Get Some Emotional Coaching!
If you don’t believe your emotions can have a huge impact on your golf game, you might as well give up playing. No, I’m not kidding. But, if you’re willing to seriously evaluate how your emotions affect you as a competitor and then do something about it, read on.
We know that extremely satisfying golf is hitting good shots while remaining composed and focused in the moment. This combination usually leads to very good scores. But we all know that staying calm in the heat of competition isn’t as easy as it sounds. Competition brings pressure, both from within and from external sources and, with pressure, our emotions are always in play.
All players experience powerful golf emotions, usually variations of both anger and joy, because they want to get better and play better. Who among us has not come off the golf course reminiscing about one particular shot or putt that would have made our score just that much better? Our joyous moments happen because we feel ecstatic about a truly great shot, hole or round. It’s an affirmation that our hard work is paying off. On the darker side, our anger emerges because we feel extremely frustrated about our poor execution. In these instances golfers question everything about their game. Therefore, while striving to play better is indeed noble, a player’s strong desire to ‘always’ see progress or perform well often puts them in a constant state of golf agitation and frustration. Why? Because very few players will experience consistent progress and, in some cases, some will always be dissatisfied with their performances. It’s no wonder that in this constantly agitated state a golfer’s emotions will rise up and torpedo their ability to play well.
While nearly all golfers acknowledge that blowing up emotionally, positively or negatively, will likely ruin their game, none (or only very few) seem to seek out proper help to correct it. For some reason, golfers seem comfortable allowing their emotions to run amok and ruin their game. Yes, yes, I’m the first to acknowledge that our extraordinary emotional highs and lows happen upon us in a split-second and we react instantly, but let’s face facts. No player can expect to act like a bear with a sore bum in one moment and then feel positive, calm and focused enough to hit a great shot in the next. Tiger Woods is one of the very few who seems able to do this, but even he does not pull it off perfectly every time. Without a plan to manage and diminish our emotional highs and lows, our out-of-control emotions will result in bad golf. Given that golfers will try just about anything to improve, why is it that so few seek help with the emotional side of their game?
Based on vast research evidence and my own consultations with clients, here’s why golfers don’t want to talk about how their emotions affect their game. The root of the problem is that our emotions are very private and personal, therefore:
- some simply won’t admit their emotional state affects their game,
- some say to admit it would exhibit personal weakness or would be perceived as such,
- some feel ashamed in not knowing how to handle emotions when they erupt,
- some say sharing their golf emotions feels very awkward/invasive, and
- many golfers take it very badly when told they should try to control their deeply rooted feelings, “If my emotions occur naturally, why do I need to control them?”
Before I go any further, let me make my position on powerful golf emotions very clear. I’m not saying that golfers should not feel/experience extreme anger or joy; that would be irresponsible. What I am saying is that golfers should get help to quickly and effectively get past these emotions so they can play their next shot well. My fundamental message for all players, therefore, is that you may not be able to control what happens to you during a round, but you should have strategies to control how you react to what happens. I strongly suggest you get some emotional coaching.
This article is a variation of a section in Chapter 7 of my new book, Golf on Auto Focus: Training Your Brain to Better Your Game.