How to beat Pesky on those off days

Some day the moons aren’t aligned. You don’t feel quite right and you sort of know you’re in for a tough day. Pesky, that little nuisance, has a field day.

“you’re useless”
“you can’t play”
“you’re an embarrassment”

What to do?

In a perfect world I’d be able to give you a few tips and tricks and show you the path to magically unlocking your A-game. But, it’s far from a perfect world.

You can’t do anything. On those “bad” days there isn’t much you can do. Sure, you keep playing (that what real golfers do) but deep down you accept that golf is hard and sometimes poor scores are part of the deal.

This hasn’t always been my attitude. I used to fight the bad days. I’d get upset, angry and frustrated (sometimes all at the same time). But this doesn’t work so well. It’s tiring and usually makes things worse.

A “golfer” will get on with it. They’ll realise that today wasn’t their day and a better day might happen next time. This attitude limits Pesky’s influence and keeps him at bay when the tide turns.

You know when you stand behind the ball and you know you’re going to hit a bad shot? This is a small version of a bad day.

You can fight this or go with the flow. It’s OK to make a half-hearted swing (to get the ball in play and avoid the serious trouble). Please don’t beat yourself up if you take this approach every now and then. It’s perfectly fine and normal. It’s not possible to be confident on each shot you play – remember, it’s not a perfect world.

The lesson here is not to be too tough on yourself. Play the game and realise that all golfers go through the same awful feelings every now and then. Only the real players accept it and don’t destroy their entire game in the process (hint: they don’t rebuild their swing and hit the panic button).

Have fun, swing freely and play the game.

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  • Andrew

    Reply Reply June 9, 2012

    When I get to the stage in around that you talking about, where I to used to get frustrated and angry, I now use the remaining holes to try different things hit a 4 iron where I would usually hit driver, try and layup to a different position. Try and learn something about my game or the course that I might not have otherwise learned.

    • Cameron

      Reply Reply June 11, 2012

      Good work Andrew. There’s no point in giving up but there’s always an opportunity to learn something.

  • Gregor

    Reply Reply June 11, 2012

    I just read a post on another website, completely unrelated to golf but I think it is along the same lines as Pesky. I’ve copied the bits I think are relevant to this post.

    what’s the most important skill? learning to be happy with yourself.

    Perhaps we’ve made some mistakes and failed at some things we tried to do. Honestly, everyone does, but when we do it, we take it to heart. It makes us feel bad about ourselves — we’re not disciplined, we’re not good enough. This leads to further failures, further hurting our self-image.

    One bad thought leads to another, and then another, until we have a bundle of bad thoughts that become our self-image. This negative self-image can affect everything we do. But this self-image and these bad thoughts are not us — they are things that happen within us, but we don’t have to let them become us. We can cope with them, and turn them into positive thoughts, into gratitude, into happiness.

    How do we master this new skill? The simple answer is practice. The complicated answer is that it takes a while, because our self-image wasn’t formed overnight and it won’t be changed overnight. That’s OK. Just focus on this moment, and you’ll learn as you go.

    Become aware of your mental movie. You have a movie (perhaps a series of them) that you play inside your head about yourself. Usually we aren’t aware of this, but it happens, throughout the day. The movie is about who we are: you have a flabby stomach, you are fat, you are too skinny, you aren’t disciplined, you aren’t lovable, your braces look weird, you aren’t good at anything. Start to pay attention when this movie plays — it affects everything you do. Realize that this movie isn’t you — it’s just playing in your head. Realize that it isn’t true, and isn’t based on reality. Realize that it can be changed.

    Learn mental judo. There will be things coming in all around you that will try to attack you. When they are hurtling towards you, learn to lean to one side and let them whiz by. Give them a small shove, with a thought like, “That comment is not about me, it’s about you.”

    You are already perfect — you just need to realize it. You don’t need anything to solve this problem — you already have it. You just need to practice, like it’s the most important thing in your life, because in many ways, it is.

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