If you could step outside your body and watch yourself during a day of competitive golf, what would you see? Here are some bad attitudes that we see on or around the golf course. Do you see yourself in any of these character sketches? Each is followed by a sketch of an attitude that is more helpful to becoming a good player.
Excuse Maker - We have all played with this golfer. Their mouth opens and out come excuses. It starts before the E.M. even tees off. His tee time is too early or too late. His playing partner talks too much, too little, or he plays too slowly. Then on the course, the wind seems to always be in his face or gusts only when he hits. Every putt he hits was thrown offline by a bump and the greens are too slow for him to expect to make putts. When he gets a bad lie or buries one in a bunker, he never hits the shot without calling over his playing partners first. It is important that they see how bad his lie is in case he hits a poor shot. Finally, if you ask him what he shot, he will never give you a number. Instead, he has stories about his bad breaks, the course, the weather and probably his playing partners and if you are lucky, a number might be included in the narrative.
The Soldier - This golfer soldiers through any and all obstacles. He understands it doesn't matter if a bounce is fair or unfair, because he will face the next shot either way. He not only accepts things that might disrupt his game, he actually prepares for them. He always has foul weather gear. He gets mentally prepared for that slow playing partner and he spends extra time practicing on the slow greens to adjust. He is aware that he gets some good breaks and some bad. He gets it that the wind gusts are tough for everyone on the course. After the round, when asked how he played, he gives you a number. He understands that the number is all you want.
The Image - This golfer is very concerned about her image. In fact, at times it seems as though her image is more important than her score. It starts with fashion. In fact, fashion is more important than things like pockets for a tee or ball marker. Instead, she digs in her bag each time she needs one of those darned things. If T.I. hits a poor shot, drama will follow. The drama has many faces. T.I. might just stand and watch in complete disbelief. How is it possible that a player of her caliber hit such a bad shot? T.I. might talk to the heavens after and wonder how she could possibly have hit that shot; loud enough for you to hear. When T.I. is hitting shots that couldn't possibly reflect her skill as a player, she will go into the toddler tantrum reaction. This entails foot stomping, pouting, tossing clubs, or even burying her driver in the tee box. She has seen her hero Tiger do this, so she knows it is appropriate. When T.I. hits good shots, she might act like it was still flawed in some way. When asked what she hit, she will never admit to hitting a club as fully as she could. The main thing you need to understand about T.I. is, she never looks or plays as well as she could, even if she shoots 68.
Miss C - Miss C got her nickname from being calm, composed and cool as a cucumber. Miss C looks and acts like a professional. She goes about her day focused on playing well. If she hits a bad shot, she puts her club in the bag and begins the process of hitting the next shot. She doesn't change her demeanor too much throughout the round, but once in awhile she will momentarily be angry or happy, depending on the shot. If she hits a great shot, she always acknowledges anyone telling her good shot with a smile and a "thanks". Miss C doesn't really attract attention to herself, but often her shots or her scores do attract attention.
The Begrudger - The Begrudger believes that you are lucky and he is good. If you make a long putt, he will grunt a "g'putt' as he walks to the next tee. If you make two long putts, he will say nothing. The fact that he makes no putts proves you are lucky and he is unlucky. He believes his score doesn't represent his talent, while yours definitely inflates your talents. Since the long putts are already getting on his nerves, the good kicks you get from landing the ball where you planned are more proof of your luck. As the round goes on, his lip outs, bad kicks, horrible lies and bad yardages mount while you continue to get lucky by making putts, getting good kicks and play boring golf by hitting fairways and greens.
The Lucky Guy - The Lucky Guy does his homework in the practice round and studies where to land his drive, the best spot on each green to putt and how the green breaks. He practices in preparation and his warm up is focused and he spends a great deal of time on the practice green to dial in the speed. L.G. does lip out his share of putts, but he makes a lot of them, too. He expects to make long putts, so he isn't surprised when they drop. The L.G. just seems to get luckier and luckier as the round goes on.
Hopefully, if you recognized any of these actions, they were by The Soldier, Miss C, or the Lucky Guy. If you saw any of your behavior in the other three character sketches, you might need an attitude adjustment. If you make excuses, you will not learn from mistakes and it will hamper improvement. If you are worried about what others think about you on the course, you will have a hard time finding the energy to focus on yourself and your game. If you watch and judge the others in your group and find their luck to be better than yours, you are once again focused on the wrong things. Golf is a tough game even when you are completely focused and your attitude is good. It is immeasurably harder when your attitude is poor. Make the decision to play the game like The Soldier, Miss C and the Lucky Guy the next time you get on the course.