and apparently caused you to get a bit off balance or move off automatic.
    Distraction is my number 1 enemy to playing good golf. Example
    Just as I am about to make your stroke a member of the group starts to move his cart. Or perhaps an insect appears and rests on my ball. Whatever.. I think you need a plan to deal with this stuff.
    At least I know about the effects of distraction on me and I try to deal with it. It’s hard.
    Thanks to you my mental approach is better than before and I am doing better in competition.

  • Cameron Strachan

    Reply Reply October 19, 2008

    Hi Richard,

    Thanks for your email.

    I think that learning to avoid distractions is a continual work in process. I’ve enjoyed some success over the last few years – I don’t think my swing has changed it’s just that I can relax and play the right shot at the right time. I’m better able to deal with distractions and don’t get effected as much.

    But I’m far from perfect. I still have a long way to go.

    My advice is to stick to the automatic process and keep swinging freely. It gets easier over time.

    Further.

    I think Tiger is the best at coping with distractions and not letting things get in his way. He has plenty of talent but he does more with it than what anyone ever could.

    Let me know of your progress.

    Cameron

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