“How did you miss that putt?”

I missed a 3 footer. It was on the 17th hole last Sunday as my Pennant season was coming to the end. The miss meant that I lost the chance to take the lead in a really tight match against a very good player.

I didn’t panic. The miss didn’t even register in my care factor scale. I shrugged my shoulders and was ready to battle up the last hole.

At the conclusion of the match multiple people came up to me and asked, “how did you miss that putt?”.

Me: I don’t know. I thought I hit a good putt.
Them: But how could you miss it?
Me: I don’t know.
Them: But surely you want to know what you did wrong.
Me: I didn’t do anything wrong, thought I hit a good putt and it just didn’t go in.
Them: How can you get better if you don’t know what you did wrong?
Me: I didn’t do anything wrong.

Some people like to know all the details. They almost crave it and struggle to play without analysing every shot they hit. While you can’t control what other people say (and think) you can control your own thoughts.

I made good putts on holes 15 and 16. Both were over 4 feet on really fast (but bumpy) greens. Both putts went into the middle of the hole. This is what I focus on rather than the odd miss. You almost need selective memory.

I approached the putt on 17 in the same way that I almost always do (I say “almost” because there’s always some malfunction once in a while). I was relaxed. I wasn’t hatching and I certainly wasn’t over thinking the situation. I hit the auto-pilot button and stroked the putt. I remember it feeling really solid off the club face – it felt good. When I looked up the putt did a big horseshoe.

It missed. Not the end of the world and nothing I could do about it.

This mindset hasn’t come easily. It’s normal to panic and over analyse. It’s what I used to do when I was a terrible putter and probably the reason I developed the yips. But I don’t do it anymore and find it funny that other people get concerned over the occasional miss.

A selective memory is important. Focus on the good stuff and forget about the bad. It really helps you get back on track after a less than perfect result.

P.S. If you’re interested, I won the last hole after hitting a nice approach shot. The little miss didn’t cost me too much. Unfortunately the golf team lost 4/3. Bummer.

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4 Comments

  • Lukey

    Reply Reply May 22, 2012

    Reminds me of the story involving the great Jack Nicklaus when questioned by some reporters as to whether he 3 putted much and his comment was “I never 3 putt” and a little Scottish gentlemen remarked but I saw you 3 putt last week Mr. Nicklaus and Jack merely replied I do not 3 putt.I think that reflects exactly what you have said here Cam Jack never focused on bad putting only the good putting.By the way great post Cam and us mere mortals should just concentrate on hitting the best putt we can and accept whatever result we get.
    Cheers Lukey

    • Cameron

      Reply Reply May 23, 2012

      Lukey: I’ve heard that story before. Apparently JN got quite annoyed with the guy because he wouldn’t back down. JN chooses to think in a way that helps him but others can’t understand it. It’s up to us to take control of our game and thinking. Cam

  • Andrew

    Reply Reply May 22, 2012

    I heard a similar quote from Babe Ruth when asked what he thought about when he was struck out, his reply was, “hitting home runs.”

  • Scott Barrow

    Reply Reply May 23, 2012

    Cam there’s beautiful organisational change model called appreciative enquiry, which takes a similar “strengths” based approach.

    You’ve been on fire for weeks now. Outstanding.

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