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  • Writer's pictureCarol Alford

Its Childs play

Last week I talked about the Performance Triangle, a concept introduced by Timothy Gallwey in his book 'The inner game of golf'. The triangle is used to explain how golfers can enhance their game, by paying attention to Performance. Enjoyment and Learning. This week I want to take you through the importance of 'Enjoyment' when playing.

All too often, golfers forget why they play the game of golf. Whilst many of you want to be competitive in your game, you can at times, focus entirely on this aspect to the detriment of enjoying it too. Without knowing it, you are in effect eroding your potential performance. Introducing the fun element back into your game, is not only good for your psyche, its also good for your performance too - don't believe me then read on....

How many of you can remember summer holidays spent at the seaside, playing crazy golf with your parents or grandparents? I can remember my nan in fits of giggles, trying to get the wretched ball through, what seemed like an impossible hole, in a wooden windmill, only to find the rotating sails sending the ball back through her feet. It was such a fun time, without a care in the world, lots of laughter mixed with incredible competition, to beat my cousins, to sink the ball in the final hole of the 18 hole complex.    

Today I see so many golfers playing the game and instead of embracing the enjoyment, they are berating themselves for miss-hitting a shot, as if their life depended on it. Getting annoyed and beating ourselves up, during our game, impacts our performance and instead of playing well, we end up playing badly. When we play poorly, it not only affects our mood, but also creates tension in our body, and the inability to think rationally, resulting in silly mistakes being made and another 0.1 being added to our handicap.

So how can we stop ourselves falling into this trap time after time?

Become mindful on what triggers those emotions. Next time you play or go out to practice on the golf course, make a note of what makes you become annoyed. Being aware of what triggers these emotions is the first step to taking back control. Once you've identified your triggers, take each item on your list and decide how you can make changes to the way you react/respond. For some items, you will realise you can't control, so accept they are going to happen and find ways to resolve this e.g slow players in front. You can't control the speed of players in front, if you find yourself waiting become creative in how you can use the time wisely - you could take some gentle stretches, take on some food to keep your nutrition topped up, or share a joke with your partners.  Chose how to respond to keep the enjoyment going instead of wasting energy on becoming angry.

So what does that mean for you?

You might consider your perspective of enjoyment and achievement and try shifting the enjoyment to the forefront of your golf experience — no matter what your level. Think about why you play. Is it to enjoy the game or achieve something, or both? For almost all of us it is both. If it is for you, remember the order of importance; enjoyment will support achievement, not the other way around. Making enjoyment a priority will help you in your pursuit of achievement and reaching your potential in the game. 

If you would like to learn more about the mental side of the game please get in touch or check out our other blogs, there's something in here for everyone.


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