Many golfers seek golf’s holy grail through the mastery of swing mechanics. They practice diligently and work hard to acquire golf’s elusive, repeatable swing. To them, golf is simple: Hit the ball far and straight off the tee; go find your ball and hit it again until the hole gets in the way. All of golf’s problems and challenges can be solved through better ball striking. These golfers tend to take lessons, read golf books and magazines, study YouTube videos, and watch lots of golf on tv. A second group of golfers have arrived at a point in their games where they realize that their swings aren’t going to get much better. The focus for them is on the mental game of golf. This school of thought has gained a lot of popularity recently with many books and audio podcasts on the subject.
For these golfers, making better decisions (ie club selection), picking realistic targets, eliminating negative thoughts (and self-speak), and learning how to concentrate appropriately are the keys to improving their scores. Both of these schools of thought are valid and deserve attention from any golfer who strives to improve. However, I would like to suggest a third approach to golf “improvement”. This approach does not have anything to do with swing mechanics or mental skills. It has to do with a much more fundamental part of our golf, namely emotional control.
The three greatest gifts that man has received are also the three greatest gifts that golfers can receive: Faith, Hope and Love. Allow me to explain. Faith has everything to do with acceptance and confidence. Hope is about positive expectations. And love is……well love is love. If we as golfers can actually put these three emotions into every pre-shot moment; every shot; and every post-shot reaction, not only will our scores improve, but our enjoyment of the game will sky rocket. Think about it for a moment. Wouldn’t it be great to have faith in ourselves and our golf swings on a consistent basis? And wouldn’t golf’s mental gurus agree that having a positive expectation (aka hope) every time we made a shot would put us into a great frame of mind? And how wonderful would it be if we always loved the challenges that golf provided us on a regular basis? Imagine loving: fast greens as much as slow greens; windy days as much as calm days; making a bogey after hitting the ball OB on the tee shot as much as making a birdie; buried sand lies as much as a 100 yard shot from the fairway. Imagine loving to practice. Imagine how we would play if we viewed golf as an endless opportunity to experience the tangible benefits of Faith, Hope and Love.
By Tim Dietrich