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Senior Golfer - On The Green

Don’t let emotions ruin your game

The Putting Green

It’s August and many senior golfers are enjoying their rounds because they’re hitting more consistent shots, focusing better on the shot at hand, and posting lower scores! Although this sounds logical and is the dream of every senior golfer, many of them are being held back from reaching this goal by not controlling their emotions.

I believe that one of the most overlooked areas preventing amateur golfers from hitting more consistent golf shots and posting lower scores is their emotions or, more specifically, controlling their emotions on the golf course. Let’s face it—everyone has seen people lose it on the golf course, and we’re not talking about their golf balls. Clubs get thrown in the air, golf balls get slammed to the ground, and a whole litany of profanities are uttered when that shot either misses the cup, lands in the bunker or makes a splash in the water hazard.

Let me be clear about this: I am as guilty as the next people in letting emotions ruin my golf game. I became very aware of this as when I played a round in June and was two under par for my first six holes. On the seventh hole, I hit a perfect drive, a great eight iron from 143 yards, and then I missed a six-foot putt for birdie.

I went to the next tee, a par three of 200 yards, muttering to myself, “How could I miss that putt? It was straight up hill.” As you might have guessed, my tee shot on the par three landed in the front trap, but I hit a great sand shot and prepared to stroke my four-foot putt into the hole, when that little voice in my head whispered, “Don’t pull it left like you did on the last hole!” I didn’t pull it; I just it too hard and it lipped out.

To make a long story short, I didn’t par any of the next nine holes, made birdie on the eighteenth and ended up shooting an 80. Upon reflection and analysis, I realized that I had let my emotions get the best of me. Moreover, in talking with my fellow golfers, I discovered that most golfers either ignore or tend to overlook the role of emotions in their golf games. The corollary of this is that the best golfers are those who are in control of their emotions.

Most golfers don’t even acknowledge their emotions. As a result, they never realize that everything we do out on the course is affected by our emotions. Whether it’s a good shot or a bad one, emotions are part of our golf games.

Here are three simple tips to help you control your emotions on the course.

  • Golf is not a game of perfect. Dr. Bob Rotella wrote a book with this title, and it is so appropriate for those of us who battle our emotions on the course. Tiger Woods doesn’t make every shot perfectly. Heck, even Jack Nicklaus, Arnold Palmer and legends such as Sam Snead and Ben Hogan admit that the secret to their games is getting good results out of their bad shots. So, set realistic expectations and don’t expect your golf game to be perfect.
  • Deal with those personal issues. Every person has “stuff” going on in their lives, such as their health, their families, kids and friends. The sooner we realize our humanity and deal with these issues, the quicker our handicaps will be heading lower.
  • Focus on the shot at hand. How much time does it take to hit a golf ball? Can you clear your mind of all those things that impair your golf swings and concentrate on hitting the shot at hand? Get a pre-shot routine, make it on every shot, and let the swing come naturally.

Change your emotional response to the game of golf. Work regularly to control your emotions on the course, and you’ll get the results you want. Most of all, don’t pretend emotions don’t affect your golf game. They’re part of everyone’s makeup, so learn how to control them.

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