Every Shot Is A Surprise

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Playing golf is best played one stroke at a time, not thinking about your future shots. Thinking ahead changes the way you think about right now.

A round of golf is a four-hour stretch of time that travels over 18 separate holes that will be pleasant, unpleasant, trying, enjoyable, challenging, focused, stressful, and sometimes frustrating and disappointing. What we do know when we start is that things will happen that are unexpected both good and not so good. What we also know is that we do not know the outcome when we start. The round of golf holds surprise after surprise, sometimes very pleasing and gratifying surprises and sometimes crushing and infuriating. The great thing about this game is that you have to play the game to find out what will happen. You do not know the future before it happens, no one does.

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Play golf one stroke at a time

Playing golf is best played one stroke at a time, not thinking about your future shots. Thinking ahead changes the way you think about right now. If you are trying to figure out what score is needed or how you are going to do something in the future, your energy for the shot at hand is altered. The simple act of “trying” to make something happen versus just allowing something to happen changes the mind to muscle connections. The golf strokes are varied from when you practiced without “trying” to make something happen in the future. In practice you allow your stroke to happen and don’t have the emotional attachment you have to the ball and where it lands because you have another chance with the next ball and there are no scorecards in practice!

Have no expectations

Your thinking changes your body, it can be relaxed and ready for each shot or it can be fearful and worried about the future and where the ball is going and thus the body is tight or just simply out of rhythm for the shot at hand.

An expectation is a belief centered on the future. High performance athletes can tend to be perfectionists that focus on results and hold very high expectations for themselves. The problem with this is that their standards are so high that if they make a mistake they criticize themselves ruthlessly. There tends to be a focus on the negative, “I stink”, instead of “ I can do this”. Unfortunately things tend to go down hill from this point.

Do you get easily frustrated when you make a mistake? Do you expect more out of yourself than what you are getting? Are your standards set very high thinking that you do not want to live in a world of mediocrity? Are you overly critical of yourself and your performance? If you believe this is the way to get your best performance you may want to rethink your approach.

You can’t predict the future

Every shot is a surprise! Really, it is. You cannot know the future and a golf stroke has so many moving parts and a thought process that can change your golf stroke in an instant that the future for your ball is a surprise. Many times it can be a pleasant surprise but before you make your stroke, you do not know the outcome. High standards while playing can create high criticism if the shot does not go as planned.

Expectations are an extra burden you put upon yourself to meet a predetermined standard that you deem as “good”. You either reach your standard (a good day) or you don’t (a bad day).

Start at Point A

Point A is playing knowing that each shot is a surprise and each shot will set you up for a new situation that requires your attention and 100% energy to do your best. You do not try to predict the outcome, you play only one stroke at a time giving it your best effort and accept what happens, both good and bad, and move on to the next shot to give 100%.

A real life scenario

A high school boy, Jacob, was playing with another boy, Tony, who was ranting and raving after each shot. Tony was always upset after each shot. It just wasn’t good enough, the ball faded instead of turning left like he saw in his mind. The putt stopped on the front edge of the hole instead of falling in, the chip was 6 feet short instead of nestling right up to the hole, all to Tony’s chagrin and now Tony was complaining and telling himself how bad he was. Jacob said to Tony on about the 3rd hole, “I used to do what you are doing and then I realized it really wasn’t helping and I trained myself to accept the outcome and move on to the next shot which I could then be more prepared for. It wasn’t that I didn’t try; I just stopped wasting my energy on what I couldn’t control. Now when I get off to a bad start I just keep trying to figure out how to stay calm and allow my game to come around.”

A few months later, Jacob was playing with some college players and a professional and he found himself 2 over par after 4 holes. Jacob really wanted to play well with this better competition and he was excited to play with better players. He just kept plugging along and a putt dropped for birdie, then out of the blue he hit a great 3 wood onto the green on a par 5 and made the putt for an eagle, just when he least expected it he was back in the game and finished the round 4 under par and very much in control of his game. The others did not fair so well, criticizing themselves after a poor shot, questioning their strokes and feeling lost and disappointed by the end of the round. When asked by the professional if it was difficult to play from Point A, Jacob replied, “At first it was but I’ve been doing it for so long, there is no other way to play.”

Every shot is a surprise and if you are looking for the good in each shot you can find it and if you are looking for the bad in each shot you are sure to find that also. You will create a positive or negative energy about your game just from your perspective of your golf shot. When you decide to play from Point A to Point A allowing yourself to be 100% present, positive and prepared you can make any game a productive and beneficial experience.

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