Every golfer needs to be taught bravery

Bravery needs to be taught more. And not to hit driver on every hole or to go for each shot. We need to be brave to stand up and walk our own path – to question the status quo and be prepared to do things our way. We also need the courage to walk our way when we’re under fire – to keep trucking no matter what is thrown at us.

There have been three instances recently where this has never been more true.

Young Golfer

M is a 23 year-old talented golfer. She has been playing since she was “young” and looks to have all the shots. I bumped into her at my club the other day and we had a chat.

“I’m working on my swing”
“I’ve got some swing flaws”
“My swing is not quite right”

The bottom line is she is lacking a little confidence in her own ability. We spent five minutes on the fairway and I got her to hit an array of shots.

Low ones, hook shots, slices and high shots. At first she was hesitant, wondering what all this was about. But M finally relaxed and got into the task.

“this is like being a kid again. I haven’t hit a ball like this for years”.

Brilliant! M stopped thinking swing and started playing the game. But to do this takes some courage – you’ve got to step out of what is considered normal and do what feels right. You’ll question yourself. But this is where the bravery comes into play.

Sidenote: M was worried about some flipping of her hands and mentioned her coach was working with her on this. After 5 minutes of “play” there was no sign of the flipping issue. It’s amazing when you distract yourself with “playing the game” how so many of your faults will disappear.

Lukey needs to stand strong

Lukey has been a longtime reader of my stuff. We’ve had the odd phone conversation and he even dropped in for lunch earlier in the year. Here’s a recent comment he made;

Played in the last day of our championships today and played the absolute worst I have played in I don’t know how long and just left the course not knowing what to do.To say I am frustrated is a total understatement

Sometimes golf can be a shit of a sport. No matter what we do the game keeps throwing curve balls. Lukey needs to stand strong. He also needs to deal with reality.

One bad game is not a disaster. A poor round can happen to anyone. To ignore the odd bad game takes a level of courage most of us don’t have. It’s tough and it’s counter-intuitive but it’s the easiest way to overcome a rough patch. Ignore and move on.

What can you do anyway? Does the worry, panic, stress do any good?

He also needs to adjust his expectations. What shot can he definitely play with almost certainty? He then needs to hit that shot. Any other option is not going to work. This is way harder than it appears. The driver – the miracle shot over water – the “hit and hope” through the trees all seem like a good idea at the time. But if you can’t respect your skill level you’ll always be disappointed.

Club Championships

This is about me. I played in the 36 hole final of my Club Championships on Sunday. I lost. My opponent played very well. He stood strong when the chips were down and was very solid when he got his nose in front.

In the morning round I was 2up standing in the middle of the 17th fairway. I had just reeled off some of the best golf I’d played in years. I was on fire. I was confident. I then made a rookie mistake.

I got complacent. I didn’t pick a target and was unsure of my intention. I lost the 17th hole from nowhere. Compounding that error was a repeat on the 18th. The same result ensued.

What was needed here was a resetting of the mechanism. To avoid the frustration and get on with playing the game. I didn’t completely lose the plot but I wasn’t 100% in the zone. This resulted in a disappointing outcome and not just because I lost. The annoying thing is that I got away from what I know works. I wasn’t brave enough to stick with “my way”.

Bravery is not an easy thing to learn. You can’t read how to do it in a book. Someone can’t tell you to be “brave” and then it magically appears. You have to earn it and it often comes when you don’t get what you want. The secret really is in the dirt – it’s in the arena.

Failure is probably the best mechanism of all. There’s nothing like disappointment to focus your attention and learn from the errors of your way. And all this takes a level of commitment and courage that can’t be found in a golf instruction book.

If we could all learn to follow our instincts, play golf our way and avoid the many distractions the game sends our way we’d all play better. Frustration would die and we’d all be brave little (and happy) golfers.

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7 Comments

  • Lukey

    Reply Reply November 1, 2012

    Very good post Cam and as per usual you are right and I have taken on board what you have said .I will continue playing the game and shelve ego.
    Cheers Lukey
    PS. Thanks once again for your advice.

  • Scott Barrow

    Reply Reply November 1, 2012

    Nice one mate

  • Cam280

    Reply Reply November 2, 2012

    ‘Know thy self’

    Evolution requires that everyday there’s a subtle change in our mind, body and soul.

    “Golf is organic”

    If you think its robotic and mechanical then you will not be in sync.

    ‘Second nature’

    To be at one with a golf course from season to season, knowing where the wind blows, where the ground hardens and softens, together with knowing your feelings and physical well being on any given day, is in my opinion instinct.

  • Grayden Provis

    Reply Reply November 3, 2012

    “We also need the courage to ……keep trucking no matter what is thrown at us”

    I remember asking an old man to tell me in one word what life boiled down to. He thought long and hard before eventually answering “perseverance”. But of course there’s also a time to acknowledge the horse is dead and stop flogging it. The trick is to know the difference. There’s no rule book you can turn to, you just have to go by instinct in the end. And sometimes your instinct will be wrong. You’ll quit when you should have persevered and you’ll persevere when you should have quit. But thats probably OK too. Its probably only those “mistakes” that sharpen our ability to see where the line is – if our eyes are open that is.

  • Cam280

    Reply Reply November 3, 2012

    “Just keep swimming, just keep swimming, swimming , swimming, swimming swimming”

  • Troy Vayanos

    Reply Reply November 4, 2012

    I like the first section with the 23 year old who lacked a little bit of confidence.

    It is a hard thing to step up to the ball and have the courage to hit shots you normally don’t hit. Us golfers need to train ourselves to believe in our golf swing and that we can play all the shots.

    A lot of this work can begin at the golf driving range, but really need to be put into action on the golf course during a round.

    Great post

    • Cameron

      Reply Reply November 5, 2012

      Troy: Her story is a good one. When she was younger she used to practice by exploring and having fun. As she got older she was more focused on technique and on “how” she was swinging. Along the way she forgot what she was doing and got away from playing the game – at least that’s my opinion.

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