September 10, 2023

Attitude is Fundamental

There are few things in golf and life that you can control. Your attitude is one of them. When playing the game on the golf course you are striving to do your best and have a fulfilling experience. Your preparation for this round of golf encompasses many things both physically and mentally. Your attitude has everything to do with your enjoyment of the round and greatly affects your ability to perform your best.

Tommy Armour, the great Scottish golfer and teacher, said, "the average expert player, if he is lucky, hits six to eight good shots a round. The rest are good misses". Walter Hagen, another Hall of Fame golfer, figured he was going to poorly mishit at least seven shots a round to which he was prepared to accept the consequences. For the typical amateur, there will be many more failures than successes. Getting angry and upset does not help or rectify what happen to your last shot. Your reaction to your last shot is totally up to you! Think of a situation where you witnessed another player display anger or loudly call themselves and idiot. Typically, their game deteriorated from that point and their mood soured. They controlled the outcome by their reaction.

What happens to you is nowhere near as important as how you react to what happens to you. Lou Holtz, famed college football coach, said that "Life is 10 percent what happens to you and 90 percent how you respond to it." Your attitude can make all the deference. You would hate for someone to call you stupid or belittle you on how poorly your last shot was, but inwardly you were telling yourself the same thing. If your goal is to succeed, then you should be reenforcing your mind with positive images and sayings. Think of yourself as your coach. What would you like your coach or teacher to say to you?

Every golf shot has something wrong with it. A perfect shot is unattainable, yet I've seen high handicap golfers expect professional like results and get mad that they didn't hit it perfectly. Mistakes happen on each shot, which should be a positive learning moment and not be turned to a negative. Look at your result and find a positive. Smile knowing the next shot will be better, and your identity is not tied up on the result of your last shot. John Wooden, the famed UCLA basketball coach, said this about mistakes. "Recognize it, admit it, learn from it, and forget it". He preached to his team not to be a perfectionistic, but to push the envelope. If you never make a mistake, you are not pushing yourself to be better. The best make mistakes and learn where others bemoan their fate and stagnate.

Viktor Hovland has become a fan favorite on the PGA Tour, because of his outgoing, cherry, positive personality. He always seems to have a smile or boyish grin on his face. Since coming on the Tour in 2019, he has steadily improved and now sits as the 4th best player in the world. But it hasn't been easy. His biggest weakness was his wedge play around the greens. Numerous documented poor wedge shots cost him tournaments or high finishes. Never did he loss his cool and get down on himself. His smile and attitude remained the same. He resolved to improve and learn from his mistakes. Now that part of his game is a strong point. Dr. Don Greene, a performance specialist centering on preforming artists like violinist and pianists, maintains that facial expression is fundamental in changing your self-image and attitude. Don ascribes fixing a smile when entering a recital or competition. In a short time that facial appearance will become habit forming and impact not just your performance skills, but your whole life. Hovland's face tells you his self-assurance in himself. This is a happy person doing something he really enjoys.

What image do you want to present to the world? What does that image represent? What are traits in other people that they possess that you would like to emulate? Attitudes don't just happen; they are cultivated over long periods of time. Many times, you do not know that you have slipped into an undesirable state. Good thing, an attitude is one of the things most easily changed. Takes introspective and resolve, but change can happen. On the golf course, you will have constant challenges and obstacles. How you handle these difficulties will depend on your attitude. Face a problem, don't scowl; face it as a challenge and smile. You'll be surprised how your body will respond and overall feelings will improve. "Keep your head up; act like a champion" was a favorite saying from former Alabama football coach, Paul "Bear" Bryant. Attitude is one of the components that make up the mental side of the game. Attitude defines your enjoyment of the game and augments and enhances the other elements for a strong psychological makeup that encompasses confidence, concentration, emotional control, routine, imagination, logic, and strategy. Of the items that make up a strong mental base, attitude is a foundational building block. Success in golf and life starts with this belief.


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