Don't Be A Frustrated Golfer - Be An Armchair Zen Master!
A few years ago I learned a very useful lesson that can be invaluable for golfers. I was standing in a supermarket queue behind a mother and young boy of about three years. The boy was pleading with his mum for a chocolate bar (so thoughtfully placed at the checkout where a young child couldn’t fail to see it). His mother was having none of it and, just as he contemplated unleashing a full-blown tantrum, she calmly but sternly said, “You’re not getting any chocolate – now deal with it!”
Although at the time I thought this was harsh advice for such a young lad, it epitomises what we need to do when things aren’t going our way.
Just Deal With It!
Throwing a tantrum or getting frustrated solves nothing and certainly won’t help you play good golf. The timely intervention from the boy’s mother worked, and he opted to sulk instead; I made a mental note to try it with my kids. The mother effectively broke the link in the chain, with possibly the benefit of previous conditioning, and stopped the inevitable outcome.
How often do you get frustrated with yourself on the course when you're having a bad day?
Whilst you cannot control everything around you such as the conditions, you can control your response to them. Missing a simple putt is only frustrating if you let it frustrate you. Stress is your response to the situation; it’s not the situation’s fault if you react negatively. If you can learn to stay detached from the result of your last shot you’ll be in a much better state of mind for the next one.
Try the following simple game below while viewing TV from the comfort of your armchair. It works even better if you’re watching something that gets you involved, such as a sports event, political debate or scary movie.
I call this one The Armchair Zen Master.
1. Place your hands on your legs or arms of the chair. Relax your hands and let the whole palm come into contact with what’s underneath.
2. Give your hands a break and let them sit without doing anything. Sense the shape, texture and temperature of the surface beneath them, but don’t move them.
3. Do the same with your feet and maintain an awareness of both your hands and feet while watching TV.
4. Be aware of the movement of your ribs and the movement of air in and out of your nose and think ‘soft face’.
5. Keep a sense of ‘This is me watching TV’ and see if you can prevent yourself from reacting habitually to what’s happening. Maybe you shout at the TV if your team is doing badly or if a politician has evaded the question yet again. Don’t suppress your reaction; just let it go over your head so it doesn’t invoke a response.
6. See how long you can sit in this detached state without reacting to the events on the box.
This process can work in all situations and is particularly useful when things aren’t going well on the golf course or if you have teenagers in the family! Learning to detach yourself from your surroundings buys you time to choose how you respond.
You then have the choice to respond positively and play your next shot calmly with a far better chance of success.
My book, Golf Sense, contains many more practical, easy-to-follow steps to help you play better golf and prevent you suffering the fate of being a frustrated golfer. To find out more please click here.
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