The dangerous language of Golf - What you say about your game and how to change it.

What we talk about and how we think about our own games can make or break our experience of it.


How we assess the state of our golf and what words we use about our games has always intrigued me.

When we get asked, “how was your round or what was your day like?” We tend to immediately jump into dissecting the round and telling both the other person all of the negative and horrible things that happened. How badly you played, what hideous numbers you had to write down. All that awful business.


Before we even start a round, we “prepare” ourselves by complaining about the weather, our sore backs or the badly worn grips or how we struggled out of bed or the line up at the Coffee shop. We are already mentally excusing ourselves from any responsibility and almost condoning the impending horrible round.


A friend of mine was recently extolling the virtues and merits of being grateful and using Gratitude as a transformational vehicle for your life. There have been times in my life that I’ve used gratitude techniques to great effect and I’ve got to thinking that we could use some of that to reflect on our rounds of golf, a different way.


Now I know some people find “The Secret” and all that other Law of Attraction stuff a little on the hokey side, but bear with me for a moment. What if we decided to quantify our golf differently and each time we were asked about our games, we were able to describe the day in a more positive and grateful light? Surely, we would remain in a better state of mind than the one we commonly end up in.


Typically our relationship with golf boils down to what we shoot. The score is everything, the be all and end all. The target and the cinder block around our neck. Even when we have a great day, it’s because we scored well, didn’t have “blow up, disaster holes” and “shot lights out”. Should this be the only defining characteristic in golf?


Typically the Pro golfer goes to a deeper level when analyzing a round. They allude to the fact that the hit the ball great, or putted well, felt they saw the reads better or stayed patient. The might even say that the score didn’t reflect how they felt they played, whether they shot 62 or 75. There is truth in that, that sometimes you hit the ball terribly but still manage to scramble a score, or conversely you stripe it and the gods conspire against you. Limiting your description of a round to one single number never truly tells the whole story.


Here’s an idea for us all, “Golf, in itself, is not about numbers, it is merely described by numbers.”

The game of golf has so much more to offer us than just a score. The number doesn’t define your game or you. We should be looking for deeper reasons to be out there. We spend so much time on the golf course that we need to attribute different parameters to define our experience.


Ask yourself these simple questions;


What am I looking for, from a round of golf that will add to my life?

Why do I play this game?

What could I choose to enjoy whilst playing golf?

What language do I use and how do I typically describe myself as a golfer to others?


Self deprecation is a valuable skill in life and golf but readily dismissing our own ability or our desire to improve is self-defeating. How many times have you heard, “Well, I’m useless at this, so I don’t care”.


Your attitude is everything. You could, instead, decide that golf is a challenge. Not an insurmountable one, but one you want to take on with a sense of excitement, fun and wonder. You should assume an excited state when you talk about your golf. Tell people that you’re excited by the prospect of playing golf and learning how to do it better. Of course, golf remains one of man’s great frustrations but we should learn to relish the challenge and the pursuit of a better game.


Tell people that you love being out there, outside, in nature. Tell people that you are committed to learning the game, to have fun and enjoy the company of others. Tell people how much you love finding out about your playing partners and how they play the game. Find ways that you can speak with fun and energy about golf rather than merely what you shot.


In life and golf, we tend to become what we “say” about ourselves. Now, of course, we can’t go around telling everyone else how awesome we are and how great our games are, but we should decide both externally and internally our choice of words and our level of engagement with the game.

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