Have you ever wondered why, after seven or eight successful tee shots, the ninth one duck hooks into the woods? It didn’t seem as though you did anything differently. Your set up was the same, your pre-shot routine was the same. So where did that shot come from? Or how about the iron shot. They’ve all been great until out of the blue, you top your 8 iron and it rolls along the fairway bouncing and skipping 50 yards short of where it should have gone. The truth of the matter is that the golf shots you hit are a collection of good shots, poor shots and average shots. You do your absolute best to make them all great shots, but statistics will show you that try as you might, they’re not all going to be great, they will be a mix of shots. It doesn’t matter if you are a golf professional or a beginner, that’s the mix. The rough breakdown of those shots are 50% average, 25% poor and yes, you guessed it, 25% of your shots will be GRRRRRRRREAT! The kicker is, you don’t know when or where the poor shot will arrive or for that matter, the great shot. You just know that it will. That’s what happened to Jim Furyk off the tee the day he snap hooked a ball into the woods. He seemed to do everything right, but then the randomness of golf happened. He had a poor shot at a very bad time in the round. Don’t you think he would have rather had the poor shot earlier in the round? Sure, but random is random and that’s what makes golf so interesting. Did he lose the event because of one shot? You might think so, but I would bet that if you went over each and every shot of his final round, you would have found putts that were very long which he made (great shot) and chips that snuggled right up to the hole for his tap in putt.. (another great shot). Had any of THOSE shots been just average, he may have missed the long putt by 2 feet or chipped to 4 feet and missed the short come back putt. Had any of those scenarios materialized, and the snap hook drive (poor shot) was just an average drive, his outcome would have been exactly the same. In the end, he did his best to play his best.
So if you are doing your best and you too have your mix of average, poor and great shots, you have to consider that there is a randomness as to when they will appear. You may make a 30 foot putt on the hardest hole on the course, and then miss a simple 2 foot putt later on during the round. It all works out in the end to whatever it will be. However, we often go over each and every hole, and focus on the single 8 footer missed for par on the last hole, or the single tee shot on the 17th hole that went way right and into the deep rough. It’s decided then that those were the shots that prevented the best score of the season or the league win. Maybe so, but I can assure you, it is simple a case of “selective memory” for certain shots and the “forgetfulness” of others. How about the 30 foot putt back on the 8th hole that fell in after spinning around the rim of the cup then sitting on the edge for a second before dropping in the hole? Or the tee shot that hit the tree and by some miracle, bounced back into the center of the fairway? Golfers don’t always consider the positive effect those shots have on the score. The most common reflection on the round is to see the shots that “should have” or “could have” gone in.
I believe that golfers need to re-frame how they think about their shots and their scores. If we all considered the fact that randomness exists while we play and that all of the shots made are a collection of average, poor and great shots, then it wouldn’t seem like utter failure when there is a triple bogie on a hole. It just means that some of the poor shots happen to group together on that particular hole. The golf swing has not disappeared, nor is the round going to be terrible. It is just going to be. After all, “random is as random does.” If you do your best to play your best, then good shots will follow, I can assure you. You just don’t know when they are going to show up!