While whipping your golf game into shape, one of the most crucial components can be creating and managing the right mindset for success on the course. A strong mental game is the foundation for faster improvement and more plentiful enjoyment.
So, let’s talk about embarrassment.
The source and intensity of embarrassment will vary from golfer to golfer, but even the pros have it creep up from time to time. This was one of the hardest parts of learning the game for me. I tried to schedule my trips to the range around when the least people might be present. And I only ever wanted to hit balls on the end far, far away from anyone else. At some point, I realized that this was no way to live my golf life. I just had to get over it.
One of the first ways that I learned to cope with this feeling was taking a step back to watch the others around me. As bad as it may sound, in essence I celebrated their failures, because it was a reminder to me that this is a really tough game. Sometimes you can be so far inside your OWN head when imagining what OTHERS are thinking that you don’t realize how many players are whiffing, shanking, and hitting worm burners right along with you.
For those who carry more skill, the important part of my epiphany is that embarrassment comes down to comparison. Maybe no one around you is a shankopotamus. Maybe you’re playing with a crew of supremely gifted and talented golfers (or just someone you really want to impress). In case you missed it, NEWSFLASH: There are a million golfers in this world who are WAY worse than you. And the guys or gals you’re playing with have seen them too. I promise. So in comparison, you’re a gem.
But maybe that doesn’t make you feel better. Maybe you need more than knowing that other people struggle. How about the fact that other people are good people? One of my favorite things about the game is that golfers are taught to be respectful, considerate and well-mannered. Yes, there are outliers (usually provoked by adult beverages). And your buddies don’t count. (Their heckling is an expression of love. Remember that.) But the general golf population isn’t going to snicker at you or make you feel bad. In fact, I can’t even count the times I’ve made some noise or comment about my poor stroke and a neighbor on the range stopped to offer a comforting remark. *Side Note: To all of you who have taken the time to say, “It’s a helluva a game isn’t it?” in these moments- Thank you a thousand times over.
Above all else, what you really need in order to overcome embarrassment is a reminder of what you’re doing out there in the first place. Let your desire to get better outweigh your fear. If you can keep your eye on the prize, you’re going to be ten times more successful on the course. In the words of Gary Player & Arnold Palmer, the harder you practice, the luckier you’ll get.