I love this quote. It is timeless and applicable on a million fronts. The game of golf is like a feeding ground for this quote. It is the quintessential place for the “whether you think you can, or you think you can’t–you’re right” mindset.
Here’s the scenario: You arrive at the par three with water in front, sand to the right and deep rough behind. The distance is something you can easily attain using a mid iron or hybrid…that is if you were on dry land from fairway to green with nothing between your ball and the landing area. You’ve hit this shot time and time again..beautifully in the air, flying high in the sky and landing on the fairway. A thing of beauty! In fact, imagine if you could just cut and paste your successful shots from other holes (like the shot I just described) to the holes that give you fits. You’d pick this one, cut and paste it on the semi-island green par three because it flew the necessary yardage needed to land on the front of the green. If you could do that, life would be good. Alas, we cannot cut and paste our shots. But it begs the question, “why are we able to do it when there is no water in our sight line, yet unable to do it when there is?”
It could simply be a matter of mind-set. You have the shot. You’ve done it over and over at other locations on the course, but when there is a blue mass in front of you rather than a green one, things change. What changes? Your skill set still exists. Your clubs don’t have pneumonia and are weakened by lack of energy. It is your belief system. If you think you can you can, if you think you can’t, well…you can’t. Your mind is telling you, “I never get over the water here, I hate this hole, I know it’s going in, I have a hundred balls in this pond, the course should be paying me to play for the number of balls that are mine down there, I was playing great until I got to THIS hole” and on and on.
So, you tee the ball up, barely do your usual routine because you already know the outcome, and you swing away. “Yup, there it is…in the water again!” “Harumph….I’m just going to the drop area…as usual.”
Your self talk did you in. What if you changed it all? What if you went entirely in the other direction of self talk.
“You know, I love this hole AND it’s the perfect distance for my 6 iron!” “In fact, I hit a fantastic 6 iron two holes ago this exact distance!” “It was one of my best swings of the day!” “I’m just going to the exact same thing on this hole…it’ll be perfect!” “I love this hole!” “I’m going make a fantastic swing and hit the ball right to the middle of the green!” “Watch this!”….then, you get up on the tee, do your pre-shot routine, your posture is great, your alignment is perfect…you look at the target…you make your swing and the ball flies in the air as though you’ve cut and pasted a shot from another hole! It lands smack in the middle of the green. “I told you I loved this hole…that was exactly what I wanted to do!”
Just reading this makes the whole thing feel better don’t you think?
As Henry Ford said, “whether you think you can or you think you can’t – you’re right!” Shift your thinking to what you WANT to have happen when you play. Change your believe system and your self talk to what you intend to do. Not only will you improve your play, you will have a more positive feeling about the whole experience.