I played golf yesterday for the first time in an Olympic cycle (four years). I borrowed a set of clubs from Mr. Charm, who conveniently didn’t include a putter, only the most commonly used club in the bag, and met with so co-workers to play 18. I do not consider myself a golfer. I find the game insufferably slow, dull and rife with obscure quirks of psuedo-gentlemanship that don’t comport with my general psyche. Being out of my element, I did my best to find some kernel of truth to expand upon in the blog.
18 holes, 133 shots, 8 lost balls including one with the Kentucky logo (which might not have happened if I had a putter) and enumerable profanities later, I came up with the following: Golf at the recreational level is defined by the Meltdown; a loss of mental focus induced, perpetuated and aggravated by the over-reaction to otherwise minor mistakes.
Each player in our group shown themselves able to strike a good shot, and even to rebound from a bad shot. The match was decided on the meltdown holes where one of us would string together 3 or 4 bad shots in a row, and reach the green with a mild case of post-traumatic stress disorder followed by a 4-put finish. It was a mental battle on two significant levels.
One, none of the three players in my group play enough golf to be any good. Specifically, none of us has committed the repetitions to develop myelin in our brains that hard wire the mechanics and feel of a golf swing. It is not a matter of physical ability, but trained mental and physical ability produces the circuitry to consistently swing a golf club.
Second, we failed to maintain a positive mindset while playing. Our mental weakness was exposed. From the outset, the three of us made pre-emptive excuses for bad play. This was self-fulfilling prophecy of our own failure. We did not manage our body language when things when badly. Slumping shoulders, dropped heads and muttering betrayed a lack of belief in what we were doing.
These two traits combined to make each of us susceptible to The Meltdown. At least one of which was within our control, and all three of us failed completely. We had the tools to control out mental state. Had we done so, we would not have shot par for the day, but we would have enjoyed lower scores and come close to playing our best given our level of expertise.
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