Something bigger

It’s easy to get caught up in your score or how you play. While this is understandable, could you be missing out?

For so long, my golf has been defined by score alone. If I played well I was happy – and unhappy if the score didn’t live up to expectations. The more I write about learning (and walking my talk) I’ve realised I’ve redefined what’s important.

On Sunday I missed a sitter of a putt. It was only about a foot long and straight in. Not sure what happened and to be honest I don’t want to know. It’s not like knowing is going to make it go in. And will knowing prevent me from missing one again?


What surprised me was my reaction. I was a little shocked and annoyed, but not overly so. Normally a miss like this would result in more attention and frustration. I was calm and focused.

I realised right there that score isn’t overly important to me anymore. Sure, it’s nice to play well and it would have been better if that small putt had found the hole but I didn’t really care. I made a joke about it and moved on.

So what is important?

For me it’s about playing the game with full attention. On learning (I’m still learning) to play automatically and trust my swing when the pressure is on. I’m also keen to explore new shots and work on these shots so I can give them my full attention under the heat of competition.

I know score will still be a factor, but it’s not going to be the most important thing for me. I’m well aware that this sounds airy fairy and most will ignore it and/or think I’m going crazy. I’m comfortable with that. We’ve all gotta walk to the beat of our own drum.

One thing is for sure. Learning, attention and trust are far bigger than just the score. They’re also miles ahead of grip, stance and swing. And when we aim for something larger it’s when the unexpected hits us between the eyes.

– a truly satisfying score
– deeper meaning and more enjoyment
– or hitting the pin from 103 metres and making birdie (which happened to me after missing that silly putt)

Are you missing something with your game? And how could you play that would give you something bigger?

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  • Andrew

    Reply Reply May 9, 2012

    I love these posts, one of my favorite quotes is “Of course there is no formula for success except perhaps an unconditional acceptance of life and what it brings.”

    I have missed easy putts in the past and keep going over them in my head why did that happen, what can I do to make this never happen again does my putter need to be perfectly square at impact? What do I need to work on so this will never happen again? All it does is create more tension to analyze and consciously correct a perceived fault. Sure I can work on my putting and try and improve but accepting that occasionally I may miss an easy one will help more.

    I seem to want an explanation as to why I missed an easy putt, I need an answer but there is no definite answer and it shouldn’t bother me, easy to say.

    Why did I miss the putt? Was my putter face square at impact was I concentrating. Sure I can go and hit 100 putts ensuring my face is square and I am concentrating will it stop it from happening again, not sure there is a definite answer.
    As you have written before, some guys rarely practice (Bubba) others practice until their hands bleed, they both miss easy putts there is no answer. Open stance, closed stance there is no definite answer, is that why it sounds airy fairy?

    There is no formula for successful putting except perhaps an unconditional acceptance of each putt and what it brings.

    • Mike Divot

      Reply Reply May 9, 2012

      “What do I need to work on so this will never happen again?”

      This seems to be the question that so many ask and try to answer. Even top pros, who end up destroying their game chasing mirages.

      I remember reading about Tom Watson, after he missed a 2-foot putt. “Weren’t you upset?” “What went wrong?” etc. Watson replied: “it just goes to show, even a good putter can miss a 2-foot putt sometimes.”

      • Cameron

        Reply Reply May 9, 2012

        Mike: And I think Watson went on to win the US Open that year. Everyone remembers his chip in on 17 – but maybe his relaxed approach to the missed putt helped him more.

    • Cameron

      Reply Reply May 9, 2012

      Andrew: The adult mind always wants an answer. If we can’t find something suitable then we tend to make something up. Golf is not overly important, a miss putt or two isn’t going to change the world (like a plane crash could) so we’re best to forgot about the odd miss and get on with it. We might never work out why we miss, but we can get on with it and play the game.

  • Lukey

    Reply Reply May 10, 2012

    Perhaps the approach to the saga of the short putt missed is to think along the lines that I get 99.9% of them so why worry.
    Cheers Lukey

    • Cameron

      Reply Reply May 10, 2012


    • Mike Divot

      Reply Reply May 10, 2012

      Hagen: I expect to hit 7 bad shots per round.

      Nicklaus: I expect to hit 6 bad shots per round, and only 6 shots to go exactly as I intended.

      Some other great golfer (I can’t remember who, might be Palmer): I expect to hit 5 bad shots per round.

      Now look at Tiger Woods after every single shot. He pulls faces, he grimaces, he moans and curses … lighten up, Tiger, or you’ll never get there!

      • Cameron

        Reply Reply May 12, 2012

        I think Tiger has gotten away from playing the game. He’s thinking too much and worried about his swing. He’s far too good to be playing so poorly and will show glimpses of his best. But until he starts letting go I can’t see him winning as often.

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